Words and photo by Tristan Ovington.
Anyone who passes Captive Worlds on Crane Street, Salisbury, would need to pause to marvel at the gallery-like window display.
Various beautiful and exotic plants are arranged in their slick glass terrariums. All plants are displayed in an aesthetically pleasing, minimalistic style, placed on a simple teak table in the front window. It is easy to see that this is shop owner John Arnold’s passion.
Remembering how it all started, John says: “To be honest, my house was getting too full up with fish tanks,” he admits with a laugh. “Then, when the pandemic hit, my contract work as an IT engineer stopped.
“Like many people, this was a chance to sit back and think about things. So I thought I’d open a shop instead of doing a boring job I didn’t enjoy.”
But why terrariums and aquariums?
“I started with a basic aquarium and then got into aqua-scaping, which was developed by Takashi Amano
in Japan, revolutionising how we put together the contents
“It’s all about the aesthetics of how you place wood, rocks and plants, aquatic soil, and fertilizer into the tank. Even, sometimes, CO2, depending
on the plants. Once I got into this aesthetic, it all just sort
John offers many different accessories, such as crystals. “I have a friend with a shop in Glastonbury who specialises in crystals and jewellery.
“At Captive Worlds, we have pink quartz, fools gold, and many other crystals. Most of them look great as part of a landscape in a terrarium or as stand-alone ornaments.”
The customer base of Captive Worlds is always expanding. “People come from far and wide to visit us. We have had customers from all across the UK and Denmark, Germany, and America. The American gentleman said he would send me some beautiful driftwood to use in my tanks. When I asked how much money he wanted, he said I could have them for free.
“I now do two Sunday morning workshops every month for groups of five which always get fully booked up. They are very popular, and everyone has a great time.
“I had a home education group of kids with parents who learnt a lot and enjoyed it. I show people how to create the landscape in the glass tank, and I make sure they create something beautiful to leave with.
“Creating a terrarium is a therapeutic and relaxing experience and the workshops are usually an hour and a half, though some finish more quickly than others. We are always running new workshops, and info can be found on our website.”