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Quince trees: the blossom, the scent, the ease of growing

The ornamental value of fruit trees can be outstanding. Fruit trees in blossom are an ever-returning beauty at spring time. However one particular fruit tree is greatly underestimated and even forgotten. That is the quince tree. I planted a selection of different varieties 20 years ago. Each variety has its own very attractive characteristics. But more of this later. The main point I would like to put across is that it is a very hardy type of tree: for most of the time, it is very capable of looking after itself, year after year and season after season. So if you are short on time, and you like the idea of abundant white and pink blossom, PLANT A QUINCE TREE!

quince

If, in addition to the blossom, you like the quince fruits as well, then plant 2 Quinces, not of the same variety. There is plenty of choice; Champion, Vranja, Portugal, Serbian Gold, Meeches Prolific. The fruits are a highly attractive and mostly deep yellow. The size of the fruits varies according to the variety. The scent of the ripening fruits, for example Vranja, is just wonderful. The intensity increases as the fruits ripen. The shape of the fruits is different from one variety to the next; Serbian Gold quinces are more apple-shaped while Vranja is more elongated. Meeches Prolific fruits are smaller in size, but of more distinctive flavour, useful when making quince marmalade or quince jelly, or as slices used to add flavour to apple pies. Meeches Prolific crops early, and it is also the most regular cropper.

quince
Quinces love organic matter and need to be planted in bare ground around the stem. NO GRASS!! For the first three years, keep 4 square feet around the trunk of the tree clear of grass and weeds and well mulched with organic matter/manure. In the first three years, during drought, help the tree with a full watering can regularly, to stop the tree from drying out.

Planting distance depends on soil depth. Deep loamy soils will produce a larger canopy, compared with stony, shallow soils. As a benchmark, allow 3 to 5 metre spacing, depending on site and soil quality. No need for detailed pruning whatsoever. Just remove the odd crossing branch or broken branch. That’s all. The trees are very independent and like to look after themselves. All you have to do is to enjoy their beauty and their flavoursome fruits. You can plant now: don’t delay, order your trees at Suffolk Fruit & Trees or send an email to enquiries@realenglishfruit.co.uk.

Quince – Cydonia vulgaris

Quince tree, photo courtesy of rmtw/flickr.com

Quince tree, photo courtesy of rmtw/flickr.com

Quinces are beautiful trees and live to a great age. These trees love to grow in fertile and moist soil. They love an open and sunny position. They are ideal near a stream. They have beautiful large blossoms, fairly late in the spring. A very hardy tree. They usually do best with a companion. I recommend Vranja and Meeches EarlyProlific. This last tree is smaller and more suitable for the smaller garden. The trees, once established need no further attention as they are very capable of looking after themselves. However in the early years it is important to remove crossing branches and any other branches which reduce the entry of light into the tree. The black marking that can occur on the fruits is caused by crossing branches that scar the quinces. As for all fruit trees, in the early years, it is important to give the quince trees water in very dry summer periods.
The fruits are very aromatic and should be stored by themselves, as the quince scent will adversely affect  the flavour of other fruits. Store them in a cool, frost-free place. The fruits are superb for the preparation of a large range of dishes either as an addition or by themselves.

There are several ways of preparing quinces for jams, chutneys, jellies etc. It is the initial preparation which is important to get right. The fruits are rock-hard and therefore need to be softened up before peeling and coring them:
1) wash the quinces,
2) wrap each one in foil,
3) bake in the oven until soft, for up to 1 hour.
4) unwrap when cool and remove cores and any skin,
5) use for recipes as required.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order