Attractive, rather unusual, fruit trees that can be grown in containers and also make excellent specimen trees in the middle of a lawn. The leaves are a pale, pale light grey-green when they emerge in the spring and the top sides gradually darken as the year progresses.
The flowers emerge in late spring and are pale pink to white single flowers, flat and cupped, just like the flowers of the dog rose (Rosa canina) but a bit smaller. They have yellow stamens. The fruit turns from green to gold and should be picked in late fall.
Quinces are a tree for a temperate climate for they like cool winters but conversely they flower best in areas with hot summers and in colder areas they should be given the protection of a wall. They can be fan-trained if necessary.
Spread a 7.5cm (3in) thick mulch around plants in spring and feed with 100g per sq m (3oz per square yard) of Growmore or other general fertiliser. In late winter feed plants in pots fortnightly with liquid general fertiliser.
Raise containers onto pot feet to allow excessive moisture to drain away.
In winter remove dead, diseased or damaged stems, along with thinning out any congested or unproductive stems. Aim to maintain a system of well-spaced branches on a clear stem, removing wayward stems as they’re produced.
‘Vranja’ AGM: Large, pale green to golden, pear-shaped fruit.
‘Champion’: Pear-shaped fruit which ripens earlier than others.
‘Lusitanica’: Very tasty fruit, but not as hardy as others.
‘Meech’s Prolific’: Bright golden yellow fruits with good flavour.
Fruit are ready to harvest in October or November when they have turned from a light yellow to a golden colour and are extremely aromatic.
The fruit is not eaten raw, but cooked. When poached quinces have a bewitching scent that pervades the whole kitchen and they can be used instead of pears, or made into chutney with lemons. The best way to use quinces is to make quince jelly and then use the pulp to make French sweetmeat cotignac (quinces, like apples, contain a lot of pectin).