Everything You Ever Wanted (and didn’t want) to Know About Moss

Posted by Rochelle

I’m always up for being sent off on a research tangent.  Not knowing where it will end up, what I will learn and what will inspire me to something else, is endlessly satisfying.  So when my friend Patrick recently inquired on another post…

“Have gardeners incorporated moss species into their creations, whether they be Celtic gardens or not? Any guidance?”

…I was off and running on all things moss.  I know – I’ve not exactly answered the question….but that’s just because I unearthed so many more interesting things along the way.  Check it:

Everything you ever wanted (and didn't want) to know about moss - at www.pithandvigor.com - image by Sascha Wenninger - Moss near the Yarra River

moss books from www.pithandvigor.com

  • Have you read The Signature of all Things – a novel by  Elizabeth Gilbert? I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Alma Whittaker, a forgotten woman of science who yearns for friendship, love and knowledge.  If I had a top 10 list of favorite books ever, it would make the cut. This is relevant because Alma spends much of her life studying mosses and if you have even a glancing interest in this genus, it is worth a read – Elizabeth Gilbert is clearly an excellent researcher and though it is a novel, the science that is expertly laced through the story is super fascinating.


  • Elizabeth Gilbert cites Gathering Moss by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer as a touchstone for her while writing The Signature of All Things.   Here is an excerpt of the desription –  It sounds so intriguing don’t you think?

Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses. Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.

(from amazon)

moss gardeners david spain and annie martin

  • David Spain of  Moss and Stone Gardens has been on my radar for years.  He has a great website and shop full of information about moss gardening.  But this story also introduced me to Mossin’ Annie Martin.  Annie has a book coming out this fall that looks to be an excellent guide (you can pre-order).  I’ve found few other garden makers besides these two who specialize in moss gardens.


  • Want to preserve moss that you have collected? It isn’t very hard.  Plus the description is throughly entertaining.



  • I’ve read in numerous places that there is a Swedish Liquor made from distilling moss (I’m so curious).  I can’t find a recipe or a product – but I did find this in the New York Times in 1918. Swedish Moss alcohol new york times



  • And lastly, I love this shot of all the mosses used in the Japanese garden at Ginkaku-ji Temple outside of Kyoto – which was supposedly designed by the great landscape artist Sōami around 1500.  It’s like a 500+ year old planting plan.

mosses from Ginkakuji Temple garden

Got any other interesting moss links we should all check out?  Do share. 

images:  Sascha Wenninger (CC BY-SA 2.0) The New York Times, birdfarm (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Comments are closed.

Blog Comments

Thanks Teri!

Love this post! I have loved moss since I took a class in college at the University of Michigan. I’m not sure how much knowledge stuck with me, but I now have a lifelong appreciation. I will read both books with great pleasure.

Oh, this moss lovin’ woman saved this article to her bookmarks before getting past the word Moss. You wrote this just for me, didn’t you?

Here’s the link of a woman on Facebook who loves moss as well: https://www.facebook.com/oldmosswoman

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