Guest reviewer Kevin Tipple is back with his review of a book on terrarium gardening. Check out his blog Kevin's Corner for more book reviews and book news, as well as links to topics of interest.
Moss isn’t just found deep in the mountains in some cool, damp place. It can appear on the side of a brick wall, the edges of pavement, and many other places. Miniature Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens by Megumi Oshima and Hideshi Kimura gives the reader the necessary knowledge to recreate the outdoors inside by way of container gardening.
“Chapter 1: An Introduction to Moss” begins on page 10 and gives the basics of moss. Classified as “Musci” nearly all of the 20,000 species or varieties are perennial and evergreen. They need sunlight to survive and propagate by releasing spores on the wind. There are three types of Moss which are the Musci, Hepaticae and Anthocerotae. How the leaves and stems grow are the primary distinguishing aspects of each type.
“Chapter 2: Observation, Discovery, and Gathering” begins on page 17 and is all about tracking down moss. After getting permission from the property owners and ascertaining the living conditions of the moss you will be gathering, there are good ways to gather the moss living outside. How to do it and the gear you need is explained here.
You have identified the moss, gathered the moss (and maybe a rolling stone or two) and have brought green treasure home. In “Chapter 3: Care and Maintenance” you are taught what to do and just as importantly what not to do to maintain your moss. Along with some more information on how to select moss whether you are buying at a store or getting it from your yard, neighborhood, etc., maintenance is the major focus of this chapter. There are a lot of tips on the simple items you will need to maintain your moss as well as actual care of the moss regarding fertilizer, the proper way to water and or misting the moss, placement on your patio or inside the home, and diagnosing issues as they arise. Also included in this section is information on how to grow more moss by way of seeds, cuttings, and “stretching” it out on a soil bed.
You have your moss, it is thriving, and things are going well. Of course, you need to show of your moss. Starting on page 41 with “Chapter 4: Making and Displaying Moss Creations” various ways of doing so after you work through a flowchart that helps you pick out the right type of moss for your personality and skill level. While the chart on pages 42-43 is interesting and helpful, it seems a bit late in the book to be presented here.
Though the location here does tie into the following pages. Each depicted moss fits one of 4 types in ranges from A to D. Once you know the type of moss that is right for your personality and skill level, then there are pages that reference that type of moss in a container as well as the other choices related to that particular type of moss. Also included here is an explanations of the necessary items needed for moss gardening, soil types, and more regarding what you do with various types of moss as well as more planting and care tips.
“Chapter 5: Finding Moss in Cities and Mountains” begins on page 85 and gives far more detail on the finding and harvesting of moss than what was covered at the beginning of the book. These pages are informative and helpful and would have been better suited closer to the front of the book. Much of the pictures in this section come from Japan and not only are close up pictures of moss, but also scenic shots of various types depicting manmade structures in their local natural environments. Cultural landmarks are referenced with details pictures and illustrating the moss found in the area.
“Chapter 6: Moss Identification Guide” begins on page 107 and details some of the moss types you may encounter outside in your local area. This is done over several pages and would also have better served readers if placed earlier in the book. The conditions that each moss type needs to thrive in the outdoors is also presented here as is info on how to recognize it and use in your home setting. A “glossary of moss terms” on pages 116-117 follows as does afterword sections from each author and additional close up pictures of various staged moss settings.
As in any book from Tuttle Publishing, there are plenty of pictures and textual information. The pictures are always colorful and the textual information is clear and a lot of depth. There is a paragraph textual style immersed with small bullet points areas containing additional useful information.
While all the information is useful, the placement and flow of the book has issues as noted. The way things are organized in the chapters as well as the placement of the chapters themselves does not work to resent the information well for the reader. Miniature Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens by Megumi Oshima and Hideshi Kimura is an interesting and informative book, it should have been laid out better for readers. This is especially true for the intended reader market of those new to the world of gardening with moss.
Miniature Moss Gardens: Create Your Own Japanese Container Gardens
Megumi Oshima and Hideshi Kimura
Hardback (also available in digital format)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My review copy came from the Kleberg-Rylie Branch.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019