Changing of the Colors: The Summer Edition


Who doesn’t like the spectacular color change that heralds the arrival of fall? New England’s tourist industry thrives as the green leaves give way to golden yellows, warm oranges and vibrant reds. Though less flamboyant, I present to you the changing of the colors: the summer edition.

First up, Hydrangeas. This lovely goes from bright green to pink, then softens to a dusty mauve before turning a cooler shade of green. You can snip flowers from the vine at this last stage, then brought indoors for drying.

Fading Hydrangea Collage

Hydrangeas Fade

Tomatoes need a variety of conditions before they turn from green to red. The smaller the tomato, the faster the transformation. Tomatoes need moderate temperatures, shelter from the wind and time.  The color can’t be forced.  According to Gardening Know How:

Tomatoes are triggered to turn red by a chemical called ethylene. Ethylene is odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye. When the tomato reaches the proper green mature stage, it starts to produce ethylene. The ethylene then interacts with the tomato fruit to start the ripening process. Consistent winds can carry the ethylene gas away from the fruit and slow the ripening process.

If you find that your tomatoes fall off the vine, either knocked off or due to frost, before they turn red, you can place the unripe tomatoes in a paper bag. Provided that the green tomatoes have reached the mature green stage, the paper bag will trap the ethylene and will help to ripen the tomatoes.

Tomatoes from green to red

Ethylene Gas = Red Tomatoes

Pumpkins turn orange much the same way tomatoes turn red. In addition to color, they also need to harden before harvesting or they will quickly rot. We had a pumpkin survive on our front porch for over nine months one year. Once carved, however, the fruit rots within a few days. According to All About Pumpkins:

There are many indications that your pumpkin is ready to harvest. A Jack-O-Lantern variety should be predominately orange in color. If the vine has started to “go away” (meaning dying off and declining) this is another signal. Sometimes the stem is already starting to twist and dry. The most important indication to look for, is that the shell has started to harden. If you can easily indent the pumpkin skin using your fingernail, the fruit is still too immature to harvest. If you harvest it at this stage, your pumpkins will likely shrivel and spoil within days. When the shell has hardened, your pumpkin is ready to cut from the vine.

Pumpkin Turning Orange

“Acorn” Pumpkin Turning Orange

What’s changing colors in your garden? Do you have a favorite? Please let me know in the comments, below.


14 thoughts on “Changing of the Colors: The Summer Edition

  1. In our garden, the baby bear pumpkins have turned a gorgeous orange and the tomatoes are ripening, it’s interesting to read that the wind can hinder their ripening. We have quite strong winds here so that may account for the slow arrival of our tasty tomatoes.


    • I love that name ‘baby bear.’ Are they as small as an apple or am I thinking of something else?

      It was interesting to learn about the wind’s effect on the color. Seed packets often say “shelter from the wind” but they don’t say why. I just assumed it was the obvious: that they could tip over.

      I bit into a few store-bought tomatoes today and they were awful. Hard and flavorless. I can’t wait for the garden to start producing.


      • They’re bigger than an apple, around half a kilo each. I’m so looking forward to cooking with them, they’re a great all-rounder apparently. I really hate buying tomatoes from a store now, they’re so tasteless and even cooking with them isn’t great. I’ve just made my first batch of tomato relish with my home grown tomatoes and it’s delicious, those giant and plum tomatoes that I am experimenting with are a great success taste wise. I’ll definitely grow them again next season.


        • It’s nice to hear of your success, Eleenie! They sound delicious. What do you do with the tomato relish?

          I wonder if you can save seeds to grow next season? I saved tomato seeds one year, then forgot to plant them! Silly me.


  2. I just love your Hydrangeas. They can be tricky to grow in Alberta since the low winter temps can reach -35C (-31F), crazy right? Add the wind factor and it’s just nutty. I did have one called ‘Lime Light’, it grew pinnacle shaped multi-petaled flowers that are a bright lime green, fading to light pinky-peachy-beige.

    What loveliness will you plan with the ones you dry?


    • Those are beautiful! Thanks for sharing the picture. I’ve not seen them before.

      Boy it gets cold in Alberta. I do remember the cold winters in Ontario, but I’m fully integrated (and spoiled) by our California weather. The Bay Area rarely freezes, and if so, it’s in the middle of the night.

      I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the dried flowers. I’ll let you know.


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