Tag Archives: The Moss Farm

Growing a Greener World

In June of 2012 Moss and Stone Gardens became the focus of a fantastic television series, Growing a Greener World. Hosted by Joe Lampl’ and broadcast nationally on PBS stations, GGWTV has become known for it’s appealling coverage of a broad range of interesting and topical green subjects. Beautifully filmed in high definition, it is a treat for the eyes as well as the soul. We were contacted by GGWTV’s co-executive producer and resident canning expert, Theresa Loe, expressing interest in learning more about mosses and the possibility of their inclusion for an upcoming show. After a few communications it was apparent that mosses and our work with them would have enough interest to become a full episode. Naturally we were thrilled with the aspect of another chance to share our message of mossy goodness with a national audience!

We awaited the arrival of Joe Lampl’ and the GGWTV team at our Moss Farm nursery with great anticipation. The visually stunning camera work that has become the trademark of GGWTV series was accomplished for our episode by the work of a very talented team of brothers, Carl Pennington and David Pennington. Together, Joe, Carl and David have traveled extensively to cover so many interesting topics and locations that to sit and talk with them is an adventure all it’s own. The few days that we spent together was an unforgettable experience and eye opening as to the demands of producing a high quality television series. I should mention that GGWTV is also comprised of other very talented personalities and team members which we didn’t have the opportunity to work with in person, such as the uber charming celebrity chef Nathan Lyon.  We did get to know some of the other great folks such as the previously mentioned Co-executive producer and chicken aficionado Theresa Loe as well as the existentially provocative Social media director Christa Hanson, both of which we adore and appreciate tremendously.

We began with a strategy meeting at sunrise – days always begin at sunrise when working with a television crew – and mapped out locations to film the script. We began filming rather quickly and wouldn’t you know it, I’m first up to bat with my close-up shots. Although not my first time on camera, I have to admit it was quite a challenge to condense my words within the framework of the script. Those of you who know me understand that I am not short-winded about my passion for moss! It was also hot as hades and impossible for me to not perspire. We were constantly running fans and wiping my face in between takes. I have to say that the patience of Joe, Carl and David in their determination to get the shot was phenomenal. Dealing with a sweaty, fumbling subject was only part of the ordeal as much of the challenge was constantly changing lighting and background noises.

After meticulous preparations we would be at the finish line of a segment only to have it interrupted by an amazing and seemingly determined variety of audio interlopers;  a plane overhead or a chainsaw or a car horn or a leaf blower or a lawn mower or a –I kid you not– crew of city workers with a bulldozer to clear a right-of-way at the bottom of our property!  Luckily for us they were PBS supporters and agreed to begin their clearing at the other end of the right-of-way.

Interesting to see, was just how seamlessly Joe could move from off-camera to on-camera. I suppose that after so many years of hosting television programs Joe has developed that skill but it is also apparent, watching him work, that  he is a natural talent. The really kind and enthusiastic person you see on the screen is what Joe is like in real life, but for that to be felt and seen by viewers, he also taps into his ease with the camera and keen focus on the subject matter. So what may look casual when edited and shown over a half hour program was really a grueling sun-up to sun-down schedule of scene set-up and shoots over a sweltering three and a half days.  Not once did I see Joe with even a bead of perspiration! That twit! Oh, did I type that out loud?!

Ken and I were fascinated by Carl and David’s expertise with the visual and audio recording of the events.  Obviously they are pros and it shows. Both Ken and I relate very well to the challenges of documenting our work with mosses but these guys were also capturing sound. Their commitment to high quality audio was very rigorous to accomplish and constituted most of the demands of the time needed for the shoot. We became attuned to the ambient sounds during filming but mostly kept an eye on David as he listened through his headphones. By the last day of shooting I could sense an approaching sound violation by the slight cocking of David’s head as the microphone picked up the earliest vibrations detectable to his trained ear.

Needless to say, all the work to make this episode happen was worth it and, thanks to Joe and his crew, we are one step closer to giving mosses their due and taking them off the list of weeds to spray with herbicides. With topics like this being examined on quality programs we can all learn how to work towards growing a greener world.

