FOUND — One Japanese Garden by the Side of the Trail

My family and I were on a trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park when we saw a boulder-filled stretch of creek that intrigued us. I gazed at the rounded mossy boulders, abundant plants, branches and water. As I turned around, I noticed how beautiful and harmonious this spot was from every angle, like a Japanese Garden.

Big Basin Redwoods SP

The locale had a couple of plants that I want to mention. One is liverwort, which like moss, is a primordial plant without roots that takes in water from its leafy surface. To me, it’s an uncommon plant I see from time to time in a creek, and according to my plant ID resources, it’s found throughout the world, including deserts and the arctic.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The second plant I want to call out appears in the foreground of most of these photos showing off its bright green five-fingered leaves. My plant friends from Facebook say this is Western coltsfoot or petasites frigidus var. Palmatus.


Changing the topic back to moss; I’ve had a powerful interest in moss for approximately 10 years now. People often ask me, Why moss? I think this question implies something negative like “Why are you so interested in moss of all things?”

Mossy Rocks | Japanese Garden

I’ve asked myself the question over and over and I come up with the same answer each time. I have a lifelong love of color and texture and I’m infatuated with the bright green and fuzzy texture of moss. I want to have a modern and edgy sensibility — but if I’m honest, I actually have a romantic and sensual vision, and moss is linked to that vision.

I also love how moss is an element from the background. It’s like the cello and the bass in an orchestra; an instrument that rarely has a solo like a violin, flute or trumpet. I like flipping the symphony over on its head and making the cello the main instrument. In my mind, the moss represents what is overlooked, hidden, quiet and subtle; I love taking it out of the background and bringing it to the foreground.

Moss Plants


Sun Dappled Mossy Glade

I think these are the kinds of photos I try to avoid taking. No chain link fence or edgy details to play off, but beautiful nature photos. This mossy glade is a mini-park at Oxford and Indian Rock Road in Berkeley in case you want to visit. It’s one block up from Indian Rock.

Mossy Rock Berkeley, CA

Yellow Lichen, Moss & Wild StrawberryBright Yellow Lichen, Moss & Wild Strawberry
Green Mossy RockCute Green Mossy Rock
Mossy RocksCute Small Mossy Rocks
Sun Dappled Mossy RocksSun Dappled Mossy Rocks

Karen Nierlich Moss Enthusiast
Moss Enthusiast Karen Nierlich

Karen Nierlich is a photographer and avid moss enthusiast in Albany, CA. She’s working on a book of moss photos tentatively titles “Moss in the City.” Subscribe for weekly updates. Or follow her on Twitter at Karen Nierlich.

Moss Miniature Dish Gardens

A few weeks ago I wrote about Moss Rocks created by David Spain, a landscape architect in Raleigh, North Carolina. My business women mind is proud of David for creating a marvelous home decor “product” that is beautiful, easy to care for and makes a great gift. This is an artsy, natural object that is perfectly priced as a gift and can be sold for ongoing income.

Moss Art
Japanese Maple Moss Rocks by David Spain

My artist self wants to show you the other things David makes. One-of-a-kind moss miniature dish gardens…similar to bonsai. The miniature moss dish gardens incorporate many elements in addition to moss such as lichen, wood, ceramic, glass bell jars, other plants. If you go to the moss and stone gardens website, you can see many photos of the moss dish gardens. There are also mossy landscapes to admire.

The example in the photo here is planted in a found piece of maple. That’s a minature Japanese maple in the center surrounded by different mosses, lichen covered rock and a small # of ferns. Very delicate, landscape-like and restful to gaze on.

Karen Nierlich Moss Enthusiast
Moss Enthusiast Karen Nierlich

I gave one of the moss rocks as a gift this holiday and received one as a gift as well. My sister-in-law gave several as gifts. I have one on my desk by my computer where I can look at it at any time and I’ll even admit to petting it.


The Iconic Moss Maiden and her Giant

The Moss Maiden and her Giant friend reside in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall. The two sculptures were created by Artist Sue Hill and her brother Pete Hill. In the photos the giant looks alive…the shape of his eye sockets and eye balls are so compelling. His sculpted ear and nose are somewhat exaggerated and humorous and integrate so well with the plants of his hair and skin. The moss maiden I admire for the way she hugs the earth and becomes one with the forest around her.

Moss Maiden and Giant at the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Top three images are the Giant, Lower image is the Moss Maiden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

If you are wondering how the moss maiden was created…the project started with a hallow frame of timber and windbreak netting which was then covered with sticky mud. Mud, sand and cement were mixed together to form her face and hands and then coated with yogurt to encourage the growth of lichen. Her hair is Woodsedge and Montebretia plants while her clothes are ivy.

The Giant’s head was created out of a fallen tree with a huge root ball. Again, mud was plastered onto the tree root to create the face. Finally twigs were scattered through and stuck on the top of the head.

Sue and Pete Hill have created other moss maidens for The Eden Project in Cornwall and the 2006 Chelsea Flower show and other earthwork installations. Today Sue is a core member of Wildworks, an unconventional Cornish theatre group that travels the world to create massive installation/ theater events.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are an expansive Cornwall, England estate that fell into neglect during WWII. Today its a popular botanical garden. From the mid-18th Century to the beginning of the 20th Century, the Tremayne family created the gardens which are made of several gardens of different designs as was typical of 19th Century estates. Before WWI there were 22 gardeners caring for the gardens, 16 of whom died in the war. In the decades that followed the house was rented out. In the 1990’s the gardens were rediscovered and restored by a member of the extended family and other garden enthusiasts. The local economy was revitalized when the garden restoration project became the subject of a British TV series in 1996.

You can see other mud/moss sculptures at this link including several moss maidens’ created by Sue and Pete Hill.
Learn more about the Lost Gardens of Heligan on Wikipedia.
Short Bio of Sue Hill at The Wildworks.
Moss Maiden Video at “Look Around Cornwall”

Giving credit where credit due. As best I can tell these Moss Maiden and Giant photos are by: Ollie O’Brien, Fat Dad, Walt Jabsco (larger Giant image), and Liz Jones (maiden).