An interview with Annette, a passionate explorer of tiny mosses.
How did your love for mosses start?
Annette: "My love for mosses & liverworts developed parallel to the interest for plants in general. As a girl I only enjoyed the furry, plushy looks and didn't get any deeper into the matter. Somehow it got a bit out of my focus over the time. To be honest, it rose again with the approach to digital photography. I quickly decided that roses, pansies & violets are for other people, and that the not so spectacular, sometimes hidden gems of mosses attracted me much more. But of course I like ferns, fungi and lichens, too."
"About mosses I like, among other reasons, that one doesn't have to wait for summer, for good weather or any season to watch, to collect, to determine or to take pictures of mosses. It's just the opposite: when everything is sleeping deeply in winter, sometimes the lush green of mosses is the only green you see outdoors."
"Mosses are some of the most enduring, persistent, unaltered plants on earth. The word "cryptogram" says it all: There's always something special, hidden, clandestine and even magical about them. (Of course I know it refers to their way of reproducing.)
In the meantime I got used to being looked at like acting pretty odd, in fact I'm a bit proud of it."
What is your favorite type of moss right now?
Annette: "My all time favorite is peat moss, Sphagnum. Most of my life I lived in areas with lime and calcareous soil and hard water. So peat moss is a very special find and always connected to being away from home, on journeys and holidays. Besides I like the sight and mystic atmosphere of moors, marshes and fens. Just the swamp thing!"
What tips can you give to beginning moss explorers?
Annette: "Keep your eyes wide open, compare and collect, arm yourself with a 10 or 20 x magnifying lens, don't get scared by the similarities.
Books and internet can help, but never replace a keen eye, attention, mindfulness and love for mosses.
Don't get mad at other people never understanding you always having wet knees or standing for 10 minutes with your nose close to a tree no one sees anything interesting about ..."
Get in touch with people from all over the world. Use FB and Twitter, instagram, flickr or whatever social network suits your intentions best. They offer great opportunities of connecting to nice and helpful moss lovers and adepts. There is always someone to learn from.
A microscope is not necessary at the beginning, but it's the entrance to a real new world of beauty and understanding. And: never give up in the identification of species!
Thank you for the inspiring interview Annette!
If you want to see more of the mosses that Annette discovered, check out her blog.