Mossy Beginnings and Diderot’s Chairs

Spring, as chilly as usual, has unfurled itself in Maine. And for me, not a moment too soon. As I have discussed with some of my blogging friends, I seem to be in a funk where nothing I read or watch pleases me. I suppose it must be because of the pandemic, where even someone like me—a homebody who’s safe and secure—feels the weight of the past year.

Whatever the reason, it is such a relief to go outside most afternoons to work in my gardens. Felder Rushing, in his book Maverick Gardeners, has encouraged me to embrace my unconventional approach to gardening. In short, I am letting loose all my wild, creative gardening impulses, and it feels great. For the past year, we have been so confined, and how freeing it is to be unconfined in the garden.

Along those lines—we have begun creating our driveway moss garden because, why not? We don’t really need that end for a driveway anyway.

As we slowly add some gathered local moss, random bits have been seeding themselves in, encouraging us to think we are on the right track. The shape looks a little bit like the state of Maine. Not planned, I assure you.

We will continue to seed in moss as time allows, taking care to water on days when it doesn’t rain. Now, when this moss garden is done, I could just leave it alone in its green loveliness. Or, I could add small garden ornaments to dress it up a little. H-m-m-m, I wonder which way I’ll go…

Readers might remember that about a week ago, we got new chairs for our patio. What a delight to see them next to our glass table. But then we put in the umbrella, even older than the replaced chairs, which are twenty years old.

Clif said, “That old umbrella looks pretty shabby.”

“Sure does,” I replied. “Especially next to those new chairs.”

This put me in mind of Diderot’s dressing gown or bathrobe, as we say here. Diderot, you will recall, was one of the luminaries of the French Enlightenment and is perhaps best known for his contributions to Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts. Most people sensibly refer to it as Encyclopedia.

But Diderot is also known for his red dressing gown, given to him by a friend who had noticed how threadbare Diderot’s old dressing gown was. (I want to note that none of my adult friends have ever seen me in a dressing gown.)

At first, Diderot was pleased with his new dressing gown, but then he noticed how dumpy his study looked in comparison. One thing led to another, and in the end, Diderot spent more money than he should have refurbishing his study so that it would go along with his snazzy new dressing gown.

This story points the way to what happened next on our patio.

That’s right. A new umbrella.

As the comedian Jerry Seinfeld might have asked, “When’s it going to end?”


73 thoughts on “Mossy Beginnings and Diderot’s Chairs”

      1. George Schenk has a good book on moss gardens, too. Meanwhile, I requested my library system order Maverick Gardeners, since it is too new for them to do an interlibrary loan for it. It would be better for the author if I just bought it, but I’m overflowing with books here.

      2. Yup, sometimes we have to make those decisions about books. My strategy is to buy very few and then support indie authors or those who publish with small presses. I figure there are enough people supporting the big authors. πŸ˜‰

      3. You’ll be pleased to hear that I just found out that my suggestion to our library system (a network of small town libraries called Timberland Regional Libraries that is simply amazing) that they order Maverick Gardeners already inspired them to do so, which automatically puts me at number one on the hold list! πŸŽ‰πŸŒŸ

  1. Laurie, I feel the same way. I, too, am an introvert and quite content not to be in crowds, but this pandemic (with all its fears and worries) has weighed heavy on me. I’m so ready for it all to be OVER! We might not be able to go back to what we think of as “normal,” but here’s hoping the “new normal” is bearable. Love your new umbrella — looks great with the table and chairs!

    1. Yes, let’s hope the “new normal” is bearable. What a great way of putting it. Somehow, just writing about feeling blah and hearing from my blogging friends has made me feel better.

  2. i just replaced an outdoor umbrella too – that was the first thing, now the old table is next!

  3. Oh, beautiful job with the moss garden – I’m excited to see how that comes into shape. And that patio is gorgeous! The umbrella was a good decision.

  4. It’s lovely and you will get your money’s worth of enjoyment! Love the story of Diderot, which I had not heard. And thanks for the tip on Maverick Gardeners! It will be my nightstand reading, along with my almost all-time favorite book, “Waterlog.” I have decided I lack the gardener gene, after years of trying, so even more I admire people who can coax a living thing out of dirt, the more creatively the better!

  5. Lady, you are on a roll! πŸ™‚ Our weather includes 30 mph winds which tends to restrict how long I want to be outside, and it has been blowing our furniture all over even though I thought I had them anchored down. Some days I feel like I’m back in Kansas. πŸ™‚

    1. Yesterday it was the same here. Tried to do a little work outside but the wind was just too fierce. Better today. Clif has gone to the transfer statin to fetch compost. You can guess what I’ll be doing this afternoon. πŸ˜‰

  6. It’s good to replace things that wear out — and sometimes to completely discard the old thing. We learned the hard way. We kept old fire extinguishers around after buying new ones, and last week one that was more than four decades old exploded by itself. What a mess! Come to find out, fire extinguishers should be discarded after 12 years!

