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Botanical: Cydonia japonica, Pyrus japonica
The Japanese Quince, familiar in our gardens, and formerly known as Pyrus japonica, now usually described as Cydonia japonica, is grown for the sake of its blossoms, which vary in colour from creamy white to rich red and are produced during the winter and early spring months. It is a handsome shrub, generally planted in a sheltered spot, often against a dwarf wall or a trellis, the brilliant flowers of the ordinary red variety being produced soon after the New Year. For the last hundred years it has been the chief spring ornament of English gardens and being quite hardy and easily grown is often seen covering the walls of cottages. A deep, moist loam suits it exactly. The flowers appear before the leaves, and later on in the year, old trees on warm walls will in a dry, hot summer produce a few fruits (Quinces), though it cannot be described as a fruitful tree in this country. They are nearly round and about thesize of a tangerine orange, ripening off a dull green colour, very fragrant and as hard as flints. When cut up, they are found to be packed with large dark pips, around which is a broad rim of flesh of a most uninviting character and quite uneatable, the flavour being rough and styptic.
There are many varieties, differing chiefly in the colour of the flowers: there is often abundance of fruit on the white variety. C. maulei, a more recently introduced shrub from Japan, bears a profusion of beautiful orange-red flowers, followed by fruit of a yellow colour and agreeable fragrance, so that when cooked with sugar, it forms a pleasant conserve.
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