Visit Growing a Greener World’s website to see the Moss Gardens episode #319 from season 3 or look up your local listings and find when it airs on your local PBS station. While your there, be sure to check out all the other amazing episodes and connect with the GGWTV team and joe gardeners’ from around the world through their Facebook page.

David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock

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


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


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.

Country Gardens Magazine photo shoot of moss dish gardens

To be fair, I should have warned Country Gardens Magazine’s photographers about moss.  To our readers as well, moss be warned.   Having touched on the side-effects of moss in an earlier post, I now think it’s of the utmost importance to spell it out — moss gardens will seduce you.  Once seduced, the side-effects are too individualized to generalize.  I can only share with you my observations during a recent photo shoot at The Moss Farm.

With 2 days of photoshoots scheduled, Country Gardens Magazine’s Marty Baldwin and
his assistant Bekah Garrison arrived with a clear understanding of the tasks at hand.  What they didn’t count on were the side-effects moss would have on them.

Side-effects are difficult to predict.  Each person must deal with their own inner feelings at their own rate and pace.  Plus, the ability to resist temptation is subjective.  You know your own weaknesses.  Just know, moss melts muscle.  Even the strongest are unable to temper their inner quiet.

First time visitors to a moss garden will need to work out their own inner moss manners.

Owners of Moss and Stone Gardens,David Spain and Ken Gergle, have long learned how to work with moss in a professional manner, keeping moss seduction under control. To an extent anyway.  Both David and Ken will share with you that this is neither easy nor completely controllable.  They do the best they can.

Like most people seeing a moss garden for the first time, Marty and Bekah, trod lightly on the moss.  They didn’t need too, of course, but moss will do that to you.

Marty — strong, silent, stoic — was the first to step in.  I could feel his energy heighten to a red alert resisting the temptation to roll on the moss like a little puppy.  It appeared Marty was resisting temptation and I wanted to know how.  I didn’t ask though, it would be too personal of a question.  Later I realized he didn’t resist.  He merely acted like he did.  When I reviewed the photos he was supposed to take for the feature, I realized he photographed beyond the photo order.  I called him on it.  “So Marty, what are these shots.  Are you scouting this garden?  Quickly he replies, “No,” but then with a sly smile, he says, “Well yes, maybe.”  Even an incredible professional, photographing beauty everyday, was seduced.

I had a weak moment during the photo shoot, as well.  Even though I knew the powers of this seducer.  During one of the photo set-ups, I needed to lie on the moss to better view the angle of the shot.  As I lowered my body towards the ground, the seducer’s energy pulled me in.  Once on the ground, lying on my right side, I could feel the moist moss and it’s ancient wisdom, the moss was healing my hardened heart. Fighting the puppy effect, I did what I needed to do to finish and moved on.

Watching Bekah, on the other hand, was a different matter.  Bekah had youth on her side, adding to the puppy equation.  Although Bekah didn’t roll on the moss like a playful puppy (or at least I didn’t see her), she was extremely weak in the understanding, or perhaps not caring, about the side-effects of moss.  The first thing she did was take off her flip flops to feel the moss on her bare feet.

Personally, I was a little worried for her since the outcome was too uncertain.  When walking on the moss, she chatted more, laughed more, and twirled.  I thought this would be the worse of it.  But about an hour into the shoot, I passed out apples.  Apparently, Bekah was famished.  She took the apple and started to moan and groan with outward pleasure and, if you can believe this, she started to dance.  Her chatter turned into a lyrical song, as she danced and ate, with shameless abandonment.

Bekah’s side-effects were so bad, withdrawals were predicted, so David and Ken boxed some moss for Bekah to take home with her.

After the photo shoot, we headed to NoFo’s in Raleigh for a little lunch.  Everything tasted better, the conversation was engaging and entertaining.  Time stopped.  Even though Marty and Bekah had a plane to catch and I had kids to pick up, we lingered at the table a little longer, each with individual reflections of our magical moss experiences, and a bond only moss can make.


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.


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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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 info@mossandstonegardens.com.

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