Monday, May 7, 2012

Chaenomeles x superba 'Mandarin'

This quince lives way down in the Central Valley; it isn't really visible to most of our visitors. We worked around it today on our project and it's striking. The color is as advertised in the top picture. I am normally not a fan of warm reds (at least until they get to orange) but I'm definitely making an exception for these flowers. They're crazy. The label tells us that we got the plant from the Arnold Arboretum, and when I went on line looking for information about this cultivar I found an interesting article from Arnoldia. Apparently the plant...."originated as a seedling at the Clark Nursery in San Jose, California where it was selected for introduction into the trade in 1947." The Arnold got two grafted plants in 1950  By 1993, one of those plants had grown to 8' high by 15' in diameter. The plants we received came as own rooted cuttings. Almost twenty years later ours is 6-7 tall and maybe 6 feet across.

I'm not sure how I feel about quinces in the garden; they are plants that will take their space. For sure they belong in every old fashioned garden. Their root system is strong and the roots themselves are not as hard as iron, but it's not a plant you will relish removing especially if it has grown to any size. The flowers are wonderful; once vernalized, the branches are easily forced in late winter or early spring. Many of the colors are over the top. We just planted three new cultivars from Proven Winners with colors that can stand up to 'Mandarin'. Sometime they make those odd apple like fruits that I remember eating at my grandmother's table canned and colored green or red. The fall foliage color, well, there really isn't any and the form of the plant is acceptable at best. Still, there's something about them. It's good to have flowers in the winter, even the late winter. Just be careful where you site them. You can't stop of slow the growth; once you're committed, you're committed. Even with all those misgivings, I have to admit that I have planted a quince in our 1/4 acre garden, so I guess I must think they're worth the space!

1 comment:

Thomas Rainer said...

That color is insanely gorgeous. Fascinating history!