This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The very name of the Japan Quince summons up the hopes of spring time in the fiery glow of the old scarlet. How its bloom warms and cheers and brightens the opening of the floral year. In its radiance we forget its many lovely varieties of both lighter, darker and richer tints; and more are coming. It is a parentage whose offspring show a wonderfully brilliant and varied bloom.
Out of curiosity, just before the war, I planted a, mixed lot of its seeds, from the old scarlet and pink, and the cherry-colored umbellatum. Their seedlings yielded six or seven different tints of bloom, all diverse from their parents, and unlike each other. One of them, of a dark crimson velvet tint, wears the finest tinge of bloom I ever saw. But, though growing in deep, rich soil, they took thirteen years to show the first flower. "Aye! there's the rub." Such a tardy reward to trial, disheartens us eager people. We tire of "patient waiting, " and seek novelty in that which absorbs less " hope deferred." I tried to hurry up their show by grafting my seedlings on the common Angiers Quince, but they would not mate. Perhaps some skilled propagator might have done better. But the stocks and scions, like other uncongenial natures, rebelled against the wedlock.
Is the Japan Quince a true Cydonia? If so, it don't take very kindly to its kindred. But now Mr. Strong has a new seedling of great vigor, on which he hopes the Pear may make a lusty growth and fruitage. If the Pear joys in the mating, surely we may look therein for a quicker growth and bloom of our Japan seedlings. Verily, "it's a consummation devoutly to be wished." It is a very pardonable impatience which longs in one's own day and generation to set eyes on blossoms bursting from seedlings of one's own planting and nurture.
I hope Mr. Strong's new Japan stock will follow up its promise and give us Pears vieing with the high quality which the Angiers Quince adds to their fruitage. There seems hardly a doubt that the new stock will prove so congenial to the Japan seedlings that thereon we may expect a more rapid growth and bloom. By the way, will Mr. Strong tell us whether this new stock makes fibrous roots? Of these the Japanese Quince has heretofore sadly lacked. Freedom from its suckering habit will help the welcome of the new stock. But perhaps, as in other plants, the growth of a tree instead of a bush above its roots will check their wide range and abridge the torment of the suckers. I hope all who have the old Japan plants will make trial of its seedlings. With skill and care a fine future is before it.
I look for this Quince to yet charm one's borders with as rich a range of tints and styles of flower as have extended to the Gladiolus tribe, from its old cornflag and pinkish-white varieties. This Quince has surely, in the pink and scarlet, and cherry, and the yellow tints of the olden varieties, a brighter hope of future rich and varied tints and forms of bloom than was warranted to trial out of the very tame colors of those old Gladioli.
The fruit too of the Japan Quince seems to promise present usefulness, and hope of betterment. Some years since a lady near by tried some of the umbellatums in the usual forms in which the common Quince is made into a sweetmeat. Both she, and friends who tasted her preserves, declared them excellent. If this be true the Japan Quince is likely to become "useful as well as ornamental." Why not? If the bitter Orange of Florida can be sent to us as a pleasant marmalade, surely this Quince, which is quite as fragrant and palatable, may in many forms add to our household dainties. There are more uses for things that grow than are dreamed of in the philosophy of most mortals. If " there is nothing new under the sun, " there are new uses found for the old every day.