Steve Bender

If you don’t, Grumpy will think less of you

It’s quite quirky, quaint, and quizzical. It’s quintessentially quince. You must have one for your garden. You must have one right now.

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is one of spring’s premier flowering shrubs. Even drop-outs from Doofus Academy can grow it. (I graduated with honors, by the way.) It comes in lots of different colors, but you only get one color per plant -- except for this one named ‘Toyo Nishiki.’ Blossoms on it may be pink, white, pink-and-white, or red and you get all of them from a single plant. Is this worth turning off those bloviating cretins on “The View” and rushing to the garden center to demand your ‘Toyo Nishiki’ this instant? You bet it is!

Know what else you get from ‘Toyo Nishiki’ (pronounced toy-o-nish-eek-ee) besides unscrupulous neighbors sneaking up at night to steal cuttings? Quinces. Yep, this bush produces lots of highly aromatic quince fruits good for making jelly. Quinces also make great slingshot ammo for dispatching annoying squirrels. Don’t feel guilty. They had it coming.

Steve Bender

Like pyracantha, spirea, pearl bush, deutzia, and some other old-fashioned shrubs, flowering quince is easy to grow and hard to kill. All it really needs is sun and well-drained soil. Leaf spot sometimes defoliates a plant by midsummer in rainy weather, but that doesn’t seem to faze it at all. It blooms just the same the following spring. Cut branches are perfect for forcing into early bloom indoors. For the most blooms outdoors, prune back the shrub by a third right after it finishes blooming in spring.

WATCH: Learn the Right Time to Prune

Unpruned, ‘Toyo Nishiki’ grows about 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Suckers sprout from around the base every year. To get a free plant, use a sharp spade to separate a sucker from the mother plant in fall or winter and replant it.

Don’t be querulous. Acquire this quince. There’s nothing quotidian about it.