Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kathleen Smith Moss Garden: A Guided Walk

Thuidium moss in the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden
Photos and text by Flora O’Brien

Mosses are growing all around us—on rocks, stream banks, shaded rooftops and trees, and emerging from the cracks in sidewalks. It’s ubiquitous, yet ever intriguing in its myriad shapes and forms. Come visit the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum and you’ll see for yourself the diversity of these primitive plants.

As you enter from the east, you’ll find a patch of Thuidium, commonly called delicate fern moss, on your right.  In the photo above, you can see its resemblance to fern. Also visible are the projections above the leaves of the plant. These are the spore-carrying reproductive bodies.
Atrichum (starburst) moss

A few steps farther along is an aged cedar stump inhabited by two species of Atrichum moss, also known as starburst moss. Continue on and there is a short dirt path on the left   leading you deeper into the garden. 


Again on your left, behind the hand-carved Japanese water basin and at the base of the pine, you’ll see tufts of Leucobryum, aptly called pincushion moss (photo at left). 

Polytrichum and Thuidium

 Ahead is an outcropping of stone sheltering Climacium, palm tree moss, and a lovely vignette of Polytrichum and Thuidium mosses (photo at right).

A tableau of mosses

Back on the stone path there is a tableau of rocks and small hillocks, all loved by various mosses, lichen and liverworts. And scattered throughout the garden, you will find tufts of bluets that have emerged to greet the spring. 

As you leave, be sure to look for the tiny meadow of Hypnum moss on the left.  

Bluets signal the emerging spring.
Members of the Duke Gardens staff lovingly harvested all of these mosses locally, sustainably and with permission. Enjoy your stroll, and come back again!

Blogger Flora O’Brien is a Duke Gardens volunteer who assists in the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden.

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