With their multiple layers of interest, they can provide us with a fantastic year-round experience. Their stunning blossoms come in an assortment of colours, from a rich crimson hue to a delightful combination of white and pink, while their attractive fruits are simply irresistible. Moreover, their wide range of autumn shades and exquisite fragrance add to the charm.
Pseudocydonia sinensis - Chinese Quince (30-40cm tall): A handsome, small deciduous tree with dark green, finely toothed leaves that turn vivid shades of dark red and orange in autumn. It has an attractive, colourful peeling bark which becomes even more striking in the winter. Delicate, 2inch wide, pink cup-shaped flowers bloom late spring and after a hot summer, you will be treated to custard-yellow skinned, mango sized fruits which give off an intense, sweet aroma as they ripen late autumn, early winter. The edible fruits can be cooked, stewed, and poached making them perfect for delicious jams, jellies, syrups, pies, muffins or even for having on top of your morning porridge. The tree grows well in Britain against a south facing wall.
Chaenomeles cathayensis - Chinese Flowering Quince (30-50cm tall): An unusual, vigorous, deciduous shrub that flowers in Spring, together or just before the new leaves appear. A fantastic ornamental the Chinese Flowering Quince originates from China which produces large, edible fruits later on in the year. With the shrub having spiny shoots and thorns, it can make an effective barrier when planted, especially in hedging. During the spring, masses of pinkish -peach flowers are formed in small clusters which stand out against its tinted purple, simple shaped leaves. Later on in the year, the leaves turn green. The huge, large apple sized, rounded fruits mature from September. They are hard when raw, but deliciously fragrant when cooked, excellent for jellies or jams. It grows equally well in full sun or partial shade; a well drained but moist soil is optimal, but it will grow well on almost any soil which is not too alkaline. It is hardy to temperatures as low as -20c.
Chaenomeles speciosa - Japanese Flowering Quince (15-20cm tall): Called by the same common name as the Chaenomeles japonica, this very ornamental, small shrub features wonderful orangish-red flowers as early as the first day of spring. Suitable for pot growing (as a patio plant) and to be trained to a wall. It is more of an upright, vigorous shrub reaching a possible 2m in height in the garden or in a large pot. Its apple sized fruits are edible, yellow when ripe. The fruit is best when cooked as it makes a perfect addition to any jams and the squeezed juice is rich in aroma. Fast growing and hardy to -20C.
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