The Questions - Ben Newell: author Hello Tiny World

I was recently asked if I wanted to review this new book by Ben Newell:  'Hello Tiny World' so I took the opportunity to ask whether Ben would like to take part in my The Questions interview series.  Ben very kindly agreed.

photo credit: George Devereux

I have not paid for this book and I have not been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are entirely my own.

Hello Tiny World is Ben Newell's first book, I think it fair to call it his first book as I image there will indeed be more.  Ben has an audience of over 3.4 million on social media (look for worcester terrariums) where he demonstrates his passion and knowledge for terrariums.  Ben was awarded a RHS Chelsea Gold Medal in 2022, he knows his stuff.
There is so much that is of high quality about this book.  The photographs by Jason Ingram are phenomenal and support and complement the magnificent amount of knowledge and inspiration that Ben imparts.  

Ben talks us through the principles of terrariums: telling us that they can be open or fully sealed and options in between.  Interestingly Ben also tells us about David Latimer's terrarium which is in a sealed wine demijohn, which was first and last opened in 1972 and it has been self-sustaining since then.  I was particularly interested in this as this probably explains why there was a fashion for terrariums in the 1970s that I remember and why I had in my head that terrariums should be in demijohns. 

Then we are talked through substrates and light and of course plants with demonstrable expertise.  What makes this book stand out against the others is when Ben shares his inspiriational ideas about the landscaping and this is where the creation of tiny worlds really takes shape.  The notion of putting little figures in a tearrarium I thought was brilliant and not something I would have thought about for myself.  The idea of making tiny worlds, using interesting containers and making hardscapes makes terrariums far more interesting.  But then, then I reached a chapter I did not expect at all............ creatures!  or custodians as Ben calls then.  Now I admit there is no so scenario on earth where I would keep a jumping spider terrarium; but a Cubaris sp, 'Rubber Ducky', now that is a creature I could consider.  

This is a brilliant book: Ben is very knowledgeable and generous with his knowledge in an accessible way.  I very happily recommend this book.

Hello Tiny World by Ben Newell is published by DK Books

The Questions


In which garden do you feel happiest?

My childhood friend Joe’s old garden. We spent a lot of time there as kids and I have fond memories playing football there.



If you could only have five garden-related tools, which would they be?

I’m coming at this from a terrarium building standpoint so:

Long handled tweezers

Long handled scissors 

A chopstick

Niwaki secateurs 

A sharp knife



If you could only have five garden-related books, which would they be?



Bonsai Techniques 1 and 2 by John Naka

Niwaki by Jake Hobson

The Plant Rescuer by Sarah Gerard Jones

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Applehof

Literati Style Penjing by Zhao Qingquan



What was the most defining moment in your life so far?


The death of my father


What are you most proud of?



It’s hard to pinpoint one exact thing but this whole journey with my terrariums has been my proudest achievement.


If you won the lottery, what would you do?


I’d buy my mother a house.


Who are your garden heroes (no more than three)?


Jaron from Dr Plants

Alex from Leafy Street

Peter Chan



What skill would you like to learn and why? (does not have to be garden related).

I’d like to learn how to play the trumpet.


If you could visit any garden right this minute, which one would it be?

The Singapore Botanic Gardens



What is your current plant obsession?


I’m obsessed with Saxifrage stolonoifera ‘yaukushima’


Which garden tool is never far from your hand?

My Okatsune secateurs


What is your favourite gardening/plant related word?




What do you wish you could do better?


I wish I could edit videos to a higher standard (I will get there)


What is the most important lesson you have learned so far?


Listen to people who are where you want to be


What makes a perfect day for you?



Spending the day with my girlfriend with no plans at all. 


If you had one piece of advice to offer to someone what would it be?

Two things:

Work as hard as you can on your goals

Be careful who you spend your time with


Gnome or no gnome?



 A huge thank you to Ben for taking part in The Questions and to Jane Southcott for enabling this to happen.

Take care and be kind.

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