Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Peeps Picnic at The Moss Farm – Spring 2011


For 87 years, peeps have gathered at The Moss Farm for their spring revival.  The three-month event begins the day after Easter when the peep population is at it’s lowest.  Fellow peeps gather to morn the loss of their peeple, gain knowledge from their teacher, The Learned Old Frog, and to mate for purposes of rebuilding their population for next year’s sacrifices.

It took a while, but peeps have submitted to their fate of being eaten in an annual ritual during the Easter season.  In the name of goodness, each year, millions of peeps, travel bit by bit, into the bellies of children around the world.

Mostly consumed by kids, however, some adults will sneak into the closet for a taste of goodness only found in a peep.

Most children perform the sacrifice the same; starting with one ear, they gnaw it off a the base of the scalp.   Satisfied, the child goes to the other ear.  Some kids like to eat the head with the ears still attached.  If the peep had a say in how it was to be eaten, they would unanimously tell you, this is their preferred method of being consumed.

Bred to die, peeps can accept this annual sacrifice; but the sound of children groaning pleasurably at the taste of their sweet peep marshmallow life blood, is too much to bear.  At least, The Learned Old Frog will tell them, children rarely begin eating peeps from the bottom.  When kids begin with the ears, this allows for some dignity, at least.  Starting at the bottom would be too much for a peep to bare.

For a period of time, many peeps were not happy with their station in life and they raised up their little arms in the air in protest to this annual sacrifice.  Their voices largely went unheard.  In fact, many will tell you, but The Learned Old Frog denies, people punished peeps for their uprising by dressing them in human-like outfits — party dresses, bunny decoys, even as fairy princesses — a practice males found to be particularly undesirable.  Peeps prefer being nude; after all, they were born that way.

As the years passed, peeps once again began to acquiesced.  This was done, in part, due to the sage guidance from The Learned Old Frog.

The Learned Old Frog works with many of the world wonders.  Along with peeps, he also advises the gnomes.  So today, at the kick off of the three-month-long event, The Learned Old Frog was tired.  You see, Easter was late this year and the weather was warm.  Once the weather warms, gnomes like to travel.  As such, The Learned Old Frog was tired from working overtime.

All the peeps that were not chosen for this year’s sacrifice, made the long journey to The Moss Farm.  Thousands gathered and each will have an opportunity to speak with The Learned Old Frog.  This (along with the mating) is much anticipated.

Because of the current economy, the numbers of peeps returning this year are low.  A bargain compared to chocolate, more peeps were sacrificed this year than in the last two years combined.  Much work will be needed this year for peep repopulation, ensuring enough peeps for next year’s sacrifices.






Peep gestation period is a mere 3 days.  Given this, negative peep population growth is never at issue.  Even if the economy continues to lag, resulting in a peep high demand, there will always be enough peeps to satisfy the children during the Easter season.


Ada, was the first to meet with The Learned Old Frog.  She arrived early, since she didn’t have far to travel.  When she met The Learned Old Frog along the water’s edge, she was concerned.  He did not look well.  Then she remembered how tired he must be, knowing the gnomes began their travel season and they can be so inconsiderate of other world wonder’s needs.  Often, the gnomes will work and worry The Learned Old Frog beyond an acceptable amount.

Typically, each peep meets alone with The Learned Old Frog to receive guidance, including who they will mate with during the event.  Peeps are not monogynous.  Even still, they are not allow to choose their own mates.  The Learned Old Frog chooses for them.  He personally likes to introduce mating peeps, to thank them for their service, and to discuss the terms of the mating.

Non peeps are not privy to know how peeps mate.  It is believed by many, they are just born. It’s best to protect their mating rites for fear other world wonders would want to interfere.  At least, from what most people understand, they do nothing kinky as compared to those rascally gnomes.  Still, outsiders are best to believe peeps are just born.

The number of mates that are chosen depend on how much the population needs rebuilding.

During the journey, many speculated on the number pairings there will be.  Most consider it a good year, if they are able to mate 6 times or more.  Of course there are always peeps wishing for at least 12 pairings.  There are also a few who wish to mate with a peep they met along the journey’s path.  This is where hard feelings come to play. Inevitably, someone’s feelings will be hurt.  The same ole love story, you met a peep, life is short, let’s live for today.  But, this is considered bad form in peep morals.


After each peep meets with The Learned Old Frog, they head to the watering hole for a cleansing.  As they gather there, they realize those dang ducks crashed their revival — again.  At first there are a couple of pink ducks, then more begin to arrive.

They did this last year too.  Those ducks have issues.  Always trying to gain the respect of The Learned Old Frog as world wonders.  They tend to copy peeps in hopes of being noticed.  They even offer themselves as a sacrifice to kids during the Easter season.  Hump, they aren’t even original.  Even the kids aren’t interested.  Seriously, what’s up with the umbrella in a shade garden?  There they go acting all uppity.  Just look at them, they act as if they own the watering hole.

That lone purple one is trouble.  Last year, when the peeps were entering the water to get their cleansing, he heckled Eli about his little ears.  Thankfully, Eli was sacrificed so as not to endure this kind of behavior again.

Ducks are interesting.  They all start out pink and turn purple then blue when they’ve gone completely bad.  While they are in the purple stage, they are annoying, but not dangerous, like they are when they are blue.

In the meantime, Luther is the first to jump in the cooling, cleansing water at The Moss Farm, followed by Nettie.  Even though each pairing was announced by The Learned Old Frog, and Luther and Nettie were not paired together, it was obvious to everyone, they had an eye for each other.  They were starting to cause some concern from the elder peeps with their behaviors toward each other.

Every year, there are a few renegade peeps wanting to do their own thing.

Noticing their coziness as Luther cajoles Nettie into the water with his playful way, Gladys goes to the water’s edge to make sure there are no casualties down the waterfall.

It is well known, peeps that take matters into their own hands will escape down the falls and couple in Mellow Yellow.  Sadly, many a peep was conceived that way.

Gladys has held this role for years, as did her mother before her.  Situating herself in a decent spotting perch, she hopes nothing bad happens on her watch.  She is lightly humming a tune thinking about her 9 pairings — yes 9!  She can hardly contain her excitement when Luther takes the plunge.  Drats!  “Why does this have to happen to me,” Gladys shouts.   Nettie begins to swim towards the waterfall so she can be with Luther.  No doubt, they are on their way to Mellow Yellow for a tryst.

Gladys cannot believe her eyes.  This is not a good sign.  The very first to cleanse themselves, escape.  How many more will follow?

When this happened lasted year, three others followed suit.

Now she’s in trouble, The Learned Old Frog perks up from the commotion.  He knows full well what happened.  Those peeps!  Every year’s the same.

As The Learned Old Frog reflects on what just happen, he decides to do nothing.  After all, peeps will be peeps.

Landscape design by David Spain.  Photos by Ken Gergle.

By: Helen  Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are credited to Ken Gergle.

The Moss Farm at Moss and Stone Gardens, Raleigh, NC

At noon, when I pulled into the driveway of The Moss Farm, in Raleigh, NC, the newspaper still sat by the curb.  Moss does that to you; the news of the day can wait until solitude and serenity from the moss garden recharges your soul.  It’s best to begin the day with moss mellowing one’s mood, making it more tolerable to read what’s above the fold.

The air is warm as I enter the sun drenched front garden of The Moss Farm.  Immediately, I’m drawn to the moss garden on the side of the property.  Rushed, yet focused on tasks at hand, I take a step into the moss garden and most of must-dos for my busy day, melts away.  A mere step into the dappled shade from newly leafed trees, protecting the moss floor, and I am transformed.  Moss is the only thing now on my mind.

I pause at this first step to take in the view.  The design is such so the view is not taken in all at once.  As I surveyed the scene, I heard the sound of music — tranquil music.  I wondered if was playing as I walked up or did I somehow trigger a switch with my first step.  From this gardener’s perspective, the music was the perfect match to moss.  If I was a musician, no doubt, I would find the moss a perfect match to the music.

Further steps revealed the garden slowly.  I’m lost in the seductive scenes.  Just as I’m about to take my next step, David Spain and Ken Gergle, co-owners of Moss and Stone Gardens greet me with smiles.  As if they could read my mind, they let the moment linger.  They know I’m lost in my thoughts.  After a moment, we hug our hellos and they prepare me for a tour of The Moss Farm; first of the demonstration gardens, then the farm itself.

