Garden Photo of the Day

Stephanie’s Moss Garden

Flowers upstaged by a lush green moss carpet

My name is Stephanie Weisser. I live in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, Zone 6b. My husband, Michael, and I have been gardening for almost 40 years. The plants are my purview, and Michael builds the stone paths and walls and creates the layout.

I recently retired and have more time to focus on my garden, which brings me great joy and occasional frustration.

Michael shot these lovely photos, showing early spring in our garden.

We installed a deer fence a year or so ago, and it was worth every penny. I would have very little garden without it.

We’ve been working on various parts of the landscape, but it’s our moss garden that gets the oohs and ahs. It’s about 30 feet by 90 feet and has a rootery and rock garden, plus little runoff areas etched into the moss.

parrot tulipA parrot tulip with tiny sedum in the background.

Lysimachia (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 3–9), lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina, Zones 4–10), and Aucuba japonica in the back. Behind the bed is our moss garden.

shade bedA close-up of the moss garden and shade bed that abuts the fence. There’s an assortment of shade perennials, including Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’, Zones 3–8), bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, Zones 3–9), and the hostas and Japanese painted fern (Athyrium japonicum var. pictum, Zones 3–8) that are just starting to emerge. The spot of red is a species tulip.

moss gardenMore moss and a toad lily (Tricyrtis), with baby bleeding heart popping up in the moss.

bog gardenA newly developing bog garden. Chinese astilbe ‘Milk and Honey’ (Astilbe chinensis ‘Milk and Honey’, Zones 4–9), Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ (Zones 4–9), and ‘Crested Surf’ painted fern. All were nipped by the recent spring frost. Behind the trunks of the viburnum are wild purple irises.

bug hotelA bug hotel and a stone path both built by my husband. Shade plants all around are just beginning to emerge.

ground coversColumbine (Aquilegia hybrid, Zones 3–9), sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum, Zones 4–8), a frost-nipped astilbe, lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis, Zones 3–8), and a native ground cover with little yellow flowers, possibly Chrysogonum virginianum.

allium budAn allium in front of Phlox subulata (Zones 3–9) and a lovely mounded grass, the name of which we no longer know.

This bed is next to the road, and it’s always surprising that anything survives. It’s spring, so everything looks great. There are Bagatelle barberry shrubs (Berberis thunbergii ‘Bagatelle’, Zones 4–8), Japanese holly (Ilex crenata, Zones 5–8), Penstemon ‘Husker ‘Red (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Zones 3–8), Liatris spicata (Zones 3–9), and Japanese anemones (Anemone × hybrida, Zones 4–8). I thin the anemones out all summer or they take over. In the center is another wall with stones from the creek bed behind our house.


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View Comments


  1. PattyLouise 05/14/2020

    Wow your gardens are lovely! Love the idea of moss. I read a story many years ago of a moss garden in Japan that has a man that weeds the moss with tweezers - every day! Love the photo with the lambs ears! Happy retirement!

  2. raleighgardener 05/14/2020

    Your garden is so lovely! Thank you for sharing! I'm envious of your fence to keep the deer out. I have let a large shady area under a huge maple tree by the street go to moss over the last few years, and I much prefer the moss to the former grass that didn't do well there.

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      Hi Patty,
      Thank you. It’s retirement coupled with isolation, unfortunately.
      Yes, moss requires intensive weeding in the beginning, but later a weekly maintenance is sufficient.

    2. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      The deer fence is the best. And if you find moss growing, weed out the grass and it will flourish.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 05/14/2020

    What a great garden. I love the different combinations of plants that you have assembled. I enjoy mosses in nature and had never thought of cultivating them in the garden.

  4. [email protected] 05/14/2020

    Thank you. I choose my plants by what will grow, what works aesthetically but also what’s on sale, especially since I continue to expand my beds.

  5. user-783091 05/14/2020

    Very attractive shade garden! I'm curious, how do clear fallen leaves from the mossy areas?

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      Thank you. We use a blower. Clears them right off.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/14/2020

    Love that tulip!

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      Those parrot tulips are crazy,

  7. Sunshine111 05/14/2020

    I loved seeing the photos of your garden this morning. It reminded me of a Garden that I visited in the Bar Harbor area of Maine a few years back. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller garden. It was designed by Beatrix Farrand and had a Very nice Moss garden section outside of the walls of the garden itself that was absolutely stunning. Seeing your lovely photos this morning reminded me of that lovely memory. Thank you

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      I’ll make a note to visit there. I love visiting gardens.

  8. btucker9675 05/14/2020

    You and your husband have created a gem - absolutely gorgeous and the moss garden is beautiful.

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      Thank you very much.

  9. sheila_schultz 05/14/2020

    Your garden beds are delicate in their richness of texture and subtle color. They are quite beautiful and very peaceful to observe, even through photos. Simply lovely.

    1. [email protected] 05/14/2020

      That’s very kind of you to say. We derive a great deal of pleasure from the garden.

  10. User avater
    simplesue 05/14/2020

    Gorgeous moss garden you and your husband have created!
    I've really enjoyed looking at your garden photos!

  11. davlinkun 05/14/2020

    Very interesting and for many shady and rooted areas, moss gardens are so intriguing, thank you.

  12. User avater
    bdowen 05/16/2020

    Lovely! I'm smiling as I imagine walking very gently through the moss garden and enjoying that lush carpet of greens under my feet.

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