Field of Science

Mosses in a Magazine

An article came out this month in the New Life Journal about gardening with mosses. This article was written by of Mountain Moss in North Carolina.

The article has some good moss biology tucked among the gardening tips. She discusses the fact that mosses do not have roots and instead have rhizoids to attach them to the soil. Also she touches on the fact that mosses do not have xylem cells to move water inside their plant body.

Another interesting tidbit that she shares is that mosses can even be seen in the 5000 year old gardens in Kyoto, Japan. I linked to the article that she cited, because I was interested to see if they were talking about the moss temple (Saiho-ji). I visited this temple while I was in Japan this past summer and I was excited to hear what they had to say about it. (Click here for a link to my post about the Saiho-ji temple in Kyoto.)

I was surprised to discover that the Smithsonian Magazine article that she cited did not mention the Saiho-ji temple. Instead it focused on the Ryoan-ji temple (the temple of the peaceful dragon). The focal point of this temple is a zen rock garden that has a number of rocks and mosses surrounded by raked stones.

This is one of the temples in Kyoto that I visited in addition to the Saiho-ji temple. There were not nearly as many mosses as the moss temple, but being that it was a zen aesthetic, less is more. The zen rock garden was very peaceful looking place and my photos capture its true essence.

However being there was quite a different exprience. All the visitiors to the garden sit on a large wooden porch overlooking the area shown here in the photos. You might think that everyone would be sitting quietly meditating as they stare at the stones. If that is what you imagined then you would be wrong. It is more like 40 foreigners sitting on the porch chatting loudly, some of them talking on their cell phones, while the zen stones stare back in dismay.

I was really surprised that they didn't have some sort of talking rules to encourage a meditative atmosphere. Oh well, I will just have to enjoy the meditative experience from my silent photos. It's a little sad that they are better than the actual experience, but I am glad to have gone and given it a try.

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