Our moss garden came into being during the first phases of construction of the garden when we put in the pond, stream and the first big rocks back in the late 1990s. I was not allowed to plant anywhere as access was needed for equipment, beds needed to be prepared and all sorts of other reasons that Mark kept listing.
So I sat under our pair of apple trees pulling the grass — by hand — out of the moss that was growing there. Eventually we had a large velvet garden. But over the years, as we've planted every inch of our half acre, I've realized the moss garden is very high-maintenance. Anything left resting or rotting on the moss will harm it as will all the creatures who endlessly dig in it.
The loss of the apple tree (in the foreground above) last year and the need to create holding beds (below) for the plants in the way of the driveway project forced us to make a decision: The moss garden was wonderful while it lasted but it's time to move on.
After all the plants that were pulled out for the driveway got replanted at the end of the summer, we spread the soil from the beds over the moss and topped it with mulch. I've spent the intervening months mulling over how to redesign this area in a way that fits in with the rest of the garden and is ideally a bit lower in maintenance.
Since the moss garden is located opposite the Tea House, we decided it makes sense to add seating there since it would let us look across the width of the pond to the Tea House at the top of the stream. Therefore, Mark is going to build a covered waiting bench similar to those you see in Japanese gardens (bottom photo). A way stop on the approach to the Tea House.
It will have three enclosed sides and a roof overhead. The bench itself will be long enough so either one of us can stretch out fully and take a nap. The back side of the structure will have panels that can be opened to let the breeze blow through. But the roof will protect us from rain — and falling apples. Those apple bombs put paid to the beautiful hammock we hung between the two apple trees in the early years!
The new structure will be about 4 feet deep and 8 feet long; height undetermined. But that gives me a size and shape that doesn't need to be planted, and nicely breaks up the semi-circular moss garden into sections that can be planted as we move forward. But what to put here obviously is the question.
I unexpectedly found the answer in Roy Diblik's book "The Know Maintenance Garden." He has a number of designs for shady areas based on matrix plantings using limited species. I was attracted to one that had three types of sedges (Carex) and two kinds of ferns. He suggested Geraniums as another plant that might be added to the mix. Mark told me to make a drawing of my idea and so I am. Stay tuned.
A covered waiting bench similar to what Mark is going to build. I believe this one is in the Portland Japanese garden.