As I only have one day left to get in this month’s tree post I took myself down to the bottom of the garden today, camera in hand. I wasn’t expecting any changes – the tree looked just the same from a distance. In fact I was wondering what on earth I could fill a post with.
When I got there I had rather a shock. All the beautiful coppery eaves were losing their colour.
My first thought was that it was lack of water. It has been very dry recently and I hadn’t thought it necessary to water such a big tree. I was worried though as next door had built a largish building over their side of the fence. They weren’t digging down so wouldn’t damage the roots, but it would mean the tree wouldn’t get quite as much water as usual.
So the first thing I did was rush off to get the hose and left it soaking the bottom of the tree – we don’t have any water shortages here so no problem.
Then I started taking photographs and immediately noticed the aphids – exactly the same as the ones that had discoloured the leaves of my yellow climbing rose – only this time a bit bigger and more yellow. You would have laughed if you could have seen me, having climbed up onto the old coal bunkers to get up amongst the leaves. Trouble is I was up amongst the aphids too – I had them everywhere: on my clothes, in my hair, on the camera and every time I moved a branch they all swarmed about. Lovely! There only seemed to be one or two on each leaf though so they must be really busy causing all that damage.
It was rather a relief that it wasn’t the drought. After all surely a great big beech tree won’t be too affected long term by these tiny aphids. I am wondering though about using the leaves for compost – will the eggs survive the composting process? Let’s hope not, because I think all the big garden trees could be affected and I love my leaf compost. I don’t really want a cold winter, but I think it would help with this problem.
I have spent a bit of time on Google trying to identify these aphids – I don’t know why but I just feel better knowing what they are. I did find a woolly beech aphid which sounded promising, but there are no signs of any fluff as yet. I also found a pecan aphid which looked very similar, but I have to wonder what a pecan aphid would be doing on my copper beech and on my roses!
While trying to get photos of these little blighters I noticed this strange protuberance on one of the leaves – I wonder if it is an egg, or just some strange cell growth. It seemed to start on the underside of the leaf.
Look at the bottom of the picture – the best photo I got of an aphid and I didn’t even know it was there!
The other surprise I got this year was that the normal beech tree’s nut cases are green at the moment and not brown like the copper beech’s. I don’t know why that should surprise me, but it did! I guess when they fall in the Autumn they are all brown.
There was something I did miss though, earlier in the year. I was feeling so clever noticing the flowers on the tree for the first time, but I completely missed the male catkins. Apparently beech trees are monoecious. That means they have both male and female flowers on the same tree. Handy! It seems most other people miss them too as I couldn’t find a single photo on Google to show what they would have looked like. So, sorry, we will all have to wait until next year to find out!
Well, the beech tree may be looking a bit peely wally** close up, but it still looks magnificent from further away, standing guard over my back garden. I think I will keep watering it now though, just in case.
**Peely wally: A mostly Scottish word meaning pale and sickly in appearance – quite often used the morning after a good night out! As in “Ye’re lookin’ awfy peely–wally, son”
Thanks to Lucy at LooseAndLeafy for hosting this great meme – there are lots of other ‘tree followers’ listed on her site.