Field of Science

New Moss Gardening Book

A new book about moss gardening is out! The Secret Lives of Mosses: A Comprehensive Guide for Gardeners by Stephanie Stuber. The book is available in a variety of digital formats and in paperback. Stephanie recently finished her Master's degree in Public Garden Leadership at Cornell University and is now working as a Curatorial Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts.

Overall I think that is is a good book for people interested in integrating mosses into their home garden and learning more about moss biology. She covers the science, culturing, identification, curation, and interpretation of mosses. Stephanie does a nice job introducing readers to the life cycle and a variety of features that are useful for moss identification. Her habit images are vibrant and helpful, however, the photos of microscopic features are not the best quality and the details are difficult to see. The book includes descriptions of 12 common taxa with pronunciations for each genus, which is nice for folks new to moss scientific names. In the section on culturing, Stephanie highlights a variety of ecological components to think about when planting mosses, including light, moisture, and substrate, as well as more instructional topics such as transplanting, companion plants, and maintenance. The sections on curation and interpretation are more helpful for those working at a public garden rather than the at-home gardener, but it is a nice glimpse behind the scenes of a working botanical garden.

It is apparent that Stephanie is well read and knowledgeable about mosses, but I wish that the text would have included more citations to point the reader to the books she read to gain this expertise. She does cite a study that "...documented that beds of moss over soil provide favorable condition(s) for tree growth in the forest and that the removal of them adversely affects the succession of trees (Thieret 1956)." My general knowledge also is that mosses can serve as a moist nursery for seed germination, but having a scientific study that actually demonstrates and supports this idea is even better. I had not heard of Thieret before and will definitely check out his paper to see the details of the study.

A word of caution, the digital editions of this book are reader program specific. I bought a PDF of the book and missed the note that it will only open in the program Adobe Digital Editions. This file will not open in either Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat Professional. I know that digital formats for books are becoming more and more common, but I am suspect of the longevity of files that only open in one specialized program. I plan on studying mosses for a long time and I would like to be able to read and refer to Stephanie's book for the next 50 years. I am pretty sure that computers will continue to be able to access regular PDF files, but will this specific Adobe Digital Edition program still be around so that I can open up this program-specific file? I would have really liked the option to purchase a regular PDF so that the longevity of my access would be more likely. Maybe I will just buy the paperbook version too. I am pretty sure I will still be able to open and read a hard copy years into the future. 


  1. You're right to be looking ahead to the day you have trouble accessing the file you purchased. Check Adobe Digital Editions to see if it will let you save a text (or regular pdf) version of the file. The title of the program "Adobe Digital Editions" sounds like it is strictly for reading purchased files so I expect it will not let you save or export the file in any other form, but it's worth checking.

  2. The book includes descriptions of 12 common taxa with pronunciations for each genus, which is nice for folks new to moss scientific names. click here

  3. These antique garden tools were used to harvest hay by hand. Can you imagine what that would do to your back? However, the hay was necessary, because it became feed for cattle and horses. Another cool trick they used to do with hay was to lay a blanket of it between the rows of their now


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