A correspondent in Japan reassures me about my apple trees. ‘Is the moss hurting them?’ was the question.
She says ‘No prunus mume or actually no tree of the Rosaceae family should be without moss and lichen here in Japan. ‘Moss’ is even in our national anthem to represent life and eternity. In Ikebana arrangements, especially for New Year’s or other felicitous occasions, we even paste on bits of Parmelia tinctorum to give branches an aged look, to represent all that is old and wise and venerable still able to bring forth fragrant flower and sweet fruit, even in very cold weather. (Take that, young saplings). As you write, I do know that non-Japanese will look upon such branches as ‘mouldy’, unfortunately.’
But then we try to grow moss-free lawns under our apples, not an idea you will often meet in Japan.