Moss Gardens: Munch and Learn Recap

Gardens come in all varieties from cutting gardens to woodland gardens and even rock gardens and moss gardens.  Celia Chastain and Suzy Askew teamed up to bring the Dixon’s Munch and Learn guests a little taste of all of the above, with a special focus on moss. Celia started the program with her personal connection to the Dixon moss garden. Celia worked for the Dixon then took a hiatus before happily returned to us. Upon her return the moss garden was a mulch garden. She decided to revive it, so she went to work clearing mulch and testing the soil. The soil was very high in copper, which is bad for moss, so she focused on the soil chemistry. Moss likes a pH level of about 6, so she added calcium in the form of bone meal to extract the copper. If your ph is too high, Sulphur can be used to reduce the pH level. Once the soil chemistry was correct, she made sure it was firmly packed and then scraped some moss off a rock.  Next, she put the moss in a blender with buttermilk, fish emulsion and water before pouring it onto the soil. Today, there is a beautiful Japanese garden, just south of the formal garden, that is lush and mossy. It is the perfect spot for lunch or just relaxing.   

After Celia talked about the Dixon moss garden, Suzy Askew gave Munch and Learn goers a bit of history on Asian gardens. She even had a printed timeline of garden history that was so big it had to be laid in sections on the floor. She also had the original garden plans by Hugo Dixon and his sister, Hope Crutchfield, taped on some of the windows of the Hughes Pavilion.   

Suzy pointed out that many garden history books are Western-centric, and do not show examples of Asian gardens. This is because the East was so far removed from Western society for so long. Americans began to be exposed to Asian gardens during world’s fairs, which began in the 1800’s.  Sometimes even people from Asian countries would live in houses constructed within their exhibitions to care for these gardens. Some people liked what they saw and wanted to emulate these little Eastern paradises. So, both civic and private Asian gardens began to be established here in the States.   

We are very lucky to have all of the beautiful gardens that make our 17 acres one of the most beautiful spots in the city, but we’re especially happy that our moss is back! 

At next week's Munch and Learn we will be Alfresco Dining with an Asian Influence!

- Linley Schmidt, Public Programs Coordinator

Posted by Chantal Drake at 10:49 AM
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