Monthly Archives: July 2012

Harvesting Moss from Stone

Dear David, can moss be taken from rocks, even if frozen during the winter?

Thanks for your help, Tom.

 

Dear Tom, your question is not so simple to answer. Mosses have a natural anti-freeze that allows them to survive extreme cold, they can however become encrusted in snow and ice, which would impede collection. In general, mosses can be collected year round, it is only the conditions and presence of ice that will complicate things. There are many species that can grow on stone, some of them may be easy to remove even when temperatures are below freezing.

If the moss growth on a stone is thick and you are able to peel it away from the stone without tearing, it is likely you will meet with success. Some species are specialized and grow only on stone, these species attach themselves firmly to the surface and are difficult at best to collect without shredding. The stone specific species like Grimmia’s are very slow growing and sensitive to changes in their environment. My advice is to collect a small amount and test to see the success of your technique and intended use. Remember to collect responsibly, leaving more behind than you remove. Be sure to have permission from the land owner before collecting and never collect from public property or protected areas.

Best wishes, David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

There are many species that will colonize a stone surface, if the environment is moist, your chances of successful collection and transplanting are high. If the climate is more arid, then tread carefully, mosses adapted to dry conditions can be very specialized and almost impossible to relocate. If the moss is rather easily removed from the stone surface intact, it is a good bet on a successful transplant. If the moss is strongly attached and comes apart when removed it is best to leave it be.

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

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

Help my moss is turning black!

Dear David,

I have had an outdoor waterfall and pond for about 10 years.  The moss is beautiful, growing on the majority of rocks closest to the waterfall.  Each year it seems to increase, with no special care from me, except for pulling any stray water plant growth.   This year it has slowly been turning black, from the bottom up, and some has died altogether.  I haven’t done anything different from the previous years.  No chemicals have been applied, etc.

Do you have any idea what could be causing it to die, and what if anything I can do.  I did remove a lot of it today.  Thanks so much.  Mary

Hello Mary,  It’s difficult to diagnose with so little information and so many parameters. It’s possible that black slime mold is affecting the area if it is wet all the time and if water plants are creeping up the moss they could easily help to spread this type of problem.  Removing the affected moss is a good precaution, monitor it carefully and ensure the water quality isn’t the problem.
If you need further assistance, really good close up photos of the problem will be needed for further diagnosis.

Best regards,

David Spain
Moss and Stone Gardens

Dear David, Thanks so much for your reply. I have looked at it and taken some pictures. It looks like whatever it is, it is totally “consuming” it. First it turns black and then it just disappears, with a black thin layer of slimey stuff. Is that what black slime mold looks like? And, is there anything I can do. I read about that problem in aquariums, but not in outdoor ponds. Thanks. mary

Hey Mary, the photos certainly do help with the diagnosis. It appears as though you have not only black slime mold affecting your moss but judging from the photos, grey mold as well. Molds are one of the few enemies of mosses and often occur in closed terrariums. Molds are partial to the same conditions that many mosses are. Constant moisture and shade can be a recipe for the slimy and fuzzy stuff to invade. The molds are however temperature dependent and you will likely not find them growing in cooler seasons. I have found that once the thermometer reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and the moisture is constant, you should keep an eye out for the attack of the molds. Most of these attacks are easily remedied by removing the moisture, but if the problem is at the edge of your artificial water system, then removing moisture is tricky. You have already taken a good step by removing the moss that is affected. Trimming or thinning mosses that are growing into the water can also be a preventative. Mosses may reach for and grow into the water but that doesn’t mean that it’s good for them. Our artificial water gardens have a constant water level that natural streams or ponds do not, this consistent water line is not as forgiving as the rising and falling water lines of a natural body of water. When mosses have direct contact with a body of water, they wick the water into the moss mat. This can help feed the mosses growth but in certain situations can also lead to problems. One of these problems can actually be to drain the water system quicker than evaporation does alone, another is soggy soils and slime molds. Eventually these problems will find an equilibrium and take care of themselves, but the results may not be the desired lush moss growth right to the waters edge you envisioned. A little moss maintenance and trimming will help in this case to stop the wicking and soothe the soul.

Best of luck,

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 

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

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Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook 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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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

 

 

Moss People

         I was very blessed to have made fast friends with the fiery, flirty and fashionably adorable Faeries a few weeks ago.  The insights that were shared about faerie culture was eye opening to say the least.  I will pass on to you now these other compelling bits of lore.

Under the spell o’ faerie dust and drams they shared secret knowledge of other wee inhabitants of the woods.  Were they telling tales and just bewitching me? The existence of Moss People was exciting indeed.  Could we cast a spell and bring them into our midst?  What would it take to entice the magical beings to visit?

