Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Red-flowered Quince

chaenomeles-superba-hollandia-in-bloom-640

With early-Spring flowers this luscious—especially after this long hard Winter—flowering quince is more welcome than ever.

 

This is one of the darker-red cultivars, 'Hollandia.'  The yellow pistils are a happy contrast with the flowers themselves, and also a link to the groundcover of Yellow Creeping Jenny.  (Yup, I thought that combo up all by myself.)  The matching red edge on the leaves is yet another of this shrub's cool elisions.

 

'Hollandia' is the earliest color in the Red Gardens' season—with so many voles, moles, rabbits, skunks, possums, and squirrels, tulips would just be one more of their Winter lunches—but by early May the flowers are done. 

 

I also enjoy, or at least appreciate and respect, the needle-sharp thorns.  The flowers are so "bosomy" that the thorns bring a welcome spikiness, literally and aesthetically.  The bush may be gorgeous in flower, but that doesn't mean it's a softy.

 

The thorns on the low-spreading growth of free-range quinces make for some painful weeding.  After you've kneeled once on a ground-level branch, you'll never do it again.  To limit those painful encounters, I espalier my pair of 'Hollandia' on free-standing frames of metal poles and cross-wires.  The maturing bushes are only a foot thick, and I take care to clip off any branch that gets the thought of growing at ground-level.

 

Flowering quinces don't bring interest to a Summer garden, at least not floral.  And yet Red Gardens are inherently at their peak in Summer, what with dahlias and tropicals and roses and mums.  There isn't room in the Red Gardens for a dead spot of Spring-flowering bushes with no Summer color, so the espaliering keeps my Hollandias interesting by geometry instead.  In Summer the bushes themselves are just green leaves, but thanks to espaliering they'll be eight-foot-square walls of green leaves, an impressive pair of book-ends to the South pair of beds in the Red Garden.  They easily hold their own even with blaring-red dahlias, burgundy castor beans, orange crocosmias, and terra-cotta mums for warm-weather neighbors.

 

This chilly coda to a long Winter:  When the unusually long-lasting and deep snows finally melted in March, I was horrified to see what had been going on beneath the drifts:  Voles and squirrels tunneled through the snow to dine in comfort, out of the wind and ice, on the bark of  quinces (as well as my ornamental elms; an article on those will show up soon). 

 

chaenomeles-hollandia-gnawed-bark-640

 

While there were some branches that escaped the gnawing—and even gnawed branches are slowly leafing and blooming—no bush wants such a seasonal assault.  I'll write later in the season on how to protect the bushes from possible attack in the Winter to come.

 

Here's a look at the espalier of this sensational flowering quince.

 

Here's how to grow this sensational flowering quince:

Latin Name

Chaenomeles x superba 'Hollandia'

Common Name

Red-flowered quince

Family

Rosaceae, the rose family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous shrub.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 9

Habit

Broad and dense, with many spreading and spiny branches.

Rate of Growth

Medium.

Size in ten years

Unpruned, a clump to six feet wide and three or four feet tall.  Six feet and taller when trained.

Texture

Dense and twiggy.

Grown for

the late Winter and early Spring flowers, which arise directly from the older wood of the branches almost right down to the ground.  Those of 'Hollandia' are particularly dark red, and have contrasting showy yellow stamens.  Branches can be cut throughout the Winter for forcing indoors, where their angular spareness and full-length scattering of flowers are particularly elegant.

 

the form, if trained. Like so many fiercely-thorny plants (hardy orange, roses, pyracantha), flowering quince is easy to train against a wall or fence or onto a vertical frame.  The small leaves, quickness of growth, and readiness to sprout side shoots means you can tie-in branches just where you need them, and clip them off where you don't.

 

Flowering season

Early Spring where and when there's a rough Winter.  In milder climates, gently throughout the Winter and into Spring. 

Culture

Sun or part shade in any reasonable soil and with normal moisture.  Very tolerant.

How to handle it

If untrained, just plant it and let it grow.  Sharp spines, though, can make for painful weeding under the low-spreading branches, so consider underplanting with a dense, low, and shade-tolerant groundcover such as pachysandra.  If any pruning is needed, do it right after flowering; the flower buds form on branches grown the previous season, so need Summer and early Fall to grow sufficiently and mature enough to set the buds for next Spring's flowers.

 

Espaliered bushes are, by contrast, very easy to weed around.  Prune the bush right after flowering, and tie-in or prune off new growth as desired throughout the season.

Downsides

In my gardens the bushes are trouble-free, but when stressed by drought or too much rain, heat, or humidity, quince are susceptible to a range of ailments: Fireblight, canker, rust, apple mosaic virus, scale, leaf spot, and defoliation.  

 

And as I've discovered this season, in Winters of long-lasting heavy snow, the bark below the snow-line can get gnawed by voles and squirrels who are all too happy to forage out of the wind, via tunnels in the snow.

 

All of these potentialities notwithstanding, flowering quince is typically a tough, self-reliant, and long-lived shrub. 

Variants

There are many cultivars and hybrids of the four flowering quince species.  Flowers can be white, pink, orange, salmon, or red.  Single and double forms are available.  My wish-list includes a two-foot dwarf, C. japonica var. alpina, with single orange flowers with widely-spaced narrow petals.  Sigh.  

Availability

On-line; other hybrids are almost universally available at retailers.

Propagation

Cuttings and layering.  Seeds germinate readily, but only the species come true; hybrids, including 'Hollandia', do not.

Native habitat

Eastern Asia:  Japan, China, Korea






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!

 

Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:

 

* indicates required