The primitive Mosses were almost certainly amongst the first plants to colonise the Earth and are known to have existed at least 470 million years ago. Today, perhaps as many as 20,000 species occur mainly in the temperate regions of the world, where they grow in damp, shady places, covering the soil, rocks, cliffs, dead wood, as well as festooning tree trunks and branches. The decaying remains of certain species of Sphagnum moss form peat which is still used on a large scale in certain parts of the world, particularly Western Europe, as a fuel and for Horticultural purposes. In the past moss was used in N America for medicinally and was important as an insulator in buildings. Today it is still used widely in the making of wreaths and in Floriculture generally.
As regards cultivation in gardens, it is mainly the Japanese who have been creating beautiful moss gardens for several centuries and there are many famous examples to be seen in Japan. They are considered to bring a unique sense of peace, calm and stillness to the garden. Moss lawns are popular in areas with a suitable climate, such as the Pacific coast of the USA. Moss roofs and walls are now being used in some cities because of their ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide.
A more recent innovation in Japan has been the cultivation of mosses in terrariums and other glass containers, as well as moss balls, thus bringing the virtues of moss gardening into the smallest home. By means of this superbly illustrated book, the author, an acknowledged authority on the subject, describes which species to use, shows the techniques necessary to create many different designs using various plant combinations and explains how to maintain them successfully to ensure a long life.
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