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Japanese quince


Most mornings, I am out of the house within 10 minutes of being awake, having persuaded a snoring hound to give up his corner of the duvet for the promise of being happily chased by a randomly encountered dog, and a breakfast of rabbit poo. A few minutes from the sea, we pass a narrow garden where the postie has to duck to keep the lowest branches of a Japanese quince from dislodging his wooly hat. Over the last 6 weeks, this tree, 12 feet at its peak, has flooded with pale blossom and tight buds. Every few days its hair seems to have grown.

It seems impossible it can be the same species as the untidy couple-of-feet-high bush below the dining room window in the film above, or either those growing as a short hedge or the one fan trained at Knightshayes.

On this coldest of days, when the smoke hits cloud and drizzle as soon as it leaves the chimney, any optimistic signpost that the seemingly impossible - that it might be light, bright and warm again - will come to pass, is so welcome.

I’m not sure there’s a better plant for that than Japanese quince. You might even be able to catch a hint of its spicy summer-into-autumn scent not completely washed from windfall fruit by a winter of rain.

I’ve got a couple of excellent varieties - Jet Trail and Crimson and Gold - in the nursery at the moment (you’ll find them elsewhere too), so if you need some late winter optimism and some late autumn fruit without needing the space of a quince tree, the Japanese quince one might be for you.

Mark Diacono's Garden To Table
Mark Diacono's Garden To Table
Mark Diacono