Making Moss Look Boss
Story by Amira Ismail | Photos by Charles Loh
You might vaguely recall terrariums from learning about them in school. Essentially, they’re sealable glass containers containing plants.
But what sets Charles’ miniature gardens apart is the striking beauty of his creations. Each jar is a work of art, with moss, pebbles, and figurines painstakingly arranged to form a scene startling in its vividness. Each composition has a magical, lifelike quality — their stillness draws the eye, as though reminding us to take a moment in our hectic lives to breathe, and to appreciate the littlest and simplest beauty around us.
Previously a graphic designer, Charles is now a full-time terrarium artisan, devoting his time and energy entirely into making customized glass gardens under the name Mossingarden.
The first thing that’s evident about Charles is his inarguable passion for nature. Influenced by his dad, he started becoming akin to nature since he was only eight years old, and grew up as a kampong boy, playing with spiders and fighting fishes for leisure.
After discovering aquatic plants by the age of 21, Charles expanded his interest to houseplants soon after. It was not until his travel abroad to Thailand in 2014 that he became engrossed with the idea of merging art and nature. Charles took up growing terrariums as play after discovering about it during his trip overseas, before it ended up being cultivated into a hobby.
“The initial name, Moss in Garden, was to keep it catchy. That’s what I do, use moss as a medium to create landscapes in a jar. But after a lot of mispronunciations, Mossing Garden came up, and it turned out that the word mossing also means chilling, so that ended up fitting me perfectly,” he said.
Nature for all
Through the natural beauty of his terrariums which he calls “living art”, Charles can engage with the part of himself that is constantly trying to appreciate life and its meaning. When asked about his ideal chill out day, Charles was persistent on the idea of taking time off to do what you love. He emphasized the importance of having a side project that one can do on your own.
“It’s important to do something that not just interests you, but also something that actually inspires you,” he said.
Indeed, the philosophy behind his nature-inspired startup, Charles explained, centres around the need to have a balanced life by slowing down our pace on occasion.
“In this fast paced city, I hope Singaporeans can take a little time to appreciate the things around them. Nature’s the cheapest form of therapy. We should be happy to have this climate to be able to enjoy the greenery,” he shared.
We may call ourselves a garden city, but not many of us actually have a garden to call our own. The gorgeous landscapes that Charles sculpts might just be the perfect way for Singaporeans to enjoy the calming effects of nature - in a bottle.