Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Using Moss in A Shade Garden for a Path and in a Tree, and Mojo's New Garden Accomodations

I really enjoy using moss and lichens in my shade garden as well as in crafting. I've incorporated some into my daughter's wedding florals, and yesterday I showed how I am using it as a mulch in some of my garden pots too.

While I was out working in the garden yesterday I noticed that some of the trees in my shade garden have double trunks which means there are little nooks I could use for growing plants.

Down by our stream we have a strange misshapen tree trunk that we did not cut down because it is so interesting. A few days ago I noticed that one of the little woodland violet plants that grow along the stream bed was also growing in a crotch of that tree trunk. That must have been what inspired this idea, that and the pretty little trumpet vine growing over the green roofed bird house on the hill. I would love to make the trees in my shade garden more decorative!

I gathered some very moist moss from inside my moss cold frames, or 'terrariums'. These are just glorified large size clear plastic tubs with lids. I have two of these behind our shed/guest cabin, next to my 'concrete block & shower door cold frames'. Last year the plastic tubs were dubbed 'propagation boxes' for rooted shrub cuttings, this spring I have designated them as terrariums for growing mosses. I seem to be on a moss kick right now.

I took the little handfuls of moss and pushed them into the tree crotches then added a bit of compost and 'durt' from my garden and some bits of creeping jenny, stone crop sedum, and other small leaved ground cover plant-lets. In my first attempt I tried to use some ivy and vinca, but I thought it looked too bulky and not likely to survive well. Perhaps it would have worked had the crotches been larger than they are in the two trees I planted in. It seemed easier to keep a smaller more delicate plant moist in the tight little tree nooks.I put some moss and airy lichens--reindeer moss, over the plants and then watered gently.

When I stepped back I found that I really liked the way it looked. I anticipate it will trail down the tree nicely. Perhaps in time I will have things climbing up the trees and trailing down them. Creeping Jenny grows very fast here, it may not be so yellow in time as it is darker in the shade usually, and turns a sort of brownish color in winter. Its one of my favorite plants for a ground cover or in pots, sun or shade it performs beautifully and multiplies like bunnies.

I also have a little bit of creeping jenny on my mossy mosaic brick pathway as well as moss.

The ground in my shade garden is difficult. I've made raised beds beneath the trees and around the edges which are easy to work because of the depth of soil there. The paths however are not so easy. They are filled with old tree trunks and roots and rocks and the soil is a horrible sand over clay mess. Putting a 'proper' Better Homes and Garden TV type brick walkway in would be impossible budget wise for me, but I love old bricks and I do have some I got from our old rented house in Charlotte--with the landlord's permission. I don't have enough to do a path entirely of brick but I can make brick and stone and moss mosaics.

I started this project last year, its just a small patch, but I hope to do more with it over time. The nice thing about owning my land and house is I don't have to do it all at once do I? Unless I move on to heaven, I have all the time in the world.

Mosses and Lichens really do need to have the leaves removed from them and kept moist and semi-shaded. They like some sunshine though and I think that is why there are big mounds of moss on our property along our north west lot line which borders an open field. They are shaded there much of the day by the woods behind them and the wind coming over the open field blows the leaves off them. Its a perfect moss and lichen environment. I go there whenever I want to replenish my stashes. I'm hoping eventually I will be able to cultivate moss to go along woodland paths and in my shade garden and possibly even use as a 'green roof' on our shed/guest cabin.

We shall see, its ambitious and I only spend an hour or two in the garden in a day, there's always something else that needs doing. Honestly I could play out there all day if my body were a little younger and my to-do list shorter. ~smile~ I've had more time than usual lately, it being spring, and my back will testify to that fact. I think I need to work out there more in winter so I don't get so out of shape next year! Maybe that would be a good time to move mosses or to dig in new brick patches?

Like his Mom, Mojo could play in the garden all day too. I have begun a new strategy with him. He seems to prefer freshly planted moist beds in the shade as nice places for a Mojo to lie down and stretch himself after a bit of frisbee chasing. This doesn't go over well with me and he seems oblivious as to the reason why his frantic Mom sometimes decides to get after him with the hose, or shoe him with a little push of her shovel.

