Go Green With Mosses

By George Graine, Fairfax Master Gardener
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.
—Thomas Fuller in Gnomologia (1732)

moss garden

A peaceful place in the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden at Duke University

Many gardeners seem to have a love or hate relationship with moss. I suspect the latter is more prevalent because gardeners often consider moss as some kind of pesky plant that is out-of-place, even incorrigible, and must be destroyed. Why is moss so often a victim of the garden rake or some potion to rid your landscape of this emerald green beauty?

Annie Martin (aka Mossin’ Annie), author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening (Timber Press, 2015) may convince you to give moss another chance. Moss can add interest to special places in your landscape where it can grow and thrive with minimal effort on your part. Furthermore, Mossin’ Annie provides the reader inspiration, environmental justification, and practical advice.

No doubt you are familiar with mosses in natural areas and parks. They might even be a common occurrence in your neighborhood – in the grass, brick and paver walkways, tree stumps, etc. If no one planted this moss, how did it get there? Moss reproduces through spores; the plant does not have flowers or seeds. Spores were likely dispersed by wind or rain, a bird, some critter, or maybe your shoes. Moss is a natural “encroachment” and sometimes seen as a petty annoyance. But with a different mindset, you could consider moss to be a hidden jewe