Monthly Archives: April 2014

Moss Trending: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All ThingsFinally, moss takes center stage in the theatre of Earth–again. What’s old is new again, and it’s trending like a Broadway hit!

Martha, of course, has done a lot to enlighten gardeners to the allure of mosses, and we take our part very seriously (and respectfully) to educate people on the cultivation of a moss garden wherever they may live.  Now Elizabeth Gilbert is reaching the masses beyond gardeners.

Through Alma Whittaker, the protagonist in Ms. Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things, we are made privy to the nineteenth century world of botany and specifically to the science of mosses. (Of course, we here at Moss and Stone Gardens thought Eat Pray Love should have been about moss, too. After all, moss is worthy, but we digress.)Moss and Stone Garden

Moss LikeHaven’t gotten your copy yet? Or, want to give one as a gift or a loan but cannot bear to part with your own copy? Now’s your chance to win one! Moss and Stone Gardens has teamed with Ms. Gilbert’s publisher, Penguin Group (USA), and together we are hosting a giveaway. To enter to win, all you have to do is LIKE our Facebook page and leave us a comment.   Three copies, one autographed, will be given away. We  love hearing from you. Perhaps you have a photo of your own moss garden or an inspirational one that you have discovered and would like to share too. Please do!

The Signature of All Things follows the story of Alma, a brilliant woman, born in 1800. Admittedly, we may be ever so slightly biased as to our estimation of her brilliance as we are in complete accord with her decision to make moss her life passion.gilbert

Alma spent 25 years studying moss. Of course, this would be easy to do. Once you open the curtain to the mossy adventure, time flies. David Spain, Moss and Stone Garden’s moss expert, plans to reach 25 years learning about moss, and go for another 25 years and more after that, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

primitavemossAlma Whittaker was clearly ahead of her time. Today, moss is trending, but did you know that moss was Earth’s opening act? Alma, our fictional advocate, learned the role that mosses play on Earth and we at Moss and Stone Gardens are doing our part to keep them in the spotlight and hoping (and clapping) for repeated encores in gardens around the world.

Don’t forget to LIKE our Facebook page to enter a chance to win. Please share with your friends.

By: Moss and Stone Gardens

Post Script: For those curious to know, we asked Ms. Gilbert if she grows moss in her garden at home. Her answer? A resounding YES!

 

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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.

Mooning over Mosses

Moss step stones

“We gave David only a general idea of what we wanted. His imagination, sense of design, and talent for execution took it way beyond anything we could have dreamed of. It has an originality and sense of whimsy that make the garden always a pleasure to gaze upon. The curves of the stone wall and the fern beds, the placement of the Japanese maple trees and the crepe myrtle, and the mystical green surface of the moss give us an endlessly varying scene to enjoy. And David’s obvious love of moss and his willingness to share his vast knowledge of this ancient vegetation makes us feel as if we’re in touch with something timeless.”          ~ Barbara & David

Sometimes the stars align just right and a client’s existing property features, our collective visions for improvement and a sky’s-the-limit budget all fall into a state of moss-induced bliss. Sometimes, but not always. That’s where a new kind of alignment and yes, the fun, begins.

Often we’re called in because, in fact, the client’s existing property features are a major challenge and a testament to failed endeavors (they’ve spent a whole lot of money on planting, fertilizing, weeding and fretting over failed grass areas etc.) or, they really don’t have any idea of what to do with that barren shady section of their yard. Sometimes we’re met with someone brimming with a whole lot of ideas but not much budget. Did I say this is where the fun begins? Yes and it really is as we collaborate together to find that perfect balance of terrain, resources and dreams. The results? As it turns out we can whip some of those wayward stars right back into alignment, thank you very much. Hello segue!

We have lots of “star stories” borne of one or more of these challenges. Here’s a short one for you…

Recently, a client gave us open season on the creative vision and a generous budget so wow what could go wrong? Oops, the tree guys, that’s what. Between our first and second site visits the tree team showed up and the nice shady glade I first saw was now not so very shady.  (Oh, that lovely cherry tree. I still mourn your loss.)  Solution? A one hundred gallon (and spectacular) crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘Nachez’) supplied instant shade. Project back on course but at an unexpected adjustment to the budget.

Fortunately our client was committed to the original mosssome vision and agreed to the additional cost necessitated by the oops factor!

Moss Timbers

While we had lots of creative license, it turned out Barbara, the home owner, deeply loved some beautiful but not so stable timbers retaining soil on both sides of the driveway.  In fact those rotting, yet visually pleasing, timbers were the basis of her whole inspiration for calling us. Why did she love them so? Take a look and it will be obvious to you. They were covered in velvety layers of Dicranum mosses. What’s not to love?

Barbara is a renowned photographer and artist with a particular passion for color. As it turns out, green is her favorite. The mosses that populated her rotting timbers inspired her but hey, the timbers were no longer doing their job which was to act as a retaining wall. They had beauty but, sorry Barbara, they simply had to go. Could they go and the mosses stay, she asked?

Before tyrolerOur vision evolved from there to incorporate the beauty of the mosses with a more stable solution for the retaining wall. Yes, she could have both! We started with the possibilities of rebuilding the timber retaining walls, setting them further back to allow for a wider driveway and preserving any of the existing moss growth into the new landscape. It soon became apparent that Barbara was interested in a panoramic surround of verdant green hues to inspire her creativity as she worked from inside her large-windowed home. Our kind of office! She also was interested in low maintenance. The stars are in their heavens and all is right with the world.

After we discovered that Barbara and her husband David were not gardeners, and challenged by the care of their four houseplants, we knew that moss and stone would be the ideal landscape components for them. We used large boulders around the property to diversify and  bring strong visual impact to the woodland lot. Boulder moss pathMoss, maples and stone would make this landscape shine bright.

Boulders were placed either side of the driveway entry, incorporated into the retaining wall and one very large boulder placed in the middle of the front yard which had been left natural. Lichen BoulderThe massive stones weighed a total of eight tons which brought the installation into scale with the rest of the yard. We transitioned one of the timber retaining walls into a stone wall as it rounded toward the house. Next, planting beds were created at the base of the stone wall and  the sloping ground was leveled for the stepping stone pathway. We transplanted Thuidium delecatulum moss as the ground cover and reused Barbara’s existing mosses into a little pocket garden on the opposite side of the driveway. Three specimen Japanese maples (Acer Palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, Acer Palmatum ‘Viride’ and an upright Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’) were incorporated as well as some simple under plantings, lighting and irrigation.

Today, Barbara and David’s garden is a welcoming oasis of calm with its luxurious carpet of moss and eye-catching stone additions. Ahh, heaven on earth.

David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

Before moss

After moss

Stone path entry

 

 

 

Moss entry

moss timber gravel

Moss concept

 

 

 

*remember to click on the images to enlarge and enjoy them at higher resolution 

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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.