Sunday, April 19, 2015

Moss Garden Replenishing

The perfect time to harvest moss to replenish your moss terrarium is in a drizzly rain after it has been raining steadily for long enough to refill all ephemeral ponds and saturate the ground enough to create a sucking mud.  Really, the moss is happy and bright, and it doesn't even seem to notice that it has been transplanted.  My moss garden was dried up and dead after a period of neglect this winter.  Step one was to put on the ancient, heavy rubber raincoat that I bought for the equivalent of about $5 in a gift shop on the rainiest, coldest, bleakest day of travel that I can ever remember-- on the Isle of Wight in the south of England -- and that I have failed to put a dent in in 25 years.  This coat is heavy but perfectly rainproof, unstylish and not cute, and it only comes down to a little above my knees, leaving my legs to get soaking in heavy rain.  But the thing is so sturdy that it defies getting rid of.  So I slithered into its chilly, rubbery embrace and set out to find moss.

Step 2 was to clean out the old dead garden, immediately followed by step 3, putting back the gravel into the bottom of the jar.  I also sprinkled in a little compost to sort of anchor the gravel.  Then step 4, which was to stuff the new moss into the bottle, not planting it, but just sort of pressing it toward the ground with a chopstick or a dinner knife.

The cork on my bottle has an interesting story connected to it.  I've had this very large cork for several years, and it happens to fit perfectly in the mouth of the bottle that is my jar.  I found the cork in Italy behind some abandoned buildings that included a cantina (wine cellar).  There were some very large jars for storing wine, and a couple of them had old corks stoppering them still.  I took one and brought it home, and I carved a relief print on the top of the cork.  The abandoned buildings were in a very old village named Salci, and a friend who had been born there told me that the coat of arms of Salci had been a bull standing over some snakes.  So that's what I carved on the cork (drawing 4463 is actually a print made by stamping the cork on a stamp pad and then on the parchment).  Drawing 4464 is of the cork itself, now serving as a stopper for my moss garden, which dries out very quickly with out it.

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