The magical world of moss gardening

Our book of the month is The Magical World of Moss Gardening by Annie Martin.  


The Magical World of Moss Gardening

by Annie Martin

Timber Press, £15
ISBN 978-1604695601


In a nutshell: 'A detailed look at the beauty and versatility of moss with considered advice on how to grow and use it in the garden'.

Reviewer Noël Kingsbury is a writer and plantsman.






To say ‘it’s more moss than grass’ is an almost standard gardening expression about a poor quality lawn. This book takes off with that idea, suggesting we forget the grass and celebrate the beauty, utility and versatility of mosses. Japanese gardens make creative use of moss, and so, it would appear, do an increasing number of those in North America. Get up close, and it is easy to appreciate how beautiful mosses are; they seem to dominate certain habitats, and there are lots of different species – 760-odd in the British Isles alone.

The book, written by an enthusiastic grower from North Carolina known as ‘Mossin’ Annie’, starts off (perhaps with an eye to convincing the sceptic) with a tour of gardens that creatively use moss. She moves on to the natural history of mosses, explaining how they are different to other, more advanced, plants, then discusses in some detail 25 recommended species (many of which might be American although most genera are common to North America and Europe) and moves on to advise on designing with mosses and giving detailed advice on how to grow them.

Comprehensive, inspirational, and full of information, this is a fascinating book for anyone wanting to truly broaden the range of plants they grow. The author’s home region is a very moss-friendly one, but I was left feeling a bit unsure about how those of us in other places might choose a good location for growing them. The plants appear to flourish (and crucially non-mosses do not thrive) once certain low thresholds of light, moisture and nutrients are reached, however, I did not feel I got the guidance I wanted here. Nevertheless a very useful guide, and key perhaps to bringing life to some of the garden habitats conventionally seen as particularly challenging.


You can buy this book from the Gardens Illustrated book shop for a reader offer price of £12.50 including p&p*.

This review first appeared in the March 2016 (232) issue of Gardens Illustrated.

*Bookshop prices include p&p within the UK, unless the order is under the value of £10, in which case there will be a £1.25 postage charge added. For worldwide delivery p&p is calculated per order, please call 01326 569444 for a quote. All books are offered subject to availability. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery.
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