Espalier emergency. Maybe you can help.
The best of times the worst of times.
Above are shots from today (left) and last April 28 (right). Left to right are the dwarf plum, dwarf apple and two dwarf pear trees. I've found three problems with my espaliers I haven't come across in its first five years. Maybe you can help me save my trees.
Somebunnies been munching on it.
Seen above. Wascally wabbits is my best guess. I'm land-locked urban, so my natural predators are squirrels, rabbits, birds, cats and the occasional kid. Kids don't chew fruit trees do they? The only solution I can think of of to acquire a taste for rarebit.
Aphids have taken over the plum tree!
This seems even more serious. We noticed the dwarf pear trees are budding nicely, but the apple & plum aren't faring as well. Upon closer inspection, the rough bark on the plum wasn't rough bark, but a coating of aphids. I've sprayed the majority off. I was even out there with a sponge wiping them off the parts of branches I can't get with the hose (my neighbors think I'm garden obsessive already, so wiping trees with a sponge might not have shocked them). I plan to do this every other day until I'm satisfied they're gone. I'll try soapy water. I'll even buy some aphid killer. What do you suggest?
What are these?
What are these big old crusty knotty things on my dwarf apple tree? They're rough, bulbous and plentiful, on the lower branches/trunk. Are they harmful? Will they grow more? Will they take over the tree? Are they a disease? Is it communicable? Can they read minds? What can I do to stop them?