Today's blog entry may be surprising to anyone who lives in an area where plentiful rainfall occurs during summer, but the fact that I care about a pad of green moss will not be surprising to anyone living and gardening in Kansas and other arid Western states.
I've always cared about moss. I've long been fascinated by the "primitive" botany of these spore-producing survivors whose ancestors first colonized land, evolving millions of years before flowering plants came along. There was a period in my teens when I could identify most of the common mosses of the Indiana woods I grew up in and tell you what their presence meant for soil acidity and moisture. That knowledge has sadly been crowded out of my brain over the years by other trivia, but my fascination for the persistence and presence of moss remains.
I was astonished to see this growth this summer, documenting this scene in October in my garden on my camera simply because moss is unheard of in this exposed, predominantly clay area and practically impossible in July and August, yet it was there all summer. This spot is in full sun right along the edge of my vegetable garden, and yet this moss thrived here, grew all summer long, and made it clear up until the first freeze. If you look closely, you can see the low electric fence wire running across the picture; the very fence that I depend on to keep rabbits, deer, and other critters out of the vegetables, and the grass/hay mulch at the top of the picture that I use to cover the garden.
Normally, I might find a little moss along the north edge of the limestone blocks that line some of my garden beds, perhaps occasionally in May or June when it warms and we have enough moisture to support it, but even in those sun-protected areas the moss is temporary, springing up in hours and drying and dying just as fast. I haven't checked recently, but the 50% additional annual rainfall we've seen from January 2019 has held steady and we are going to finish the year with a near record rainfall for this region. I guess that's what it really takes to grow moss.
Most surprising to me, however, is that after all the moisture I expected to have a bumper crop of "fairy ring" mushrooms this year. I've blogged previously about this, only seeing the two pictured in the previous post and the singular warty puffball (above left) I discovered in a dry path halfway up the slope from the garden to the house on August 31st. That's it, three mushrooms in an entire wet year. Many are God's mysteries created to vex mortal beings.