Moss Appeal

Moss is an appealing feature of many woodland gardens. Beyond providing inspiration for fairy tales, moss acts as a filter, absorbing pollutants from the air and rainwater as it releases oxygen. It’s one of the many plants that produce the clean, fresh scent associated with forest walks.

I have a fond childhood memory of crawling on my hands and knees onto a soft, emerald-green carpet of moss growing under a grove of mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) in my grandparents’ yard. Crouched low to the ground during a game of hide-and-seek, I watched small insects climb through what appeared to be a miniature forest. Songbirds called out to each other nearby, and small woodland creatures rustled through sticks and dried leaves in the background. Even now, decades later, the scent of rich organic matter evokes that multisensory memory. 

I’ve made peace with the moss growing in shady spots around my yard. I no longer try to force my hard-packed soil to support grass instead. This spring, I’ll gently dig up a small handful of moss to add to a May basket. Small twigs will become trees; pebbles and rocks will become stones and boulders, and wild violets and clover will become trees and shrubs in my miniature woodland landscape, clearly inspired by the mossy hideaway from my past.

Leaving moss to grow is a simple way to support the Simsbury Pollinator Pathway Pledge. I hope you will join us in finding ways to create more pollinator friendly spaces.