2 Mar 2011

Chaenomeles (Japonica Quince)

During the winter 'Gardeners World' broadcast a feature about photographing plants. We were encouraged to go into the plant borders in the sunshine and amongst the flowers with a camera and a watering plant spray, 'to give added sparkle and interest to the pictures'. If this sounds rueful it is because this photograph was taken in the rain, in the cold, in February, balancing a tripod and an umbrella (to protect the lens) and stuck, yes, harpooned, in the shrubbery.
But what a plant to brighten up February! Outside in the Holkham Walled Garden and looking stunning. Some call this a Japonica,  but that name is used for many plants originating from the Far East. Some call it a quince but it is not a true quince though it is related to one. It is really a Chaenomeles, (pronounced shay-nom-a-lees).
The fruits are hard and astringent though they improve after a frost when they are said to be 'bletted'. The rabbits and pheasants were seen eating them during January. They are, however, suitable for making liqueurs, marmalade and preserves as they contain more pectin than apples and true quinces. The fruit also contains more vitamin C than lemons. 
The photograph below was of the same bush back in December.

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