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What is Moss?
Mosses are small flowerless plants that typically grow in dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. Botanica highlights the beauty of these tiny bryophytes and draws you in to its perfect, miniature world.
Different varieties of moss can be found everywhere if you take the time to look. Even in urban areas, so no need to take moss from protected and national parks (this is not cool and mostly illegal). Chill out on a relaxing walk around your neighbourhood and collect a nice lush piece for your Botanica. Even brown, dry moss can be returned to life in a few hours of deep rehydration. You can clean the moss before you use it but sometimes you get exciting surprises if you just let it be… like mushrooms and tiny flowers.
The Art of Collecting Moss
The trick is to remember where you collected your moss! This environment will inform you on exactly what your Botanica needs. Super damp (like the Fontinalis) or well drained (like the Dicranum). Indirect sun, or none at all? Take note of the environment and you are set.
- Rescuing Moss: Remove it from places it would inevitably be destroyed.
- Please remember, not to take moss from protected forests or parks.
- Harvesting from your property: Take only small sections, leave enough for colonies to recover. You only need of 6-7cm in diameter of moss to fill Botanica.
Traditional uses of mosses included as insulation and for the ability to absorb liquids up to 20 times their weight.
A passing fad for moss-collecting in the late 19th century led to the establishment of mosseries in many British and American gardens. The mossery is typically constructed out of slatted wood, with a flat roof, open to the north side (maintaining shade). Samples of moss were installed in the cracks between wood slats. The whole mossery would then be regularly moistened to maintain growth.
Some sphagnum mosses can absorb up to 20 times their own weight in water. In World War I, Sphagnum mosses were used as first-aid dressings on soldiers’ wounds, as these mosses said to absorb liquids three times faster than cotton, retain liquids better, better distribute liquids uniformly throughout themselves, and are cooler, softer, and be less irritating. It was also claimed that they have mild antibacterial properties. Native Americans were one of the peoples to use Sphagnum for diapers and napkins, which is still done in Canada.
Considered by botanists some of the oldest plants, bryophytes date back 450 million years. That’s 50 million years before plants like ferns appeared on Earth. Their unique characteristics have enabled mosses to withstand desiccation while subjected to extremes in climate changes – a testament to their sustainability and longevity.
Bryophytes can be found around the globe from lush tropical forests to arid deserts to arctic niches. Habitats range from the mountains to the sea. Featuring these hardy native plants and treating them as a viable horticultural choice is exemplified in Japan’s grand moss gardens. Beyond Japanese Tea Gardens, there are many new “green” options to consider. Mosses make excellent “green” plant choices for the modern, environmentally-conscious gardener.
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