Well.. I've been putting pots and wire baskets and stakes and all sorts of things in my beds to try to make them less comfortable for Moj. Now I have decided to give him a bed of his own. One in the shade garden and perhaps another in the back yard near the fire pit someplace. Perhaps if he has a couple of 'Mojo's own leaf piles' that are nicely moist, he'll leave my beds alone? It seems to be reasonable in theory. I mean he has learned that he gets a rug on the floor and Hubby and I get the actual bed, couch, and other furniture in the house, perhaps he can also learn which areas of the yard he may lie or dig in and which he may not?

I hope so. I have noticed in his anatomy as a german shepherd puppy it appears he has more snout and nose area than brain area in his head, but I think he's probably as smart as any other dog, just has a dumb trainer maybe. Perhaps the larger snout and smaller brain area is why it takes Mojos so long to outgrow puppy-ness? Hubby tells me he is officially still a puppy for another year!

Mojo is a pack minded animal. That is so ingrained in him. He simply must be where we are doing what we do. If I am pulling up weeds, Moj wants to do that too. What fun, what fun! We are digging, the pack is doing this, not just Mom. If Mom is tired and sits, Mojo needs a comfy spot nearby. If Mom is being testy and won't let him dig--he will have lie down won't he? A nice green freshly watered in hosta makes a great pillow, and quickly gets Mom's attention too. What could be better?

Well I have begun a new experiment, will Mojo learn where he may lie down in the garden and where he may or may NOT dig? We shall see...

Have a great Spring Pokeberry Day!


  1. Pokeberries are great if you don't have a white horse who happens to enjoy them, as well! Moss is such a comfort to me -- I don't know why...Great project going here.

  2. Hey Pokeberry Mary ya place is looking really nice. I like the planting in the crotch of the tree, how cute.
    As for dogs diggng or lying in your beds, have ya thought of using old used woven wire over them. This is what I did to my herb bed and one of my flower beds and our great Pyrenees wont get on the wire at all, nor will the cats dig and do their business. Ya jus cut the wire so ya have little legs of wire to poke in the ground and it kinda holds the wire up off the ground, your plants wil grow right on thru and after they get up ya wont be able to see the wire but the animals will know its there. Just how I did it. Saved my beds and religion. lol
    Have a great day!

  3. It is 10:30pm and it has taken me three different periods of time starting from this morning to finish reading your post!!! It has been a busy day. Granddaughter had a fever of 103 and we took her to MD...has a right ear infection. Now on antibiotic and loads of love regime!!! Grandson also sick with cough and congestion. My son also has a cold. Hubby with cough and cold. My gosh...I sure hope it doesn't get me! I don't have time for it!

    Anyway...I hope you can get Mojo trained as to where he can lay. He is such a neat dog! I just love him.

    Is the roof of your shed in shade??? If not, maybe you could do a sedum roof! That would be awesome as well!!!

    Take care Mary!!!

  4. Stella--saved your 'beds and religion' I so get that. LOL.. actually I do have some rusty chicken wire and other similar stuff that was slated for the landfill... hmmm..

    Julie--I know, I write too much. Gosh you day sounds like mine stress wise--just different actual events. Thank God for gardens, they are the BEST stress reducers. Hmmm... succulent roof interesting. I was thinking of doing one of those succulent walls actually--but I don't have enough to use in the garden yet--that's first. Also--they don't all overwinter here. :( You do have the PERFECT succulent climate in Florida. We can only save a few here.

  5. Sharlene.. wow do you have a horse?? I thought you lived in the city for some reason. Do they eat the berries or the young plants? I love moss too, you are right it does make you feel calmer, quieter--its a great setter of moods.

  6. You SIL's family is all in Canada and they have hens and chicks! That would spread, and I belive, make it through the winters there. I will also see if there is a sedum (which is perfect for roofs) that will survive winter. But do you have shade or sun on that rooftop???

  7. Yah... I have hens and chicks and some good sedums... hmmm... but is there enough to spare for the roof?? I s'pose in bits and pieces. Moss could maybe even be sprayed on--in buttermilk--sort of like paint. I dunno. I have a feeling this is a project i'll never get to.. but its an idea eh?