  7. I figure we deserve a few nice things to reward ourselves for surviving this pandemic and coming this far in life. I think we appreciate things more, too. πŸ™‚

  8. “Letting loose your wild, creative gardening impulses” sounds extremely liberating, Laurie. Good for you. I hope your lush and lovely moss will continue to spread and that other surprises will show up, thanks to Diderot or otherwise.

  9. I love the story of DIderot and the expression of your joy at getting outdoors again. Yes, we wildly creative gardeners will produce wildly messy, yet productive gardens by growing whatever will grow under the circumstances. For me, each plant that survives is worth a celebration. I look forward to seeing your garden grow πŸ™‚

  10. The driveway moss garden is a work of art; and the Diderot story wonderful – I’ll think of that every time I go out to photograph dawn πŸ™‚

  11. I think you could start a new world trend with that moss driveway…it sounds so good. I had to laugh at Diderot’s story …one thing leads to another in our house too.πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘Œ

  12. Keep using your love for the outdoors and gardening to remove your funk it will work. Love seeing your outdoor oasis. Looking good. One word of caution – beware of a complete moss garden in the shape of your state because it may turn into a tourist attraction.

  13. I love the way the pavers on your patio and your umbrella reflect each other’s colors, and I think your moss garden is going to be quite elegant. Personally, I’d let the moss be the star of the show, but it will be fun to see how you decide to develop it.

    I enjoyed the story about Diderot, too. I see that effect in my work from time to time. There’s nothing like producing a beautifully varnished boat in the middle of a dock to bring in other jobs. Boat owners who pass the newly refurbished gem sometimes just can’t stand it; they want theirs to be all shiny and pretty, too.

    1. Still haven’t decided about the moss garden. The first step is to get it to grow in that space. It sounds as though the Diderot effect worked to your advantage. Yay!

  14. I, for one, love your new umbrella and think it was well worth whatever it cost. We have lived here more than 25 years and I have talked about wanting some furniture on the deck for all those years. Talked about it again this week, as the trees are dying and we won’t have shade out there much longer. Husband suggested an umbrella. So maybe we’ll end up with one of those, but sure would also like a table and chairs!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! The patio is our second living room. As soon as the weather is warm enough, we spend as much time out there as possible. Hope you get some furniture for your deck!

  15. A lovely colour that complements your chairs, table and even patio slabs perfectly. I hope it carries on sheltering you from the sun for many years to come.

  16. I saw an article in the New York Times about how we are all “languishing” from this long time of isolation. It was called “Felling blah during the pandemic? It’s called languishing..” I have found that studying my wildflower areas is lifting my spirits. Hope your projects lift yours as well.

    1. I saw that article, too. Definitely have the blahs. But being outside really does help. For me, gardening. For you, studying wildflowers. (My, that has a delightful ring!)

  17. The table, new chairs and umbrella look really nice. I think ornaments in the moss would be nice. I will be anxious to see if you choose to use them or not. I think some frogs would look cute among the moss. πŸ™‚

  18. lol! So true, how one thing leads to another when it comes to replacing the old with the new. I cannot wait to see your moss garden as it grows and thrives.

  19. I so enjoyed the mossy beginnings and the Diderot’s Chairs story!! Umbrella and table look fabulous and looking forward to seeing the new gardening spirit!!πŸ™‚

  20. Your patio is looking mighty fine – thank you, Diderot?
    Your post really brought many chuckles this morning – even in your funk, you are so funny! But I am glad being out in the garden helps …. I love the idea of a moss garden! I am looking forward to seeing this garden grow!

  21. Tending land heals-best wishes in that. I love the moss! I think we are both frugal but it is ok to buy something or :make over” something we love. You all love your patio and drink your tea and enjoy the beauty around you It is just lovely.. May you do so often. x Michele

  22. Regarding shows…I’ve tried this and that since finishing the wonderful Call My Agent and haven’t found any worth sticking with, so far. I do love a good series. There is one coming up on BritBox soon called The Cafe that looks promising. Meanwhile, we are watching some of Moving Forward, a British series of stand alone dramas that are like afternoon specials for grown ups.

    1. I’ve had trouble settling on series, too. Same with books. I chalk it up to pandemic funk. If you like fantasy, you might want to give “Shadow & Bone” a try. Worth watching despite too much hurrying with the story and too little world-building. But it all snaps into place somewhere in the middle. I also watched “Rutherford Falls,” a sitcom that actually has something to say. I liked it, but my son-in-law found it too preachy. I’ll check out “The Cafe.” Always love suggestions!

      1. Adding your two suggestions to my list. We are enjoying Moving On despite it being maybe a little bit pat and maybe a bit preachy. Or anyway, one can definitely see there is a moral to every story. But it is ever so British.

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