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Here are cool mosses deep, And thro' the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.
"The Lotus Eaters," Choric Song, Part 1
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Poets Have Described Moss As being "cool and green" and "ancient." Even so, most people take mosses for granted. To some, mosses are merely pests of lawns, indicators of poor drainage and excessive soil acidity. To others, mosses are but a single unimportant element, contributing to the overall effect of a garden. Yet there are those who hold mosses in high horticultural esteem. The Japanese, for instance, painstakingly cultivate mosses in their simplistic, elegant gardens, drawing from a vast number of species.
For my own part, I always associate mosses with the image of a path, perhaps because of the steppingstone track that once meandered along a shaded, mossy section of my grandmother's yard. As a child, I liked to hop from stone to stone on this path and imagine that it led to an enchanted castle or a secluded walled …