Myself and Grete, we both like trees. We were sad when we had to fund cutting down a very large tree in the garden (for various reasons) and we promised we’d plant some to make up for it. We tried a cherry tree, but got it badly wrong and the tree it was grafted onto was the only thing grown (and would have been huge, so that had to come up). Then we saw a miniature willow tree and that sounded perfect.
So this year we got it, planted it and cared for it, within only two days it had sprouted a load of extra leaves and branches (more than the cherry tree ever did) and we thought we were onto a winner, and then it went wrong.
We’ve got several large ants nests in the garden, and either I plant the tree in one, or they moved into the soft earth shortly after. They swarmed all over the tree, and although I couldn’t see them doing any specific damage, they weren’t helping the root ball settle in. We also got a spot of super-hot weather (just two or three days) and the tree didn’t get enough water. The new foliage died. We were sad, we were killing another tree.
But I took some corrective measures, more top soil, and some solid application of the end of a lump of wood on the ground left the tree solidly bedded in. I watered it every day. I tried to kill the ants (but failed, as usual). I watered it some more. And it stuck it out, survived a few weeks of miserable weather and made it to the long strip of hot weather we’ve had. I’ve been out every day making sure that tree has enough water (even if the rest of the garden is turning into a desert).
I think it’s paid off – it flourished, new leaves, new branches, thickening of the branches already there. I think it might pull through.
But now we have aphids. Not one or two, but billions. We’ve never had aphids in the garden that I can remember seeing in any number, so it looks like we’ve brought them in with the willow and they may well be a specific willow based aphid. I’ve just been out to squish them, again. The ants look like they’re milking them.
I need a ladybird infestation!
Anyway, I don’t think the aphids will kill the willow, but they do generate some annoying issues (honeydew and the stuff that feeds on it, including wasps and mold).
So I’ll be out making sure they stay as dead as I can for the next few weeks, washing them off and squishing the hangers on.
I’m rootin’ for you miniature willow (pun intended), we can do this.
Willow when we got it in April:
Willow in mid-June:
My hands are too shaky, I don’t own a big enough tripod and the camera is really not good enough to take photo’s of ants and aphids, but I tried anyway.
Ant vs Aphid (I think it’s milking them)
And last, but not least, more aphids.