Mossy Rock (part one)

Some strange ideas run through my mind and I admit this is among the strangest. Last year I had to replace a section of fence in our garden and one fence post stump had an enormous chunk of concrete foundation. I don’t know why but upturned, I quite liked the shape – it almost looked natural – so I thought I’d keep it and try growing things on it, like Sempervivums. Here it is in all its glory a year later:

“What is THAT?!” cried one of our friends last summer. I struggled to explain.

Beautiful, huh? Not much has changed (massive understatement!) but it’s become a bit of a fascination to me. I’ve decided to name it Mossy Rock because it’s starting to attract moss growing on it. If you look closely you’ll see a little patch above the white pebble on the left. On closer inspection, today I could see fragments of moss starting to grow all over it.

The white pebbles I have found in our garden soil over the years. I don’t know where they came from originally but they’re really smooth so I kept them. They’re on Mossy Rock because I was using them to keep the Sempervivums in place until their roots gripped something.

Now, I noticed over the last twelve months that the Sempervivums haven’t grown as I had hoped. There are actually two patches of them. One on the right over the hole left by the fence post which I stuffed with some compost, this patch was doing well until bloomin’ Cedric Squirrel dug them this week but some are still attached. The second patch to the left of these is barely clinging on for dear life, this is because the rock simply had too little growing media on it for them to grow successfully, not that they need much.

So comes my obsession with the moss. Moss is one of the first forms of life to grip onto blank rock faces forming the growing media that other plants eventually root into. I could have tried to stick bits of compost or soil to Mossy Rock but overtime the moss is going to do this job for me naturally, which is far more interesting. Mossy Rock therefore has become a symbol for the evolution of life on earth on our patio, like a mini planet just sitting there next to the pond.

Our garden, especially in winter, is fairly shadey and damp giving moss great conditions to grow, which I like. In the summer I might have to give Mossy Rock a spray of water now and then, but part of the interest here is seeing what will grow naturally on this little piece of untouched rock in our garden in central London… if anything at all.

Stay tuned folks, I’ll keep you updated on the adventures of Mossy Rock – an adventure less exciting than watching paint dry. I bet you can’t wait! Having said that, I expect that in a month or two Mossy Rock will be quite mossy and green, which will give the Sempervivums a second chance to grow properly in summer, exciting right? *awkward silence*

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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3 thoughts on “Mossy Rock (part one)

  1. Forget houseplants, I think that rockeries are long over-due a resurgence in popularity! More mossy rock I say……..

  2. Hah, I’ve just spent a weekend desperately clawing moss off of the stone surround of flowerbeds at our new house (helped by our golden retriever puppy who appears fascinated by the stuff). It hadn’t occurred to me that I could keep it but actually thinking about it, a green border would mean less formal lines… I might use that as an excuse for laziness in the future!

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