Botanical Display Cabinet

I can’t seem to help myself from bringing home plant bits from here and there whether its on a trip, out on a walk, or from my own gardens. I am in awe of the architectural shapes and designs found in nature and I want to have their beauty around me at all times of the year. It is the same with rocks, shells, and sticks. The world is full of beautiful and incredible things and I am constantly amazed by it all.

I bought this homemade display cabinet rather impulsively for $15 at the flea market a few months back. It’s meant to sit flat on a table rather than propped up as I have it now. Davin could not see its potential and wasn’t particularly excited about carrying it all the way to the car, but I persuaded him to give it a chance. I could see his point as the plexiglass front is scratched and worn from its original use as a flea market stall display (it sat flat on a table rather than upright), and the thing is awfully large and heavy. Still, I think he was eating his words once I got it set up and filled with random seedpods, leaves, and dried flowers we have collected over the years.

I’ve always loved specimen displays. There was one in my grade school library filled with rocks and a large geode that I would visit on library days. The learning room in the lodge of the winter camp I attended had one too, although this one was filled with colourful insects stuck up with thin pins. I was happy to act as the meal gopher for my table throughout the week I was there as it allowed me the chance to slip into the room unattended between fetching cartons of milk and juice from the food service area.

This is how it sits normally, with the lid closed and a smattering of houseplants set in front. The table it sits on is located at the front entrance of our home and I think of the whole thing as a seasonal display of sorts for some of my favourite plants. This month it’s a large night blooming Cereus, mangave, several different agaves, and a species Pelargonium. The room is unheated and will be cold soon so I’ll be switching it up with tougher plants next month.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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6 thoughts on “Botanical Display Cabinet

  1. That is so beautiful. I love old display cabinets and putting collections of things in them. The Victorians were masters at this! We moderns don’t always remember how nice this kind of collection can be (rather than piles of crap from the local mall). Anyhow fantastic find!

  2. I love it too! We should never tire of the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you for sharing your finds.

  3. Great idea. I share this same trait…picking up bits and pieces of whatever has grown and lived. I just have them lining the many bookshelves that cover my walls (also hoarding books). So I just pushed all books to the back end of the shelfs (also solves some of the dust accumulation problem) and the front parts of my bookshelf’s are where i deposit the contents of my pockets.
    And also: thanks so much for great inspiration at the course you gave at Margaret´s place. I have made a lot of different herbal salts the past few weeks. Now I need more shelfs to store the salts :-) Best regards Emøke

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