Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mossy Domain

Today was the start of our second or third "polar vortices" with very sub-zero wind chill factors.  I can't imagine this will be good for some of our plants and critters outside but I'm glad that we at least have some insulating snow.  I had some fun talks over the weekend including one on ferns & mosses.  I always include some reference to "Mr. Moss" (see below) and share both photos of his home garden and recent work on the moss garden at RBG.  To say that he is a "moss enthusiast" is an understatement to say the least.  I've blogged about some of his exploits in the past but thought I'd share more photos of what he does in his own home garden.  The shot directly below and some at the bottom are from his work at RBG but the rest are from his home landscape.  His 1 acre garden (Waukesha, WI), while including lots of mossy areas, also has other themes and plantings and is one of the neatest residential gardens I've ever visited.  We'll continue to augment and encourage the mosses in our two newly renovated areas (thanks to Dale!) and are excited about promoting this primitive plant as a beautiful addition to the shade garden.  Dale is now experimenting with full sun mosses and it will be interesting to visit his garden in the near future.

With the cold, we had a smaller crew today but still saw plenty of volunteer help.  We're closed tomorrow but I'll likely come in to continue my winter research and ordering.  We have reliable painters coming in every day too. Vern, Jim and Ron Y. worked on carpentry projects while Gene continued to re-seal some of our benches.  Pat processed lights and helped Dr. Gredler with some painting.  Maury ran errands and Dick H. stopped by as well.  Bill O. came in later to help Larry out and Mary W. worked on some projects in the office.  Janice also came in for projects and we had a nice meeting of our Horticultural Therapy Committee which included Janice, Mary W., Art H., Elaine W., Darcie O. and Karen B.

With a 400 million year history, mosses have been thriving for a very long time in habitats conducive to its best growth.  There are over 12,000 species of moss worldwide with 400 native to Wisconsin alone.  I personally can't tell the difference (besides a basic visual assessment) between most although Mr. Moss has a fairly extensive knowledge of most of the local mosses.  Mosses don't have roots, flowers or seeds.  They reproduce by spores and have what are called "rhizoids" for adherence to the soil, a boulder, etc.  Their biology is amazing and I hope some of the pictures here inspire you to consider the potential of establishing mosses (by "planting" little tufts) in your home landscape.  There is a great book on Moss Gardening by George Schenk that I recommend often for those interested in this gardening opportunity (or the topic in general).

Above is "Mr. Moss" at RBG in 2012 renovating our moss islands. Below are just some of the samples that he collected and brought for installation.  He did a dynamite job along with help from Marv B., Terry, Big John and Janice.  The improvements were significant and appreciated by staff and visitors alike.  We look forward to working with Dale in the future and hope to re-visit his garden as soon as possible as well.  


Larry said...

These photos really are beautiful… I've often admired the look of moss gardens… Larry

Mark Dwyer, Director of Horticulture, Rotary Botanical Gardens said...

Thanks Larry! I should have mentioned that most of those were taken by Dale himself.