January 19, 2010
Mosses on Firewood, with an Experiment
When I bring firewood into the house during winter, I often notice that different forms of lichens and mosses are attached to the wood. They seem very alive, as though they'd be ready to get growing again if they were back in the woods. It turns out that mosses can go for many months without water, suspending their growth while in drought. I learned about this ability while reading Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a wonderfully informative and fascinating look at the tiny, beautiful plants. Her writing combines scientific details imparted with a great teacher's ability to make them understandable, and poetic musings on nature.
So, I thought, I'll pick off some of the moss from the log and place it in the rosemary flowerpot, which already had some moss growing in it, though a different species; it'll be happy to be watered again, I thought. The photo above was taken a couple of days after the move. But....I hadn't yet read the chapter detailing the difficulty of transplanting mosses; they are not at all like perennials, which you can move around the garden at will. Each species has a particular habitat and growth pattern; this moss which was happy far above the ground growing on bark, turned out not to like the environment of the flower pot. The lovely little moss is now brown, alongside the soft green carpet of the happy moss. I've learned that a moss is a plant to appreciate where it appears and grows, and that it is not one to be domesticated.