Although mosses are
simple and rather primitive plants they are not easy
to determinate nor easy to cultivate. And when they
find their way often not easily eliminated. Mosses
(Dutch: korstmos) offer a science on their own.
Moss is a very hardy plant. If the leaves dry out, plants are revived by soaking with water. Some can survive over hundreds of years.
When you want additional information on any of the mosses you can use the Latin or common name and go to the applicable website in the section Links related to moss and lichen at the bottom. Or just type in the name in you favorite search engine and see the results that in most cases will be plenty.
In Tsubo-en we have intentionally not planted any mosses as groundcover. This was a design requirement originating from prior experience. Most mosses that we do have, did grow there by natural causes. Not to elect for mosses as groundcover has two important reasons:
The above implies that ground covers are used as a
replacement for mosses that would be used in a
Japanese garden in Japan.
In Japan the coveted "star moss"
To find out what replacements are used in Tsubo-en,
please see the Groundcovers chapter.
When you start thinking about mosses, where you have them and want them and where and which ones are unwanted, you may be surprised of the number of mosses and places you come across. At least that was our experience.
In Tsubo-en we have many species of moss that can be subdivided into two types: Wanted and unwanted mosses.
To be more precise we should ad ..."on this spot". A moss may be wanted or even desired or required (think of achieving sabi and wabi) to cover a specific object or place, but the same moss may be unwanted on an other spot or object.
In this category we can differentiate between mosses that grow intentionally on a specific surface and those that are accepted and tolerated. This chapter addresses the intentionally growing specimen.
|As "groundcover" for bonsai mosses are indispensable. Sometimes a suitable moss just finds its way. More often we use the transplantation method to get a moss growing at the desired spot. Here Fissidens bryoides (Dutch: Gezoomd vedermos). Here growing under our oldest bonsai oak, Quercus robur.|
A number of objects if not require than at
least they desire to be covered with mosses or
lichen to get
This is the chouzubachi of the main garden tsukubai facility.
The "mosses" here are very much lichen and algae.
The same that is stated for the chouzubachi is
true for the
hakamazuri-ishi or tsukubai-ishi (also
mae-ishi) as the front step stone.
This stone has a metal version of the "coin" as described for the front garden tsukubai, chiselt in as an inlay.
In this natural stone terace, named "hidden
terace", located near the water front, moss is
a higly desired groundcover filling the
This is moss that grows naturaly in the garden and the surounding.
This photo shows a close-up of some hidden
terace joints filled with moss.
This (most probably) is Fissidens taxifolius Hedw. (Dutch: Kleivedermos), native to the vicinity.
The same species can be found in the path
Although the growth started by natural causes we give it a hand to survive and get even better.
This is hard to do as it is a war against the blackbirds.
Worm-holes are yet an other concern.
|Not sure yet iwheter this is a moss or a lichen. Whichever it is it adds to being sabi.|
|This also is Fissidens taxifolius Hedw. (Dutch: Kleivedermos), native to the vicinity.|
This shows our raihaiseki
that lays in the main garden ginshanada.
It is a large flat natural stone, now fully overgrown with a thin layer of lichen (moss). Actually this is number of different yet unidentified lichen.
This photo shows the "head" of the "turtle
island" in the front garden. It has a had of
This (most probably) is Caloplaca flavescens (Hudson) J.R. Laundon (Dutch: Gelobde citroenkorst).
Easily confused with C. aurantia and C. decipiens, C. thallincola or Candelariella medians.
It also grows on our roof tiles where it is unwanted !
This are the unintentionally growing mosses that are
accepted or tolerated, that is growth of mosses in
the sense of "don't mind" or "won't
These can be mosses that grow in between ground covers, e.g. on tsukiyama grounds, or solitary growing mosses and lichen.
In the center we see moss that just grows there. This is the same moss that we find in the path joints as described above. Fissidens taxifolius Hedw. (Dutch: Kleivedermos), native to the vicinity.
The originally planted groundcover did not grow well.
At the bottom that is growing just fine, Leptinella minor (prev. Cotula).
At the top we have yet another groundcover that performs great and grows in from the area under our Pinus densiflora, Japanese Red Pine (Me-matsu). This is Thyme, Thymus praecox "minor" that forms a great low-maintenance carpet.
To us this combination is just fine. May the strongest survive.
|Fissidens incurvus Röhl (Dutch: Gekromd vedermos) here growing uninvited on the garden-wall stones. We are glad it does and leave it there.|
Moss living in harmony with our primary
potentillina (prev. Cotula).
Mostly the Cotula looks better. This is a very
dry and sunny spot. The moss nevertheless likes
|Fissidens taxifolius Hedw. (Dutch: Kleivedermos) again. Now growing solitary at a tobi-ishi step stone. This is "won't harm" situation and even ads to the sabi experience. If it gets too invasive it needs to be thinned out.|
Lichen Caloplaca flavescens (Hudson) J.R.
Laundon (Dutch: Gelobde citroenkorst) growing
on a step stone.
This is only just acceptable as it can get very slippery. This needs to be watched closely.
Most mosses are perennial and can be very invasive. Below we give an impression of most of the "problem" mosses in Tsubo-en. Some of them keep us very busy.
Our greatest enemies are
Hypnum cupressiforme, cypress-leaved
plait-moss (Dutch: Gewoon of Gesnaveld
klauwtjesmos) and Hypnum jutlandicum (Dutch:
Hygrohypnum luridum (Dutch: Gewoon spatwatermos),
the first and last ones being the
most widely occurring.
To the left it tries to overgrow the Thyme groundcover, Thymus praecox "minor".
Although this forms a very tight carpet it manages to get trough.
If we let it go, the moss
Hypnum cupressiforme would easily take over
our main groundcover Leptinella
potentillina (prev. Cotula).
It looks fresher green and shows less seasonal coloration than the Cotula that it overgrows in winter.
|Hygrohypnum luridum is also well settled on the ground under the Buxus and inbetween the Cotoneaster dammeri.|
Our second strongest enemy is Marchantia
polymorpha, common liverwort, (Dutch: Parapluutjesmos).
It can be found in every crack and corner on
Here it is found under the Buxus.
A major problem with Marchantia
polymorpha, common liverwort, is the fact that
it will not only grow in the joints but also
over it and would eventually cover the
It also overgrows the wanted and accepted mosses.
|An other example of Hypnum cupressiforme, cypress-leaved plait-moss and Hygrohypnum luridum (Hygrohypnum Moss).|
|As you can see Hypnum cupressiforme, cypress-leaved plait-moss and Hygrohypnum luridum (Hygrohypnum Moss), are not at all demanding and will just grow everywhere as long as they get some moist. Here in the gravel of the ginshanada.|
|Not moss but we wanted to give these a place. In most places fungus and mushroom are unwanted.|
|On the profiled Bangkirai wood (Shorea) used for the veranda we also can not allow mosses, lichen and algae to grow.|
Here we document what went wrong with regard to the groundcovers that we used or wanted to use.
For the enthusiast we have added some links.