Category Archives: Moss Landscape Designs

Moss Soothes the Savage Beast in Us All

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Faithful readers of Moss and Stone Gardens know that moss can be both settling and exciting. In a sense, moss can be both yin and yang. In either case, the energy is soothing.

We find ourselves to be evangelical about moss, and when we were asked back to create a display garden at the North Carolina State Fair, we felt it was our privilege and duty. Teaching people about moss, in the Carolinas in particular, is important to us.

This year we decided to “Go Wild!” with our North Carolina State Fair demonstration exhibition. We wanted something to thrill the young-uns’ and to also connect with the inner-child in us all.  Our goal was to educate about moss and how it can soothe the savage beast in us all.

Our “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” themed garden is doing just that, and we hope you can make it out to the NC State Fairgrounds this week to see this moss beast in person! The fair continues through Sunday, October 26, 2014.

Moss waterWhen we first were asked to participate at the star fair in 2009, there was nary a sign of living moss at the flower show and gardens. Each year, as we returned, there was less head scratchin’ and more mmm-hmmm’s! Moss it seems takes patience, not only to grow in our gardens but to spread throughout the gardening community’s consciousness. There are no less than 7 different gardens and competitions this year featuring mosses as a prominent and living plant in their design. Not to mention the fairy gardens and terrariums that were also using live moss. This is the best news of all for us, seeing the acceptance and use of moss as a living part of our landscapes and not just a soil ammendment!

TarHeelOuch

There can potentially be some bad that comes with all this good, so before you give us a call to have your own circus animal or college mascot created in your garden, be aware that Lions versus Bears can take on a polarizing effect with your neighbors! We try to stay neutral (go Wolfpack!) and don’t want to create a stir, so give it some thought then give us a call.

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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.

Love A Fair

One of my favorite movies is Love Affair from 1939 starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It was remade as An Affair To Remember in 1957 with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant and again as Love Affair in 1994 with Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. There is also the well known movie Sleepless In Seattle which borrowed heavily from this story’s plot line. Just like a really good story, some things can be revisited over and over again even though the similarities are obvious the freshness comes from the changing characters and contemporary elements.

This year Moss and Stone Gardens was invited to create an exhibition at the NC State Fair. Erv Evans, affectionately known as The Plant Guy for his encyclopedic knowledge of plants and their botanical names, is in charge of the Flower and Garden Show at the fair and when he made his enthusiasm known for our unique gardening style we could not resist.

The affair began with a visit to the garden grounds and a tour with Erv to see what locations were available. After consideration, Ken and I chose a corner booth anchored by a large White Oak. Little did we realize that this year was one of those off-the-chart acorn events that you seem to forget about until they occur again. By the time we broke ground 2 weeks before the Fair began, acorns were falling from the great oak at an astonishing rate and speed. Thousands fell into our booth and gave little if any warning before striking, if unlucky you became the stricken, if lucky you got to laugh at your partner getting a right painful lump on his noggin’.

With some thought, it was decided to bring a little serenity to the energetic and colorful sea of blooms that enthralls the almost 1 million visitors that return each year. Hopefully, our exhibition would be seen as one of those contemporary elements that are welcomed in a recurring great storyline. We gave the installation the name The Serenity Garden and chose to use as many traditional Japanese style elements as we could tastefully squeeze into our 20′ x 15′ plot. The challenge was met by creating a 4 foot mound at the rear corner which allowed for some forced perspective. The temple on top of the hill and adjacent elements were kept to scale as though the distance from the viewer was greater than it actually was. The stream that originated from behind the temple gained some added mystique with a fogging machine and the washed pebbles in the stream graded from 1/4″ all the way to 5″ as it approached the Tsukubai fountain. At the base of the hill we nestled a dry water feature using screened gravel accented by bamboo and behind the fountain we added a Buddha statue to contemplate the peaceful setting.

As much fun as we had creating the Serenity Garden it paled in comparison to the joy we received by watching the flow of visitors stop and muse. For a moment, they stopped mouthing their cotton-candy or scanning ahead to see if the next attraction was more interesting, they pointed for others to not miss what caught their eye, took photographs, knelt down to caress the moss and most importantly came away with a new appreciation for one of the oldest stories ever told again and again, moss.

David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

*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.

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

Moss Rocks! David Spain on the Martha Stewart show

To view David’s segments, click here: David Spain on Martha Stewart scroll down; see it on the left?


There is a lot to be said for being asked to appear on the Martha Stewart television show.

Forever more, Moss and Stone Gardens has pedigree with bragging rights to quip, As seen on Martha Stewart TV.  In today’s vernacular, that means something.

On October 5, 2011, Moss expert David Spain, stood beside Martha chatting about moss.  It’s widely known, Martha is a lover of moss, with the grounds of her Maine home blanketed in various species of moss grown naturally in her locale.

With an invitation to appear just 2 weeks prior to the segment date, there was much to do.

 

David Spain reading in the Green Room of Martha Stewart's TV studio


Personally David was ready with the phone call.  David eats, sleeps and peeps moss; however, there was still much to be done.  Most of the preparation to appear on Martha’s show centered around what dishes to use to make the moss dish gardens, and more importantly, how to succinctly talk about propagating moss and doing a moss dish gardens in 6 minute segments each.  There is a lot to be said about moss; a lot to learn.

But the crackerjack Martha team found the right person to speak on the subject — David Spain.  David has dedicated his life work to the subject of moss.  And with moss trending, having an articulate spokesperson sharing mossology, will ensure keeping the trend going for some time to come.

STUDIO MEETING

We arrived the day before for a 3:30 studio meeting.  This gave us time to go over the
next day’s segments, as well as, time to unpack the boxes and set the tables.  We also got a tour of the studio, peaked into Martha’s office (we had to stand on our tippy-toes), and peered into the Green Room where David would wait before and after his appearance; where I too would hang out before I took my seat in the audience.

FIRST SEGMENT
Martha and David’s first segment kicked off with a little about David’s creds and some perky play about Mossology and testing the audience about some fun moss facts.

This was followed by learning how to propagate moss by knowing the difference between your Acrocarp and your Pluerocarp. We can say with confidence, Martha knows the difference.

At the end of the segment, Martha’s staff photographer took an image of the two at their work station.

SECOND SEGMENT
In their second segment, moss dish gardens were the main course, with a final adieu to Moss Rocks!

Martha and David were in their element, both appreciating moss in the natural landscape and creating miniature landscapes in the form of a dish garden.  Both dish gardens proved to be very easy to make and charming in design.

David’s dish gardens have been photographed by Country Gardens magazine for the early spring issue due out in January.  You are sure to be inspired to make your own and David gives a step-by-step approach to teach you how.

For more information on David Spain and Moss and Stone Gardens, visit their website or tour the media kit on this blog.

David Spain says, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience being on Martha Stewart’s TV show and until we meet again, Martha, Moss Rocks!

Words: 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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all photo 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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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