Monday, June 25

Ladybugs and Lady Birds

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 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!


Colleen Vanderlinden said...

Oh, your poor tree! I know you'll enjoy planning what to replace it with, though :-)

I love the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center site. I've never been there, but it seems like the type of place I could get happily lost in.

Don't work too hard, and have a Happy 4th!

Ki said...

We planted two different kinds of cherry trees and they both suffered some kind of fungal disease and languished despite my spraying some sulfur solution so I dug them out. Most of the fruit trees we planted were failures. Either disease killed the tree (fireblight for the pear and apple) or the bugs and birds attacked the fruit. Just last week I had to cut down the 'Opalescent' apple tree because it had fireblight. Plums were the most successful stone fruit and we still have one but fight the birds for the fruit and a peach which we keep only for its flowers in the spring.

Good idea about visiting the Lady Bird Johnson wildlflower center site in the winter. I'll have to remember that on a cold snowy day.

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Hi Blackswampgirl! I'm blessed enough to be close enough to the Wildflower Center (outside Austin) to visit now and then. It's just awesome!

I'm mourning the loss of your cherry tree; that's gotta be sad. I wish we could grow cherries down here in TX....

bobbi c.

lisa said...

Sorry about your tree!! I only have Nanking cherry bushes, and so far they are doing great! I can't wait to see what you replace it with! I'll miss you in the blogosphere, but my own attendance here has been less than I'd like too-too much at work and home to be done! Thanks for the link-I like her site for the "Ask Mr. Smartyplants" feature that you can use to ID wildflowers-they are very helpful! Have a great 4th yourself!

Kati said...

As the child of immigrants to Canada, and inspite of having a patriotic teacher in the 3rd grade, I learned about the 4th of July long before I learned about Canada Day, because we had readers published in the US. I remember thinking then, and still do, that all the stars and stripes, the red white and blue, and rah rah sounds like so much fun! We do the fireworks thing and a little flag-waving ourselves on July 1, but as luck would have it, I am usually scheduled to work at my paying job on July 1. Fireworks from 7 floors up and 3-4 miles away are just not the same...Happy 4th of July and/or Canada Day to all.

meresy_g said...

Poor tree. But also an exciting opportunity! What to plant, what to plant? And thanks for the wildflower link. Always nice to have more plant id sites. Have a great holiday.

Nickie said...

I love the wildflower link...I bought the Lady Bird Johnson rose this year, love it too. :)

Sorry about the tree.

Kylee Baumle said...

Sorry about your tree, Kim! We had a maple that we were sure had anthracnose last summer, but it seems to be fine this year!

Thanks for the link to the wildflower center. I can really use something like this to try and identify those things that Romie and I saw yesterday at Goll Woods. If you've never been there, you really should try to do that when you're on this side of the state. Check out my latest post about it!

Anonymous said...

That just blows (about the tree).

I love that you were thinking of Lady Bird. My grandma just loved the lady and I grew up not very far from the LBJ ranch. My father, even today, talks fondly of Lyndon and Lady Bird.


I'd not bothered to look up the links. Thanks for posting it. (UT is my school! Hook 'em Horns!)

Also, just do what you do darlin. Post if you want. Don't if you don't. We'll be here when you get back. And keep in mind that I was in Sweden alone. There were several days in a row where I never spoke at all. And I didn't really fit in.

It was great trip but tremendously lonesome. I wrote my little entries to make myself feel better. I'm delighted that you read them. Write if you want.

We'll be here.

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