Chaenomeles - flowering quince
One of the first arrivals of the year in the garden, an attractive and early flowering shrub producing gorgeous red, pink and orange colours and a fruit which is edible – if cooked
Chaenomeles belong to one of the most popular group of shrubs, those that flower in the early spring.
This is a time of the year when the days are short so colourful floral displays are very welcome.
The Latin name can be tricky to pronounce (and not easy to spell) but luckily for us the common names flowering quince and japonica are easier.
Cultivars or varieties that have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit, and therefore are highly recommended, include Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Geisha Girl’ with semi-double apricot flowers, the scarlet flowered Chaenomeles × superba ‘Nicoline’ with its fragrant yellow fruits and the apple blossom like blooms of Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Moerloosei’.
The flowering quince is a deciduous plant, the leaves generally appearing after the flowers. These leaves are oval, dark green and have a healthy gloss and it possesses some rather cruel prickles! The fruit is very high in Vitamin C and pectin so is ideal for making preserves. In fact the word marmalade comes from the Portuguese word for quince, marmelo.
It is often grown as a wall shrub, where is it likely to produce more flowers, but can also be grown in a shrub or mixed border, in sun or part shade.
As they flower on the previous year’s growth heavy pruning should be avoided, just remove any shoots heading in a direction they shouldn’t and dead or diseased branches after flowering.