Flowering quince – japonica

The hardy, deciduous, slightly thorny shrubs produce masses of beautiful spring flowers, resembling apple blossom, in pretty shades of pink, red, white and orange. The yellow quince fruits appear in autumn.

Suitable site and soil. They grow in any except very chalky soil and prefer a position in full sun. They are happy in sunny borders or as wall plants.

Cultivation and care. Plant in a sheltered sunny spot, from autumn to spring. After flowering, prune all shrubs. Train wall shrubs by tying the strongest shoots to the wall in a fan-like pattern in late summer and early spring.

Propagation. Take heel cuttings in summer and insert in individual pots full of an equal mixture of peat and sand. Overwinter in a cold frame for planting out the following spring.

Recommended varieties. C.japonka (height lm – 3ft, spread 2m – 6ft) has brilliant orange and red flowers for two months from early spring. C. speciosa (height 2m – 6ft, spread 2m – 6ft) has fragrant fruits and is very free flowering. Its most popular forms include ‘Moerloosii’ with both pink and white flowers on the same branch and ‘Nivalis’ which has large pure white flowers. C. x mperba (height and spread 2m – 6ft) is a vigorous hybrid of the two. Varieties include ‘Crimson and Gold’ (crimson petals, gold anthers) and ‘Hever Castle’ (shrimp pink).

Pests and diseases. On very chalky soils, chlorosis yellows the leaves. Fireblight can wither flowers and leaves.

QUINCE IN THE KITCHEN

The ripe fruits of Chaenomeles are very fragrant and make excellent jellies and jams. A spoonful of quince jelly in an apple pie is delicious. Wait until the fruit is yellow and fairly soft to the touch, otherwise it will taste very bitter. To make jelly cook the fruit first then strain it through a muslin bag to collect the juice. Jelly can be made from equal quantities of juice and sugar. Boil until a small spoonful of the mixture sets on a saucer. The jelly is also reputed to have healing properties.

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