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

July 25, 2022

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 about garden moss on another post…

“Have garden designers 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 – this collection mossy missives do not exactly answer the question. But that’s just because I unearthed so many more interesting things along the way.  

Everything you Ever wanted (and didn’t want) to know about garden moss:

everything you ever wanted (and didn't want) to know about moss
moss books from
  • 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. Why is this relevant? Because Alma spends much of her life studying mosses. So, if you have even a glancing interest in this genus, it is worth a read. Elizabeth Gilbert is clearly an excellent researcher. Even though The Signature of All Things is a novel, the science is expertly laced throughout this story and it 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.

Gathering Moss is definitely another book to add to the garden library – especially if you are a moss lover.

(from amazon)

moss gardeners david spain and annie martin

Beyond Books – Other Fascinating Garden Moss links

  • Want to preserve moss that you have collected? It isn’t very hard.  Plus the description is throughly entertaining.
  • If you’ve been shot in the woods – your best hope is for a handy supply of spagnum moss.
  • In Sweden, they make a liquor by 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
  • If you have a mossy lawn – you have two choices – according to Bill Cullina. (there is some great advice here!)
  • And lastly, I love this shot of all the mosses used in the Japanese garden at Ginkaku-ji Temple outside of Kyoto. The landscape around Ginkaku-ji Temple 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
  • One of my most popular Pinterest boards is full of lots of inspiration for Celtic Gardens. If you have some Irish in you and want your garden to take on the lush green-ness of the Emerald isles, you need moss in your garden! Check out the board for ideas.
  • My favorite way to finish the top of any potted indoor houseplant or outdoor container garden is to pack in moss around the plants to cover the soil. The moss acts like a mulch to help keep the soil from drying out too quickly and it just makes everything a little bit prettier and more finished. I buy big boxes of super moss so that I always have it on hand.

Got any other interesting moss links we should all check out?  Please Share them in the comments – I’ll add them to this post! 

Other Moss Posts you Might be interested in:

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

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  1. Martha Daly says:

    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.

  2. Tricia says:

    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:

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