A Mossy Holiday

A two week holiday has given me the chance to start exploring and recording the mosses and liverworts in my local area. Equipped with a x 10 hand lens and the FSC Field Guides to common species in woodlands and gardens, backed up by the British Bryological Society’s Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland a Field Guide, I have made some interesting discoveries and managed to identify more bryophytes than hoped.

I started with my garden and firstly discovered that the moss which is everywhere is Rough-stalked feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum) in various stages of growth. It came as no little surprise that Springy turf-moss (Rhytiadelphus squarrosus) is in my lawn. I was excited to find the unmistakable Big-shaggy-moss (Rhytiadelphus triquestrus) on a stony area. The fourth moss, growing in a damp area beneath the shed (which is not on the FSC Field Guides, but I have identified from the key in the BBS Field Guide by its capsules) is Clustered feather-moss (Rhynchostegium confertum).

In Greencroft Valley the most abundant species of moss is Common feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga). My guess is the acrocarpous moss covering two Elders and seen on the trunks of other trees may be Common smoothcap (Atricham undulatum).

Beside the brook I spotted Common pocket-moss (Fissidens taxifolius) alongside some fascinating plants I cannot name.

I then decided to go to Castle Hill as some of the woodland on its banks is ancient. By the steps up the hill from Well Field, past where St Mary’s Well once was, I found more Common pocket-moss, and Cypress-leaved plait-moss (Hypnum cuppreseforme) on a fallen branch.

On the wall on Church Avenue and on the old stone cross halfway down was the evocatively named Grey-cushioned grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata). It is named after a German scientist called Johann Friedrich Carl Grimm yet, to me, the name ‘grimmia’ is particularly evocative of this unmistakable mossy creature. By this point I had started getting to grips with taking photos through my hand lens.

On a stone on the side of Church Avenue was this unidentified acrocarpous moss.

In Church Wood the most abundant moss was Common feather-moss (here with capsules present).

Another unidentified moss was found on the pathway on the fallen branch of a tree.

Although I didn’t identify as many different mosses as I had hoped to in Church Wood it was a treat to find Great scented liverwort (Conocephalum conicum) on a damp bank.

So far I have been delighted to discover so many mosses within walking distance of my home in a couple of days. I am planning to continue to explore and record the bryophytes of my local area and on the Manchester Mosslands in the New Year.

How I love

the sound of the rain
dripping from the gutters
gurgling down the drains
everything that stood
still moving again

How I love

the healing hand of Nodens
reaching out to touch
sooth replenish

these thirsty flowers
that grow in my garden

How I love

this sense of relief that
we are not quite cursed –

the gods still listen to
our prayers respond

to offerings of dreams

How I love

the Rain of Nodens
hope you will visit again
you are welcome here
every day to keep us green
and at night the gates
of dream are always open

The Best Defence

“Laughter is the best defence against madness,”
from somewhere in my garden
my god decries.

The hyacinths
are at their most beautiful –
white, pink, red, blue, and I cannot tell
if they are laughing at us or with us.

The full moon has burst her sides
(reminding me of lysis – the bursting
of cell walls, expulsion and release
of viral progeny like a sneeze).

“This crisis is no longer a laughing matter
with its potential to bring a tear to our eyes,”

I reply whilst acknowledging it’s laughable
how a strand of RNA in a protein jacket
can cause such mayhem worldwide…

… panic buying… shelves depleted
of curly strands of pasta and the virulent
internet replicating and replicating our demise…

“Stand your ground in this garden and breathe
the fresh spring air, laugh well, laugh deep,”

my god’s voice rises from Annwn grounds me.

“I can save none from the tragedy and sadness
in which my realm and your realm are steeped but
laughter is the best defence against madness.”