Chaenomeles speciosa

This splendid deciduous shrub, once known to the amateur as ‘japonica’, is a Japanese flowering quince. It*can be grown on a wall, preferably (though not necessarily) facing south, where it may climb to 8 feet (2.4 m) and spread to double that distance. It looks neat and formal trained round the lower windows of a house, a change from the sprawly climbing roses and honeysuckles. Any good soil will suit it.

The scarlet flowers, cupped like apple blossom, bloom in clusters from very early to late spring. In early summer, when all the flowers are over, the tricky business of pruning should be done. When the plant is young, just cut off any branchlets which are growing outward from the wall; once a network of branches is established, cut out unwanted wood, and also spur back the previous season’s shoots to two or three buds.

There are varieties of C. speciosa in a number of shades of red and pink, some with double flowers, but, next to the scarlet species, my favourite is the pure white ‘Nivalis’. Cottage peonies, with their strong green foliage and double red flowers, are effective planted at the shrub’s feet.

I believe the fruit can be made into quince jelly, but I admit that I have not tried it as I always have enough crab apples for this worthy activity.

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