The Japanese have been true connoisseurs of moss for centuries. But in a recent conversation a fellow plant lover informed me that moss was her number one. I mean of ALL the plants, moss ruled her world. And that got me to thinking about moss… After all why would something so small be so high on the list of so many? There are hundreds of kinds of moss, of course, all with very different textures and hues, all verrrry velvety, and yet also sooo difficult to identify from one another. I remember, as little kids, my brother and I were always seeking out the mossy groves for building club houses. There is something quite refined about a plant that softens the seat so nicely… Thanks be, ’cause the sheer number of hues of green could make one dizzy! You might even call the color experience mesmerizing. But peel the color away and it’s still completely appealing.
When you look closely at moss, it’s almost a miniature version of the trees that it finds refuge under. On so many levels it’s the perfect essence of a forest. No wonder it’s also the favorite medium for building a terrarium. Urban dwellers are looking for that experience of a deep vibrant green, and moss is the source. It was also one of the first terrestrial plants; important in breaking down stone and turning sand into soil with it’s compost. So whether moss is in an ancient forest, a highly manicured garden, a terrarium, or on a wall as graffiti — it seems to impart a strong presence to the place it inhabits.
For a while now I’ve been planting moss in my garden designs to create a carpet affect and have also dabbled with mixing moss with yogurt (in a blender) and painting the mixture on rocks to fast forward the look of an aged rock. What’s the saying? “A rolling stone gathers no moss?” This would be like the stone goes into deep meditation and wakes up with dark green furry moss everywhere! It’s brilliant.
A while back, a close friend talked with me about designing a hanging moss wall. This is someone who doesn’t know much about plants but has a natural curiosity for trying new things and a real sense of design. And although we haven’t hit on quite the right medium for a hanging moss habitat, I still think about how incredibly vibrant something that soft and alive would be covering a wall in a living room. Waaaay better than just another shag rug… The real thing!