It wasn’t long before David suggested I take off my sandals and walk barefoot in the

Patricia Spain allows the moss to touch her toes. With a lifetime of experience with moss, she is able to somehow control the moss's magical hold

moss.  I declined with no explanation.  I wasn’t ready for that.  I was already too vulnerable.  I wanted to be able to keep my wits about me.  I knew if my toes touched the moss, I would loose my focus even more than I already had and would delve into fantasies of ancient lore.  I couldn’t be tempted; after all, I was there on business.  Perhaps another time when I’m there on a social call.


David explained the work planned for the gardens before he will allow them presented for magazine publication.  I understood.  David is building a garden that will last a lifetime; there was no need to rush the exposure.  Still, the gardens certainly could be photographed today for any of the finest publications.  David, however, is a perfectionist. He will let me know when it’s time.

From the demonstration garden, we walked down to the fields of moss.  Fascinated by how the mosses were sequestered and grown on landscape cloth, I found each area with a separate, sustainable crop.

The mosses grown in The Moss Farm are for purchase by individuals, used in The Moss and Stone Gardens dish designs, as well as, used in the landscape designs David and Ken are so highly respected and known for.  The tour left me even more committed to learning about mosses.

Hours later, I had to regain my composure to re-enter the world of appointments and commitments.  I was afraid it would be difficult to do, but I stepped back into the sun drenched front garden and my normal hectic pace returned.  It’s as if the spell of the moss’s magic released her hold.  Indeed, even the sound of the music was gone.  But then driving to my next appointment, as I entered into the busy traffic, my mood was mellow; a mood entirely different then on my drive to The Moss Farm.  Moss mellowed me.  I left the Moss Farm a little less stressed about my everyday worries.


Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

Mellow Yellow moss dish


As if butter and nutmeg were blended on stone, molded, then spread with lush, emerald green moss, this dish is worthy of a nosh.

David Spain’s Mellow Yellow dish came about by the proverbial, cart before the horse, philosophy.

Typically, David will let a piece of pottery move him to create moss landscapes as art in the shallow well of pottery or crevices of stone.

In creating of this piece, David was moved first by the moss. “I had a particularly beautiful colony of Polytrichum commune and Dicranum scoparium that were evenly mixed together,” says David.

Recognizing the rarity of these two mosses in such a large colony combined as one, David commissioned Marsha Owen Pottery to make this mellow, yellow pottery dish.

“As a moss cultivator, I am always looking for exceptional specimens and as this mixed colony developed, I knew I wanted to showcase the fusion of species and their exceptional size,” says David.

David carried the colony to Marsha’s studio where they made a cardboard template of the colony’s footprint. David says, “I asked Marsha to come up with a simple, elegant container to house this voluptuous mixture and I was not disappointed.”

Careful consideration was needed in making this pottery fit the moss colony. As pottery is fired, there is shrinkage. Allowing for this, Marsha and her husband Rick, carefully constructed the container, so once fired, the moss colony would fit exactly.

At first glance, this moss dish may seem to be lacking the detail of a micro-landscape David is so well known for; however, to David, “This dish epitomized the simple beauty of a moss dish garden.”

As ever, photographer, Ken Gergle, masterfully photographed this dish garden, Mellow Yellow. Often, Ken leaves the scale of the art a mystery. When I learn of the scale of some of David’s pieces, I often equate it to adding the last wiggly-shaped piece to a 500 piece puzzle, as Country Dish revealed.

So while Mellow Yellow, may only be made of two mosses, Polytrichum commune and Dicranum scoparium, it measures 22 inches across or about the size of my mondo computer screen or that of my first born at birth. Indeed, this is impressive.

In the wild, a colony of this breadth takes about 20 plus years to develop. David was able to grow this colony in just four years using the optimal conditions at Moss and Stone Garden’s moss nursery.

Mellow Yellow is a permanent part of David Spain’s personal collection; “I am happy to report, for five months, the colony housed in Mellow Yellow, has a healthy formation of sporophytes, signifying it’s content in it’s uniquely crafted sanctuary.”

For many more months, and perhaps years to come, I hope to learn of Mellow Yellow’s continued contentment.



Order your Moss Rocks!  online today.  Moss is grand.  Moss is green.  Moss is good. Make the most of it; order Moss Rocks! today.

By: Helen Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at

Unless otherwise noted, all photo are credited to Ken Gergle.