They have been the subject of folklore for century’s, from Scandinavia to South America and even in common tales told in modern culture, but when the faeries told me the secrets to attracting the mischevious Moss People, (a comprehensive reference to Hobbits, Elves, Trolls and Wood Sprites) I was giddy with anticipation that these garden inhabitants were within reach. The faeries explained that over the centuries the Moss Folk had become more reclusive and less attainable in our modern culture, due to the homogeneity of our gardens.

You see, Moss People live by the rule that the gardens they inhabit must first embrace Mother Nature’s diversity and balance.  The variety of plants in a garden must be in harmony with the available resources and most of all the ratio of native plants to cultivated plants are equal or more. Hobbit harmony thrives where trees are cherished, not culled and dashing chipmunks are admired, un-scolded.  Where the water runs freely and the beehives thrive, that’s where you’ll find them leading magical lives.

I had to ask, now that the faeries were speaking, who are Moss People really? Their answer surprised.  Moss People are of an ancient civilization that long ago realized the benefit of preserving the antediluvian plant species as  humans were becoming agrarians. Their solution was simple, the answer easy, moss. The Moss People have insured the proliferation of mosses by planting colonies and reintroducing them again and again as man has raised and built, cut and cleared.

Moss harkens back 450 million years holding reign over the earliest of plants. As mosses covered the globe, their solitary eden for 70 million years, they created the first organic soils. Moss was the cradle of plant evolution and diversity. So you see, if you plant a little patch of moss, you will have a colony of hundreds or even thousands of individual moss plants and the balance of natives and cultivars will be quickly achieved. Do so and your garden will be happier and a haven for Moss People.

The iridescent faeries are always the first to occupy a garden. A tiny offering of moss is enough to attract them. But as the moss grows and begins to restore the equilibrium between native and cultivated, Hobbit houses will soon be spied! While Moss People aren’t shy, alas you will never see one. Like the hummingbird, their size is so small that their relative speed at which they move is undetectable by the human eye. Even if they were to stand still for an Hobbit hour, it would only equal a fraction of a human second. This would be impossible anyways as Moss People are very industrious, always working, playing pranks and famously hiding garden tools. They proudly announce their presence with enchanting Hobbit homes which seem to magically appear overnight, when in fact, for them, it takes many weeks to construct.

The welcome mat of moss has been proffered, Hobbit houses constructed and the rewards of balance bestowed. Ah, but a wee word of caution – as of this morning I am missing a hoe, my favorite by-pass pruners and a trowel.

David Spain, a.k.a Moss Rock

 p.s. you may click on the images in this post for a larger view!

 

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

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Follow Moss and Stone Gardens – Where Moss Rocks! on Twitter @Moss_Rocks and our Facebook 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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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

Transplanting Polytrichum and Atrichum mosses

Hi David,

I recently discovered your site and have been grateful for all the information. I’ve been having some trouble growing moss in my garden and was hoping you might have some advice.

A month ago I discovered a large patch of an upright-growing moss (fairly sure it’s haircap moss) in a neglected corner of my garden. I cut it into several largish sections and transplanted beneath the umbrella of a weeping cherry tree, where I’ve had trouble growing much of anything except for hosta. I raked the bed, leveled the surface and have been watering fairly regularly, however the moss doesn’t appear to be thriving; it’s wilting around the edges and appears, not brown, but just generally unhealthy.

Although I trim the weeping cherry branches several feet above the ground, the area is in heavy shade and gets virtually no direct sunlight. Can haircap moss grow in such extreme shade or should I transplant (again) to a more lightly shaded area? Any other suggestions?

Thanks so much in advance for any tips and for providing such a clearinghouse of moss-related information.

All best,
Bennett

Hello Bennett, I am glad you have found our posts helpful. It isn’t unusual for acrocarps to suffer at the edges of a harvested colony. The colony itself provides protection from drying by being tightly packed together, when you cut the patch and transplant it, the edges are more expose than before and will dry out faster causing the leaves around the edges to close (appress). Making sure the edges of the colony are tucked into the soil and level with the soil around it will help, some edge damage may occur but eventually will heal.

When collecting acrocarps like Polytrichum or Atrichum, often called hair-cap or star-cap moss, it is necessary to scoop soil along with the moss colony, to prevent damage and to prevent them from falling apart. The soil ball should be accommodated with an equal depression when placed into it’s new location. Acrocarps are slow to grow, so be patient and don’t compensate by trying to add more water and perk up the edges, just follow an appropriate acrocarp watering schedule and let happen what will happen. The conditions under the weeping cherry should be just fine for the haircap moss.

Best wishes,

David Spain aka Moss Rock

 

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

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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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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