Entries in flowering quince (11)

Sunday
Feb122017

Pre-Spring in the Garden

Temperatures here have fluctuated from near freezing to shirt-sleeve warm. On warmer days I have enjoyed the chance to kick off 2017 gardening with clean-up and late winter pruning. Early bloomers are trying to push the season into spring a bit early. I know hard frosts are still likely; but as more blooms open daily, I am getting excited about spring. I won't say spring has arrived, but we are definitely into pre-spring!

Here is a look at some early blooms. Daffodils and forsythia:

Flowering quince (chaemoneles) with forsythia in the background:

Forsythia is an old-fashioned, common shrub, but who can resist its cheerful burst of blooms on a gray February day?

Daphne odora 'Marginata' has a pleasing fragrance and waxy blooms that contrast beautifully with its variegated foliage:

My pale pink camellia by the mailbox has smaller blooms than usual this year. I am amazed it has any blooms at all. We were 3 months into our drought last fall before I noticed its leaves wilting and finally gave it some supplemental water:This camellia began as a volunteer seedling. Its parent has red blooms.

Magnolia 'Jane' began blooming this weekend. It is often called a tulip tree because of its tulip-like blooms:

Hellebores are reliable late-winter bloomers:

Anise (Illicium parviflorum) 'Florida Sunshine' is not known for its inconspicuous blooms, but its chartreuse foliage and red stems light up the winter garden. The leaves have a wonderful licorice fragrance::

Finally, I came across these colorful little mushrooms while walking in the woodland garden. They were a nice surprise that came from all the rain we have been having:

Happy pre-spring!

You may also enjoy my previous post:  Are You a Plant Snob?

Sunday
Jan222017

Flowering Quince for Early Blooms

In my Alabama garden, Flowering quince, or Chaenomeles, begins blooming in January on leafless stems, and the blooms continue for at least two months. In cooler regions, blooming begins later, in February or March. The brilliant blossoms are always a welcome harbinger of spring.Sometimes my blooms get zapped by hard frost, but more flowers quickly appear. Edible 2" fruits follow the blooms, though they are seriously sour-tasting. The fruits do make good jelly, however.

Not only is this the first shrub to bloom in my garden each year, but it also is among the most durable of my shrubs. When we moved here in 1985, we found several quinces buried under weeds and vines on a hillside next to the drive. I was alerted to their presence by the colorful blooms that peeked through the brush.We decided to move them to a better location. It wasn't an easy transplant. They apparently had been on that hillside for a very long time; their roots were deeply embedded in the clay and almost hopelessly ensnared by their environment. We hacked out as much of them as possible and moved the shrubs to an area bordering the front lawn. Released from bondage and with better soil, they have flourished ever since with minimal care. Once established, they have proven to be drought-resistent. One year they were attacked by white flies, but they responded well to a good spray of horticultural oil.

Chaenomeles speciosa is a deciduous shrub that grows from 5-10' tall and wide. A spiny tangle of branches makes good hedges, screens and security barriers. After blooming, it is not showy, but its mass of green leaves provide nice structure for the garden.

Flowering quince will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 in a wide range of soils, though it does best in slightly acid, loamy soil. It needs full sun for best flower production, but it will also grow in partial shade. 

Chaenomeles japonica and various hybrids are also available. Some of these lack thorns, are fruitless, or are smaller in habit than speciosa. Different varieties produce blooms in shades of red, pink, salmon, orange, or white, and some are noted for their gorgeous double blooms. Use cut branches for beautiful indoor flower arrangements.

Flowers are produced on the previous year's growth.To promote flowering and maintain shape and size, prune in spring after flowering is finished, removing some of the oldest branches down to the ground and cutting others back by a third or more, staggering cuts to maintain a natural appearance. Then apply a layer of compost or else use a slow-release fertilizer.

Flowering quince is a wonderful plant for wildlife, providing both food and shelter for birds and other critters. It is noted to be deer-resistant.