I can't bear to take pictures of the whole tree--it looks so terrible--but my Bing cherry has been hit again. This time, the culprit is aphids. I noticed them a few weeks ago, and also noticed some spiny, red-and-black things firmly attached to the underside of the leaves as well. This site identifies the spiny creatures I saw as the larvae of the Asian lady beatle... and you can see in the picture I took this week that they are looking a lot more beatle-like now!
They are apparently good eaters of aphids, but not good enough to save the tree. I had talked about taking it out when I first noticed bacterial canker, and the aphid attack reminded me that it really needs to go. Shovel pruning is usually my method of choice, but this is a big boy so a little hatchet or pruning saw will probably need to be pressed into service. I'm already plotting its replacement--but more on that plan this fall.
All of these thoughts about ladybugs reminded me of lady birds... in particular, one Lady Bird, also known as Mrs. Johnson. She's been in the news lately because of illness and hospitalization, but in healthier times she and actress Helen Hayes founded a wildflower center at the University of Texas at Austin.
I can totally get lost in the center's website, which can be found at www.wildflower.org. If you haven't already found this yourself, set aside at least half an hour and play around there. (Or if you're a northern gardener, bookmark it for a nice leisurely perusal this winter when everything outside is brown and grey.) Even if you aren't interested in gardening with natives, you have to admire an image database that can be searched by tags like "bark," "seeds," and other gardener-friendly terms... it's a great resource.
On an unrelated note, I will probably be mostly MIA from the blog in the next couple of weeks. At my regular job, we put on a two-week summer event on the weekends around the Fourth of July. It's a fun event but very time consuming, so don't be surprised if you don't hear from me. (Of course, that's what The Clerk said before he headed out to Sweden, and we enjoyed some very lovely posts from him during those two weeks so who knows what will happen, really)
If I don't "see" you all, though, between then and now: Have a very safe and fun Fourth of July!