New Moss Gardening
Educating horticulturists on the use of moss in gardens and landscapes.
This is a tiny vignette of my largest moss garden. These mosses and about a dozen other species are growing in this moss garden of approximately 500 square feet (46 meters square). The mosses are growing on an artificial mat system. Rhodobryum roseum, the rose moss is pictured above center and throughout. Also pictured is Climacium dendroides, the tree moss, upper right, and Atrichum undulatum, wavy or undulate Atrichum, the narrow leafed moss just below and to the right of the center rose moss.
Moss gardening is growing moss in shady areas of the garden and landscape. New Moss Gardening, www.newmossgardening.com, is a resource for those wishing to get started in moss gardening.
Mosses were the first land plants to cover the earth. All land masses were covered by mosses until the vascular plants with their roots and large vascular stems pushed the mosses aside. Mosses today generally are found in nature mostly in those areas where a vascular plant is unlikely to grow; on a rock, on the bark of a tree, on the rotted log and in the shade where vascular plants do not compete as well.
Why grow moss? Because moss as the patina of the plant world can be a lush carpet or ground cover. With cultivation and care moss will enhance and enrich your green environment and not compete or clash with your other plants.
Growing moss requires different techniques than growing flowers, bushes and trees.
Traditional moss gardening techniques have worked best in those geographical areas that receive abundant rainfall, or are more cold temperate in nature or a combination of both. Those geographical areas are the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast such as Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire upper New York and Upper Pennsylvania, The Smokies and Appalachian mountain range and northern tier states like Michigan, upper Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the West coast above the arid areas and the East coast and the South.
New moss gardening methods I developed allow geographical areas that receive less rainfall to grow moss.
These new methods can be used in any geographic area and will grow a much more lush carpet of moss than the traditional moss gardening practices. The new methods also allow the cultivation of many different species that have not been cultivated before and the new methods eliminate the tedious chore of weeding and leaf and litter removal.
I started giving workshops and seminars several years ago on moss gardening emphasizing the new methods particularly the artifical mat system. Based on the handouts from those presentations and the feedback from participants I have written a handbook on moss gardening titled New Methods in Moss Gardening which covers the six most important areas of moss gardening:
How to recognize moss, where to buy it and how to find it
What are the classic moss garden mosses as well other good garden mosses
Moss culture requirements: soil, light and water needs
Traditional moss gardening techniques
New Methods in moss gardening
The handbook is available for $17. You can read more information about the handbook on the above link.
What draws people to moss is the emerald beauty of a tiny plant that is elegant, deceptively fragile appearing yet incredibly complex and hardy. Few people have viewed moss up close and when they do they are amazed by the intricacy of the leaves, how they whorl about the stems and the tight yet loose tableaux that presents itself to the close-up casual observer.
Years ago I began using moss instead of mulch in the shady areas of my gardens. I just felt that moss brought so much more beauty to the horticultural pallette than wood or rock mulch. Besides how green are rock and wood mulch?
There is a strong consensus among horticulturists and botanists about the necessity to reemphasize the native plants. Mosses, the largest division of broyphytes (the phyllum Bryophyta), are among the hardiest of native plants with few needs.
Unfortunately little information is avaiIable in print or on the web about moss gardening even though the Japanese and Chinese have been gardening with moss for hundreds of years. This website will offer information and resources.
The handbook is essential to getting started. The basics to moss cultivation are easy to understand but in some ways much, much different than what you are used to. Read the writeup on the handbook page for a better discussion.
It is almost impossible to find good close-up pictures of mosses on the web, so to assist the interested follower you will find many pictures of mosses throughout the website. The mosses illustrated on the moss pictures page are the four classic mosses used in most moss gardens. In addition you will find on other pages many other mosses that I have had success growing. Believe me these pictures represent a tiny, tiny fraction of the mosses that need to be pictured. I have many more pictures to add to the website.
Moss gardens pictures web page has pictures of moss gardens .
Blog allows me to bring you information on challenges and new frontiers in moss gardening and track changes on the website.
FAQs summarizes the common questions and tackles the myths and misunderstandings.
To assist any public garden, botanic garden or nature center I offer free consulting. Go to the consulting page for more information.
Copyright © 2010 text and images Richard R. Smith. All rights reserved.