a french garden

I love my quince tree.

14 Comments

One of the first trees we planted was a quince, quickly followed by a second one just in case the first did not make it.  I am particularly fond of the first one.  It is a more compact little tree with round fruits.  The second quince is a different variety with a more elongated shape and more elongated fruits.

These are real quince trees Cydonia oblonga.  They are in their glory now.  Unlike the apricot, cherry and plum trees their blossom is preceded by the softest green leaves.

This year we were lucky with the weather and the blossoms opened in the warm spring sunshine.

The buds of the blossom are a darker pink but are a perfect match for the downy green leaves.

The petals of the open flower are veined with a darker pink.


The flowers are not in clusters like cherry blossom but are the perfect size for a bumble bee to curl up in.

The edible quince flowers later than the flowering quince, Chaemomeles .  Shrubs of the  Chaemomeles family produce a small fruit similar to the much larger edible quince which are edible but rarely used as they tend to be to small to use conveniently.

They give a much more flamboyant blossom of dark pink and are often prized in a garden as they flower so early in the season.  My neighbour Annie’s flowering quince produced blossom at the end of March.

We had huge bouquets of these beautiful flowers in jugs in our houses which were an absolute picture – but it comes at a price.  They can be very invasive shrubs and difficult to keep within bounds in a small garden.  They are extremely thorny whereas the edible quince has no thorns.

I think I have been traumatised by a flowering quince that I inherited in this garden.  It had been allowed to take over a large area of the front garden.  It was not as simple as removing all the branches above the ground with a chain-saw.  The roots were so compact that they formed a huge trunk-like mass that continued some distance under the ground and was extremely difficult and time-consuming to remove.  In addition, the residual roots managed to sprout new growth every spring for several years which I cut off assiduously, in terror that the thing might re-appear and flourish anew.

However, the bees love the flowering quince which provides them with much needed nourishment at this early time in the year.

I am just glad it is in Annie’s garden and not mine.

A large part of my decision to plant a quince tree was for their fruit.  I love quinces but they are not always as easy to source as many other fruits.  They are also generally under appreciated.

I love to see the yellow fruit with its downy coat hanging on the tree in autumn but I do not eat it raw.  My quince are too hard and tough.  That is not to say there are no varieties that can be eaten raw.  I have eaten a raw quince in Isphahan, Iran which although very firm was fragrant and delicious but the quinces of Isphahan are famous and quinces probably originated in Iran.

I use my quinces to make jelly,  jam and compote.  The quince jelly can be eaten like a jam but also marries very well with savoury flavours such as meat and cheese.  A cheese plate can be given an immediate upgrade by serving it with a splash of home made quince jelly.   I also make a Persian  lamb sauce with quince and serve it with steamed rice.  The quince segments can be blanched in the autumn and frozen for use later in savoury dishes.

At the end of this month I’ll be putting up my coddling moth traps, lured with pheromones.  Unfortunately, it is not only me that enjoys the quinces and the fruit is attacked by these moth larvae which bore right into the core leaving an ugly brown trail through the flesh.  I was pleased with the result last year and hope it will work as well this year.  I am not too precious about any damaged fruit and would prefer to cut away damaged fruit than have perfect fruit all of the time at the expense of using systemic pesticides or spraying indiscriminately.

I love my quince tree.

Advertisements

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

14 thoughts on “I love my quince tree.

  1. Is that the same as Membrillo, if I have spelt it right, which is Spanish and you have with cheese. And I really like it.

    Like

  2. You have a nice blog 🙂
    I love planting and gardening too.

    Like

    • Thanks. I want to write later about my little neflier that you like and also another neflier that is a totally different species that I love that gives fruit in the winter. I think you get the idea that I like fruit!

      Like

  3. The bees in the flower are awesome! Love the tree, So pretty! I’m normally not a huge fab of pink, but that is awesome !So soft and subtle in color! And the darker coral colored ones are pretty too!

    Like

  4. Would love to try quince sometime.

    Like

  5. Your wonderful photography gives me inspiration.

    Like

  6. I do love the colour of Annie’s flowering quince, but i (grudingly) accept quince is not suitable for my garden so instead i love it from afar

    Like

  7. Such a beautiful tree, the real quince, and I agree about the flowering quince. I have one that keeps trying to grow in my garden but I simply don’t have room for it and its thorns, so I pull out every shoot that appears. It’s very resilient. We are now in the 14th year of our battle! Isn’t the bumble bee in its flower bed so lovely?

    Like

  8. I often find bees asleep in the flowers – so cute- but this one was just resting. The quince tree is at the beautiful stage of opening its leaves at the moment. They are a beautiful, soft green and look two tone twisting open, as one side is velvety (14.3.14) Amelia

    Like

  9. I was googling around for articles on quince blossom and look where I landed 🙂
    Our quince is now 3 years old and I’m hoping to get some blossom this year! Its just breaking into leaf at the moment. We also planted a japanese quince last autumn, I will try to keep it contained!

    Like

    • The japanese quince are beautiful and the flowers are so attractive to the bees. I hope you get some quince fruit this year, it should flower soon. Mine has no flower buds yet. Amelia

      Like

  10. thanks for confirming what I had growing in my newly purchased yard..Of course I love anything the bees love, and hope to get some fruit to preserve.

    Like

    • Quince makes great jam and jelly. I like the jelly as a compliment to cold meats and cheese. The raw fruit can also be added to savoury dishes, it is a very useful fruit to have in the garden so I hope you get a good crop :). Amelia

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s