Ask The Gardeners. Q&A.
Q. In looking over our mountain ash tree, which has taken on a yellowish appearance, I was startled to find holes in the trunk, starting at the base and going up about a foot above the ground. What could have caused this?
Your tree has borers in the trunk. These grubs may be white or cream-colored and make tunnels in the wood. Trees weakened by drought or winter injury become more susceptible.
Painting the trunks with latex paint will reduce sunscald and also repel the adult that lays the eggs. Now that borers are inside, the best remedy is to get some borer paste (Bortox is one commercial brand, but any garden store should be familiar with borer paste). Squirt it in the holes as far as you can. Sealing the holes with putty or bubble gum often helps the released gas to reach the borers and suffocate them. Be careful not to get any paste on the skin.
Q. While traveling about two years ago, I saw the most beautiful geranium plant I'd ever seen. It was in a florist shop and had red blooms and striking leaves of green, white, pinky-orange, and gold. Another traveler said it was called Italian Skies, or something similar. I've been unable to locate one.
The name is close. The geranium is Skies of Italy.
We are familiar with two commercial distributors of this plant as well as other unusual geraniums: Wilson Plant Sales, Roachdale, Ind. 46172 (free catalog) and Logee's Greenhouses (geraniums and other plants), 55 North Street, Danielson, Conn. 06239 (catalog is $3).
Send questions to: Garden page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.