Page 27 - The Hunt - Summer 2018
P. 27

 Velvety green moss is a calming element in a garden. Deer don’t eat it. It needs no mowing. It looks right with casual shade gardens, growing with ferns, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and native wildflowers. It grows on compacted soil and even rocks. It needs no fertilizer or pesticide, and it does well in semi-shade. It makes a soft coating which gives your pots, containers and troughs an
old world look. It appears when conditions are right, because native moss spores are in the air everywhere, growing as nature intended when they fall on hospitable ground. In other words, it’s easy.
seal, trillium, and Dutchman’s breeches share the beds with hellebores, hostas, violas, astilbe, primula, ferns and many other shade perennials. In between and far- ther back, azaleas, hydrangeas, fothergilla, deciduous hollies, and other shrubs and trees—both native and non-native—take the garden out to the limit.
Although the moss is, to me, easier than a grass lawn, it took a while to establish— even if it was already growing. Starting by weed whacking the shaded area down to bare ground, I followed up by hand-pulling grasses and weeds that reappeared, leaving the happy moss (whatever kinds appeared) to fill the space and serve as a natural mulch and erosion preventer. I brought in moss transplants from other parts of my yard and shaded driveway to fill things out. I scraped up pieces about 2-3 inches wide with a little fork or my fingers, tamped them down into the lawn, and kept them watered. Spring and early summer are good times to do this because it rains a lot. Once
My own half acre is mostly shade. Long ago I decided that I was fighting the wrong battle and started removing the patchy lawn grass and helping the existing moss instead. I am happy with the low neatness of the mossy areas because of the contrast with the overflowing borders. The islands of calm make the exuberant masses of larger plants seem more wonderful. Some people
hate moss and some love it, but more gar- deners are giving moss a chance these days. Sunny areas near my patio are showier,
but farther away, paths lead through the soft moss to beds of shade plants which look as if they belong where they’re planted. Early spring bulbs bloom before the deciduous trees leaf out. Ephemeral native plants such as Virginia bluebell, bloodroot, Solomon’s
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