So many great plants coming into bloom for spring. One of the most under used and under appreciated flowering shrubs coming into bloom right now are the Chaenomeles species. These Quince are native to Japan, China and Korea. These plants are unbelievably popular in asia and especially Japan where there are whole nurseries that are devoted to nothing but hybridizing these wonderful spring bloomers (Japanese nurserymen seem to have a nursery singularly devoted to every plant). Ironically as underused as Chaenomeles are now they were widely used during the 19th century and as many plants do went out of favor over time. Left to their own accord they will reach an average height and width of 3-4′, however I keep mine trimmed on a yearly basis and maintain them at 18″.
Chaenomoles do fruit but are not the same type of Quince that are commonly used throughout the Mediterranean that is Cydonia oblonga. The fruit of Chaenomoles smells sweet but is quite bitter to taste. It can however be used as many bitter fruits to make marmalades and liquors. Here are some of my favorite cultivars.