David Spain moss workshop at Statewide Master Gardener Conference – Raleigh

David Spain will be leading a Moss Madness workshop at the NC Master Gardener Conference in Raleigh on May 9, 2011, from 2 – 5.  A few seats remain.  If you are interested in attending, click here.

Moss Madness

Explore the exciting varieties and nuanced beauty of NC’s naive mosses.  An overview of growing techniques will be followed by an opportunity to create a mini-garden using mosses, lichens, and other bites of woodland bounty.

The annual educational conference for North Carolina’s Extension Master Gardeners will be held in Raleigh, May 8-11. Hosted by the Master Gardener Association and Cooperative Extension, the conference offers public and private garden tours, hands-on workshops, and educational sessions ranging from community and children’s gardens to sustainable strategies, and wildlife in the garden.

The conference is open to all Master Gardeners as well as anyone who may be interested in applying to the program. For more information on the conference and to register online, go to:  NC Master Gardeners.

By: Helen  Yoest


Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at

Knowing your Acrocarp from your Pleurocarp


Our main mission at Moss and Stone Gardens‘ blog, is to educate those desiring to learn more about mosses.  Our goal is to make it easy for you to understand mosses; to take the mystery out of moss – not the mystic.

As a landscape design group specializing in moss and stone gardens, we work with homeowners and design professionals designing with moss.

Particularly today, in what appears to be a movement towards moss, as designers and gardeners are looking for sustainable, shade loving options, either as a lawn replacement or as a sculptural backdrop to accent the grounds of commercial or residential properties, we feel it is even more important to help with this education.  As such, this is the first in a series to educate the reader about mosses on the most basic level — an introduction — to begin to guide you through the movement towards moss.

All mosses can be classified as 2 types:  Acrocarpous and Pleurocarpous

Recently, I asked David Spain, our moss expert, to describe the two types of mosses we are so often writing about.  I hope you learn as much about Acrocarps and Pleurocarps as I did.  If you have further questions, please leave a comment and David will get back with you.

Acrocarpous – Dicranum scoparium

Acrocarpous mosses have an upright growth habit.

As defined by,  Acrocarpous MossA type of moss in which the archegonia (i.e. female sex organs), and hence the capsules are borne at the tips of stems or branches.  Acrocarpous mosses may branch extensively; once they have fruited, branches take over the erect growth.

Acrocarps are usually unbranched and erect, forming a mounded colony.

Acrocarps are slower growing than Pleurocarps.

The sporophytes of the Acrocarps emerge from the tips of the plant.

Acrocarps do not regenerate from fragments as quickly as Pleurocarps.

Weeds are less likely to invade Acrocarps due to the thickness and tight packed stems.

Common Acrocarps for moss gardens are: Polytrichum commune, Dicranum scoparium, Campylopus introflexus, and Luecobryum glaucum.


Pleurocarpous – Bryoandersonia illecebra

Pleurocapous mosses have a prostrate growth habit.

As defined by, Pleurocarpous – A type of moss in which the female sex organs (archegonia) and capsules are borne on short, lateral branches, and not at the tips of branches. Pleurocarpous mosses tend to form spreading carpets rather than erect tufts.

Pleurocarps are freely branching in a chaotic fashion.

Pleurocarps spread out branches from the colony in a creeping fashion.

The sporophytes of the Pleurocarps emerge mid stem.

Most Pleurocarps grow faster than Acrocarps.

Pleurocarps quickly regenerate from broken fragments.

Pleurocarps quick attachment to stone and growth rate makes them better for colonizing hard substrates.

Maintenance of Pleurocarps is easier due to their matting tendencies and low even profile, blowing debris off of them is easier.

Pleurocarps can be used as a nursery for Acrocarps, once an area is colonized by these pioneer mosses, the slower growing Acrocarps can more easily colonize.

Common Pleurocarps for moss garden are: Thuidium delecatulum, Plagiomnium cuspidatum, Climacium americanum, Bryandersonia illecebra, Entodon seductrix, Hypnum cupressiforme, and Hypnum imponens.

As we move you toward mosses, we hope you visit with us again and feel free to visit our website at Moss and Stone Gardens to send us an email.

By: Helen  Yoest

Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook Like page Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!

To learn more about Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks!, please visit our website.  Or email David Spain at