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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Florida Moss Garden

If someone mentioned to you they had a Moss Garden what visions would your mind conjure up? Mine wanders to green-covered boulders and giant tree hammocks in the woods with green-covered floors. The stuff of Renaissance in a foreign land where ruffle-clad maidens stroll with open parasols in the cool of the day.
The pathway just beyond the begonia container strays off from this beautiful scene and leads into the natural woodsy acreage of the Brown's garden. 
Then I remember I'm standing in a Florida garden. Spanish moss is the vision in this state. Our moss is a lovely shade of grey and it is loosely woven resembling a fish net. It swings gently with the breeze and appears brilliant orange as the sunlight lights it on fire. Spanish moss drapes and dangles from limbs of grandfather Live Oak trees, mammoth pines, and even some of my crepe myrtles~ grrr! (that's another story).

Spanish moss is an epiphyte (air plant) in the bromeliad family. The misconception is that the moss lives off the tree it hangs from, when in reality it lives off the nutrients in the air/rain/dew and doesn't take any from its host site. Too much moss in a tree can prevent the tree from receiving enough sunlight and that could pose a potential problem.
Rick and Sydney Brown erected timbers and placed netting on top to create the ceiling for dripping Spanish moss.
The Hillsborough County master gardeners were invited to ramble through Rick and Sydney Brown's remarkable and breathtaking Florida garden last spring (May 2012). Their lovely home is surrounded by woodsy acreage. Around the immediate perimeter of the house they have created plentiful pathways that wander and wind to garden rooms filled with Florida-Friendly, Florida native, and tropical plants. At every turn this garden appeals to all we love about Florida gardening with creative arrangements and appointments in all the right places.

The moss garden creates the perfect environment to enhance the growth of the tropical plants is houses. Dripping moss adds overhead protection from the sun's rays and captures the heat and humidity requirements for tropical plants .
Part of the Moss Garden viewed from the entry pathway sansvisitors.
It's like walking into a small piece of paradise within a paradise. Pause. Breathe. Take in every vista. A botanical garden within the forest of trees.
Tall, mature Australian tree ferns live happily under the cover of their natural protection mixed with friendly neighbors of native saw palmettos, ferns and ti plants.
This water feature is one of many throughout the gardens.
A waterfall feature trickles with the soothing sounds of falling water.
Not your ordinary bottle tree. This one is actually made from a real *tree*. I love it. Bamboo clumps among the glorious saw palmettos adding density and texture. Tropical meets Asian and combines seamlessly.

The Brown's moss garden is definitely one of the most unique creations I've seen in a residential Florida garden. It could be used as a romantic altar for a wedding or a garden tea party for a small group of friends or just a quiet peaceful place for a cup of morning coffee.
The *wall* of Tillandsia was the highlight for me (I've wanted to do this for a very long time). These epiphytes are most intriguing in form, shape and habit. They need good air circulation, high humidity and bright (but not direct) light for best performance. Attached to vertical lines the Brown's have artistically displayed them and provided the optimal environment for their success. Glorious.

What a delight it is to be invited into the garden of fellow plant and garden lovers. No matter the size, the scale, the simplicity or the extravagance, walking through anyone's garden gate is a privilege and a valued treat. Much thanks to the Browns for their open-hearted hospitality and for sharing the beauty of much hard work with the rest of us.

Sydney Park Brown
Associate Professor and Extension Specialist 
Consumer Horticulture
UF/IFAS GCREC-Plant City Campus

Rick Brown is co-owner and the face of Riverview Flower Farms.
If you've ever met Rick you know he is one of the most encouraging and helpful garden growers that also produces beautiful and healthy plants for Florida gardeners. Here is a great article that details the growth history of his business.

Here's a link to my photos from previous visits to Riverview Flower Farms.

**I wrote this article last summer and it was hanging out in my drafts all this time waiting for a few edits. On this coldest winter day so far of our Central Florida season, the Brown's garden gently reminds us why we love to garden in Florida through every season. Stay warm. Meems

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  1. How nice to see a post from you.

    Hope you had nice holidays and I hope 2014 is a good year for you and yours.

    The Browns' moss garden is wonderful! Thanks for the tour.


  2. What an amazing place!
    Thanks for sharing Meems.
    Hope you had a lovely holiday.
    Continued blessings in the new year.

  3. I love moss gardens. I have tried over the years to get moss to grow in a shady area. It is slowly coming along. The net with Spanish Moss dangling is enchanting. I have one of those rick rack plants. It is getting big. I wish I had a place to hang one on the wall like this one is displayed. I too like the tislandias. I haven't had much success with them tho. I hope you get a lot of them and get your wall growing. Thanks for the tour. It is fun to see tropicals when we are having record low temps.

  4. I wish the same for you Lorraine ... a very successful and prosperous 2014. Meems

  5. I hope you had a lovely Christmas season and Happy New Year Daisy!

  6. Lisa,
    I hope you are finding a warm, snug place to be cozy with all that crazy winter weather you're having!Brrr.

  7. Thanks for joining the Maple Hill Hop this week! Hope to see you there again!
    Stay toasty!

  8. Wow! Your story is beautiful. I admit to enjoying our moss house at least 3 times every day as I walk our dogs, drink my coffee or just enjoy what is growing and blooming. It is so easy to maintain. The silver garden netting supporting the moss that we bought at Walmart in 2003 is still the same. I stretch it tight and remove the leaves and branches from the top once a year. I have nail heads on half driven nails sticking up to hold the netting in place.

  9. What a delightful place - thanks for sharing it. I never would have imagined Spanish moss creating such an ephemeral garden element. I wish we could grow Moss here in Central Texas, but that’s not happening!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway