Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Moss, Some Autumn light

It seems that everywhere I go there is moss flourishing, even on the grimy streets in Chinatown. It is growing everywhere but on my patio. The light was heartbreakingly beautiful on Tuesday, and I decided to go to Central Park and check out the moss there.

Of course it was fabulous, cascading over rocks.

or gracing them with delicate feathers.

mixing with lichen.

Some of the rocks sparkled with mica, which is really hard to photograph.

This was as close as I could get.

I checked in on the elm trees since I missed their fall foliage last year.

I was a little early this time. Maybe elm trees have a very short period of yellow leaves.

There was another black squirrel.

I also saw a wild guinea pig, no doubt liberated from a nearby household. It was rather large and looked pretty content with its life. Before I could photograph it, a group of school children clattered by and the guinea pig wisely vanished into the underbrush. The park was swarming with children, everyone trying to enjoy one of the last beautiful days of the year.

When I was in the ramble, I found this bush with ivory pale autumn leaves.

I am entranced with its leaves and colors, but I was unable to identify it.

If anyone knows what it is, please let me know in the comments. I would love a bush like that in my garden.

This sassafras tree has my favorite tones of red and green.

Outside the park, there was a tree with its roots growing around the paving stones.

It almost looked as if the roots were upending the stones and tossing them around.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Troubles with Moss

I posted this picture first because the moss pictures are not the most dynamic. This parking garage reminds me of what New York used to look like before it became so much luxury housing and chain stores.  It is cool, understated with a kind of blue collar elegance.

I realized that part of my creative block has come from my difficulties growing moss. I know it is possible. Here is a thin strip of moss that appeared spontaneously under the mat on our concrete walk.

I planted some fancy Japanese moss seeds (sporangia?) in shallow pots a few weeks ago. We have been getting plenty of rain and they are sitting on the damp patio.

Nothing is growing though. Some moss growers on the web advise patience. They all seem to live in Seattle.

The moss I transplanted back in August (scroll all the way down) suffered a feline assault when the cats decided to excavate a corner of the planter and buried most of the moss.

Besides a few scrappy survivors, the rest was done in. My dreams of painting anarchy signs in moss are becoming wispier. Still I suppose I have to keep trying.

The other day, I went out to gather some moss and make a slurry. I found out that powdered milk is supposed to be a very good moss medium. Hunting for moss left me with many questions. Sometimes there will be a rich patch of moss and nearby, nothing. It does seem to be quite temperamental, although nyc moss seems to have a higher tolerance for debris than the more delicate hothouse mosses. I found all kinds of things in the moss; threads, hair, bits of glass, fur. I gave it all a vigorous washing when I got it home.

Near some of the moss, this odd little plant was growing. It reminded me of lichen although it had leaves. It was very flat and mixed with the moss.

In other news, the amaranth that I chose to symbolize autumn has grown in wild directions and tangled up in the netting from the pea plants like a band of drunken sailors. Maybe that is simply what amaranth does.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I have been feeling a bit dispersed since the last round of plant art. I am having a hard time deciding what I should be working on. The weather has not been helpful, brief moments of glorious sunlight punctuate long stretches of cloudy dark. I went to the Botanic Garden hoping that being around a little plant life would inspire. By the time I got there, the sun had once again disappeared. Everything seemed a bit wistful, although the BBG's plants are much lusher than mine.

I wandered over to the water plants, I thought the lotuses would be good in a spiritual sort of way.

I was under the impression that the lotus represented rebirth, the flower rising from the water, its petals falling away to reveal the rizome. Admittedly, it seems more 'circle of life' than 'phoenix bursting from the ashes'.

When I got back to the internet, I discovered that the lotus symbolizes sexual purity. The flower rises from the mud but remains white.

It turns out all those Hindu gods are sitting on lotuses because they are so pure. Well that was disappointing.

At least the lotuses are pretty and all the water is soothing. But I am still feeling restless.