Vancouver, a beautiful city covered in moss

I went for a whirlwind weekend to Vancouver and fell in love with it so much I didn't want to leave. It was raining (a.k.a. normal weather there) when I arrived in YVR Airport, but as soon as I walked outside, I could immediately feel a difference in temperature from back home where it was snowing and 29 degrees. Vancouver had already started to spoil me with its balmy, temperate climate of 50 degrees... time to peel off some layers. As soon as we hit downtown, I knew I'd be happy here. From the boutique shops with their funky window displays to the hipster cafes, this was a city destined for fun and hopefully some good flower spying. The first night we checked out some places on Robeson St. (cool shopping district). It has a Euro edge, or shall I say, Asian, in other words total I.F.S. friendly. After stopping for a drink on the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel's rotating bar, I was done-- this place had completely won me over. If you ever visit, that place is a must-go-to, the view is panoramically spectacular, and you won't get dizzy unless you order too many Cloud 9's.

Well I could go on and on about the food and nightlife, but this is a flower blog after all, so let me get down to the scenery. It was November which is fall for them as well, so I did not notice much color in the city plantings or gardens. BUT there was a whole lotta green going on, mainly in the form of moss. While I spotted a few green living roofs with plantings, I found the mossy ones far more intriguing. Moss was just everywhere. There were blankets of it on many a city roof... I wasn't sure if it was on purpose or by accident on account of all the rain. (Unfortunately I didn't get an aerial view to take any photos of the tall buildings, but I did manage to get some on the lower buildings.) And the moss appeared invasive, it covered all parts of the object or area it was growing on, which gave it a velvety effect.

Once I got outside of the city, I spotted even more moss covered items. We took a ferry ride out to Vancouver Island and hit the moss-mother-load. Looking around it was all so pretty and lush, that is until my friends and I started to think about the ramifications of these moisture loving fuzzy spores. I did some digging and as we guessed, having a layer of that gorgeous green on the roof of your house is not a good thing.

Moss (phylum- Bryophyta) is actually a plant spore that is attracted to moisture and the reason it is found with such frequency in Vancouver is simply due to the condition of the climate. Vancouver for the most part, is damp, coolish and pretty shady from all the trees and vast forests that surround the coasts; therefore creating a perfect breeding ground for moss and lichen to flourish. When it attaches itself to a roof surface, it creates a layer of moisture for a long period of time, thereby reducing the life of the roof dwelling. In freezing climates, there may be faster frost damage, cracking, and wear of the shingles under the moss or lichens. Even in non-freezing climates, the roots or growth structures of moss eventually penetrate and separate the roof shingle materials, again speeding up their demise.

So basically as pretty and quaint as I find these mossed coverings, it can be really bad and eventually the moss has to be removed- or worse case scenario-the roof gets replaced. Some preventative measures I've heard that help are installing copper or metal stripping along the edge of the roof that will kill off the moss as the rainwater washes over the metal. Another is buying chemically treated shingles that kill off lichen and moss but I hate the idea because it sounds potentially bad for the environment in some way. And finally, it is highly suggested to trim branches of trees that overshadow the roof surface.

Well, it makes me sad that the mossed roofs are evil because I've seen so many on this trip that have made me feel like Anne of Green Gables. I made our driver Jim stop at least 5 times so we could get a closer look at them. They were just that magical for me. And it didn't stop on the roofs. While we were on Vancouver Island I saw moss attaching itself to all sorts of things from trees to barns to rocks, to all sorts of things on the side of the road. It was a paradise of green and I couldn't have been happier.

I still have more pictures to develop but here's a start.

Butchart Gardens
Moss Covered Shingles
Moss Covered House
Close-up of the green culprit
Removal of moss on roof
Moss covered rock
Moss covered branches


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