Livi Lou is a garden writer and private breeder. She is currently breeding strawberries, developing a garden product, trialing plants and researching the history of heirloom fruit varieties. As a central Ohio native, Livi Lou writes about her garden and her passion for unique varieties of perennials and fruit plants, so that her neighbors can grow a better and more confident garden.


Trees can save your skin—literally!
by Livi Lou - posted 04/29/16

Does the following sound familiar? Plant shade trees to reduce your air conditioning costs in the summer. Wear long sleeves and hats to avoid sun-burn.  (Though, you’ll just burn-up from wearing so many layers in the hot weather). Oh, and today is another awareness day.

Is it national waffle day? No, it is Arbor Day.

It is a wonderful cause to bring awareness to the importance of trees, but it seems like we’ve heard it all before. 

Here’s a different perspective on the importance of planting trees near your home; tree canopies act as sunscreen.  This fact is not typically found on the lists of reasons for planting trees or protecting your skin.

Professor Richard Grant’s research at Purdue University shows that the equivalent of SPF 10 was possible at all latitudes when tree coverage was 90%.

The Davey Tree Expert Company offers a unique service called a Shade Audit and Davey has partnered with the Shade Foundation to remind people that shade trees can do more than help you save money on your electric bill.  They can help save your skin.

In celebration of Arbor Day, Davey is offering a free consultation.  Pile that free consultation on top of the free trees that you can get from the Arbor Day Foundation and you’ve got a recipe for sipping lemonade in the shade all summer long.

You can visit Davey’s website and the Arbor Day Foundation to learn more.


 ~ Thanks for reading!

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Irish and Scottish Moss: Part 2
by Livi Lou - posted 04/29/16

My previous post described my lack of success with planting Irish Moss in Summer 2014.  In my quest to learn more about this plant, I discovered it had a lime-green colored counterpart called Scottish Moss. 

In early Summer 2015, I purchased Irish and Scottish Moss plants from Bluestone Perennials and planted them in my garden.  This time I planted them in a location that would receive mostly morning sun. 

Below is a photo of them arranged in checker pattern in the arch of my garden bed.


As you can see, one of the Scottish Moss plants died.  When viewing photos of lucious Irish and Scottish Moss plantings, such as this one from House Trends, I wondered what I was missing.  Nick McCullough of McCullough's Landscape & Nursery designed the garden in the House Trends photo and he offers his advice.

He explains that Scottish Moss prefers more sun than shade and dislikes being damp.  Dampness causes browning.  In his landscpae designs, he starts with 2 inch plugs and allows the plugs to grow and fill in the space.  While the plants are finicky, they are able to grow in our climate.  Future maintainence requires filling in gaps after harsh winters and possibly re-planting every 4 to 5 years.

If you are intent on growing Irish and Scottish Moss, it would be advisable to hire an expert like McCullough's Landscape & Nursery.  But if you're simply intrigued by these beautiful plants, I would recommend growing them from seed since the odds of success seem slim and sourcing the plants can be difficult.  I plan on saving the seeds from my plants this summer to make available to Livi Lou Garden subscribers.

The below photo shows Irish Moss growing from seed. Although, I cannot find a retail source for Scottish Moss seeds, Swallowtail offers seeds for Irish Moss.



  ~Thanks for reading!

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Irish Moss: an imperfect ideal ground-cover
by Livi Lou - posted 04/15/16

While Sedum sarmentosum is a beautiful and practical ground-cover, my heart still holds a spot for a ground-cover that would be perfect if it weren’t so fickle.   Its texture and color makes it look like grass that never needs to be mowed.  In Spring, tiny white flowers appear. 

What is this ground-cover? Irish Moss!



Irish Moss is not technically a moss.  This month I’ll be sharing my experience trying to grow this beautiful but fickle friend.

I first bought Irish Moss from Oakland Nursery in 2014.  I planted four large pots in my landscape bed.  This location received morning shade and afternoon sun.

It began to turn brown.



I had bought it on a whim.  I knew of Irish Moss, but I didn’t know anything about growing it.  And, quite frankly, its ideal growing conditions are still unclear to me.  

Some sources online read that Irish Moss needs full sun and others say partial shade or full shade.  Other sources say it does not like wet conditions or humidity.  Perhaps our clay soils are too much, but there are locations in the nation with heavier clay and worse humidity.

Once the season progressed from Fall to Winter, the Irish Moss completely turned brown and the squirrels gathered these brown remnants for their nests.

However, in Spring 2015, some of the Irish Moss returned.  Below is a photo of Irish Moss growing under an annual geranium.   It even appeared in the cracks of the brick pathway



Perhaps parts of it will always turn brown and die-back.  Or maybe I simply had it planted in the wrong location. 

I loved the idea of Irish Moss and I was determined to learn more and try again.  

Check back later this month for my Summer 2015 attempt to grow Irish Moss and its counterpart Scottish Moss.



  ~ Thanks for reading!

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