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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Colour separation on apple due to uneven sun exposure

A clearly defined colour separation is not unusual in gala apples

Dear Helen: A friend of mind recently bought a most unusual apple at our local grocery store. It is a Gala apple with an almost straight, vertical line dividing the fruit into two colours — a bright, speckled red and a greenish yellow. Is there an explanation for this?


A clearly defined colour separation is, apparently, not unusual in some apples — Gala among them. You’ll find a photo just like yours on an internet search. I googled “Gala apple with straight line dividing two colours.”

Gala’s natural colouring is red markings, in vertical stripes, against a yellow-green background. In condtions that favour colour development, the fruit is more red, with greater contrast between the coloured and shaded side of the apple. Absorption of sunlight favours optimal colouration. The mainly yellow-green part of the apple was probably shaded by foliage.

Dear Helen: We have noticed on our travels around parts of the Island that many of the maple trees look as though they are afflicted with some sort of mould. Some stands of maples we encounter look normal, but in other areas at least 30 per cent of the trees have discoloured foliage. We wonder what might be causing this.


Maples around Vancouver Island are looking silvery this summer. I’ve come across a few stands of the trees showing this change of colour. The silvery look is symptomatic of powdery mildew, a fungus disease that thrives in warm, humid conditions. Breezes spread the disease spores.

The condition looks alarming, but it is actually not a cause for serious concern. The disease does not lead to defoliation or permanent damage on the maples.

Hot weather and drought are among the stresses that bring on vulnerability in plants to parasitic fungi. The many days of high humidity that we’ve had this summer also helped to facilitate the spread of powdery mildew.

Dear Helen: What is wrong with my tomatoes? A few of the fruits on one of my plants developed a tan coloured blotch at the far end. Beneath the blotched patches the flesh looks as though it is starting to rot.


The problem pictured in your photo is blossom end rot, a condition that seems to be common again this year in home gardens.

This is a physiological disorder caused by insufficient calcium in the fruit tissues, but blossom end rot is often the result of soil moisture levels insufficient to carry the needed calcium through to the far (blossom) end of a tomato, causing cells to collapse in that part of the tomato, with rotting to follow.

This year, hot weather arrived rather suddenly and there’s been little or no rain. For many of us it’s been a struggle to keep plantings adequately and consistently watered, especially in the raised beds that are so popular.

It could be that the plant with the marred tomatoes was positioned at a row end or in some other situation where it was on the margins of a watering system, or perhaps it was growing in a spot that was, for some reason, difficult to keep the soil deeply and evenly moistened.


Dahlia meeting. The Victoria Dahlia Society will meet on Thursday, at 7 p.m. in St. Michael’s church, 4733 West Saanich Rd. Visitors are welcome. The meeting will be a parlour show, with members bringing their dahlias for an informal show and judging. This is an opportunity to see how judges decide what makes a great bloom.

Floral arts. The Mid Island Floral Art Club will meet on Thursday at 2 p.m. in St. Stephen’s church, 250 Village Way in Qualicum Beach. Theme of the afternoon is Remembering Lynn Bonner, featuring designs made using her estate containers. New members are welcome. Guest fee $6.

Abkhazi Garden open house and plant sale. Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, is holding an Open House on Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the heritage garden with grandchildren. Prizes to be won include afternoon Tea for Two, plush bears, children’s books and more. A Fall Plant Sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will offer interesting plants, most grown at the garden. Proceeds go to the maintenance of the garden.