Living artworks are the latest way to invite the outside world into your home. Discover how you can incorporate moss in your house through moss bathmats, moss graffiti and more
Introducing moss – nature’s trendiest creation
Moss is all the rage at the moment. And we’re not talking about Kate Moss – we’re referring to the little cryptogamous plant that grows in dense clusters on the surface of the ground.
The shy and retiring plant has never been regarded generally as a horticultural superstar but its unique qualities have placed it firmly centre stage in the latest interior design trend of inviting the plant world to share our living spaces.
Indoor pot plants are ho-hum these days, replaced by the allure of living walls. The blurring of the boundaries between inside and out has been pushed further by the idea of “living” art adorning walls. And it turns out that moss is the perfect plant to paint a growing picture with.
The trend first surfaced in Scandanavia, which has its fair share of the velvety plants, and became popular in Europe, especially in eco-conscious countries like Germany. It’s now being embraced in America and people are getting very creative about how they display groupings of various mosses. The living works combine a remarkable variety of colour, form and texture and of course a very special tactile element.
One particular style that is a current favourite is to plant varieties of moss, air plants and lichen within a wooden frame and use pieces of driftwood to provide a sense of structure to the artwork. The moss artworks are created by planting the moss in decay-free foam that has been cut into a variety of shapes then put together like a jigsaw puzzle within a frame.
Moss is unusual as it doesn’t have a root system so there is no need for soil. As a carpeting plant species it clings to suitable surfaces and there are varieties that particularly like to grow on areas such as walls and rocks so are ideal for a life lived vertically.
The little plants are a mixture of tough and fragile. Most species don’t like to be walked on but are incredibly resilient which is probably why they’re one of the world’s most successful plant species having been around for more than 300 million years. They wither when conditions are dry, or freeze when it is chilly but will bounce back very quickly when rain or warmth returns. They don’t need fertiliser and thrive in the shade and that makes them the perfect contenders to share your living space. All they need is a regular mist of water from a spray bottle and they’ll happily grow into a standout artwork.
Three ways with moss
Moss has played a central role in Japanese garden design for thousands of years and the species is regarded as an essential element in landscaping. Zen Buddhists have seen the contemplation of nature as an aide to enlightenment and it was this idea of using natural forms as a tool for meditation that first sparked the idea of creating living art works for those living in apartments. Temple gardens in Japan use moss as a linking device to unify various garden elements. At Saiho-ji, the famous 1300-year-old temple outside Kyoto, 120 different kinds of moss grow throughout the garden.’
Living bath mat
Going green in the bathroom is very popular with living walls planted with plants that like humid, steamy conditions bringing a touch of the great outdoors inside. Now you can also enjoy a sensory experience of nature when you step out of the shower onto a living bathmat.
The moss bathmats use a combination of island, forest and ball mosses that thrive on moisture and steam and don’t mind getting up close and personal with your feet.
Create your own living graffiti
Forget about using spray cans when tagging, go the eco route and use moss. Why not harness your inner eco warrior when it comes to indulging in a penchant for scribbling on walls?
Here’s a guide to moss graffiti, or you could use the idea to get a touch of green on a dull wall in your courtyard.
You will need:
- One or two clumps of moss (roughly a small handful)
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- A blender
Step 1: Gather your moss (buy it or forage for it). Ideally collect moss from pavement, bricks or cement walkways (moss from the forest/wild won’t work as well and should be left alone). If there is no moss around where you live, the climate probably isn’t right to support growing moss outdoors.
Step 2: Wash the moss to remove as much soil from the roots as possible.
Step 3: Break the moss apart into manageable pieces, then place in a blender.
Step 4: Make your moss milk. Add your buttermilk , water and sugar to the blender and blend until completely smooth (you want to have a paint-like texture. If the mixture is a bit thin, try adding corn syrup until you’ve achieved the right consistency.
Step 5: Transfer mixture from blender to bucket.
Step 6: Use a paintbrush to apply the moss milk to the surface/design where you want your graffiti to grow.
Step 7: Check back weekly to spray with water or apply more moss paint if necessary.
Step 8: Check on your moss graffiti regularly – it may take a while to grow depending on your climate.
Words by: Sarah Beresford. Images via: Pinterest.