Green & Gold Thumbs: Just Mossing Around

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Graphic by Riel Whittle / The Flat Hat

When a friend invited me to AMP’s Make Your Own Moss Garden event, I was pumped. A chance to make a tiny garden? For free? Sign me up. 

The event was held in Lodge One Tuesday, Oct. 8, and lasted from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, and I was considering skipping class to make it, but luckily AMP had my back, and the event still had an hour to go after my classes were over.  

The Lodge was fairly busy, but the moss garden table wasn’t crowded. The low lighting and chilly weather created the perfect setting to do some mini-gardening.  

I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive; I’ve made a moss garden before with stuff from around my neighborhood and it did not turn out well. It died quickly and made my room smell really funky. Also, there’s something creepy about looking into a pot in your room and seeing pill bugs and spiders. No, thanks. Eventually, I ended up dumping the pot off the porch. I felt really bad for taking the bugs away from their home.  

The moss garden event, however, was more structured than my own haphazard attempt and had the backing of an AMP budget to give it some legitimacy. 

Here’s how to make a moss garden. 

  1. Put a bunch of rocks on a plate. 
  2. Spoon some dirt onto the rocks. 
  3. Push moss into the dirt. 
  4. Add decorations. 

It’s pretty simple.  

AMP provided small mushrooms for decoration, and the dark rocks were aesthetically pleasing. I had to stop myself from taking more than my fair share. Shannon Redifer ’20, one of the organizers, said they had chosen their materials based on pictures of DIY fairy gardens. The moss, rocks, dirt and plates came from Amazon. The ordered moss was supplemented by moss from Redifer’s own yard. That was a little disconcerting, but I didn’t see any bugs, so I felt safe enough to use it.  

“We just dug it up from around my apartment. I’ll probably replant the extra… My yard has a bunch of patches, now,” said Redifer 

Apparently, they had also wanted to buy gnomes, but they had been too expensive. 

Lack of gnomes aside, my moss garden turned out pretty cute. It’s not often that students get to work with their hands, much less get them dirty. I thoroughly enjoyed mashing dirt and moss onto a plate.  

The organizers also enjoyed making moss gardens, and Paige Little’s garden was particularly lovely. 

Mine didn’t turn out quite as nice, but I’m still very happy with it. I’m hoping to keep mine alive for the rest of the semester, so we’ll see how that goes. Redifer suggested a quick spritz or misting every day. She also suggested gently running the faucet onto the garden. Some Googling told me that placing the garden in a glass globe or terrarium will help it retain the humidity it needs. However, my dorm room is plenty humid, so it should flourish uncovered. 

The organizers reassured me that moss is resilient and that there’s no wrong way to care for my garden. I really hope they’re right.