Chaenomeles speciosa- star of my winter garden.

I felt as though I had to write a post about this wonderful plant. Every year it starts flowering before Christmas and continues to flower for months until Spring is well and truly with us. Usually chaenomeles flowers in the spring, so why does mine start before Christmas, I thought the time had come to do a bit of research.

The flowers of Chaenomeles are usually orange/red but can be white or pink, according to the websites I have looked at, flowering in late winter or early spring. Mine flowers at the beginning of winter, so no help there.

A lot of varieties are 3 ft tall but some grow to 2 metres, mine is 2 metres at least, so this points it to be Chaenomeles speciosa, which also suckers and spreads, which mine has!

It also grows very well in heavy clay soil, I can agree with this as I have never improved the soil by the back door, it is just as the last people left it. Lots of leaves get trapped in there each winter so I suppose it has its own leaf mould mulch.

It is used a lot in Chinese  medicine to treat arthritis, I must find out more about this as I have arthritis in most of my joints by now. Who knows, maybe I could use part of the plant as pain relief.

I have read that more flowers are produced if the plant is grown trained to a wall, mine is! Also by pruning to flowering spurs, the plant can often flower earlier!!

I have also read that by wall taining them, the plant can flower throughout the year.

It would seem that unknowingly, I have caused the plant to flower earlier than usual by training it up the wall outside the back door. The framework is in place, but I prune the side shoots back a couple of times a year, simply to make it easier to walk along the path.

I have pruned it the same as you would an apple tree, cutting back to a couple of buds to form flowering spurs. I generally just cut away anything that sticks out from the wall.

It seems that ignorance was bliss when I first started tying it into some wires on the wall and then keeping it pruned tight back so that I had plenty of room for the path.

This is a different shrub which is by the garage. Up until this year it has only flowered in springtime. Last summer though, I felt it was becoming a bit of a tangled mess, so gave it a good prune. This is the result, flowering before New Year. Once again I had unwittingly given the plant a haircut, which has obviously made it flower earlier for the first time. This plant is 30 yrs old, the same as the one by the back door, but only a fraction of the size. I can see that I will have to start training this one as well so that I will have a lovely display in the future.

We are now having freezing temperatures at night time and still pretty cold during the day so I think this will stop more flower buds opening for a while. I just hope all my lovely flowers aren’t turned to brown when I look out this morning, it is still dark at the moment!

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16 Responses to Chaenomeles speciosa- star of my winter garden.

  1. Peter says:

    How interesting that you unwittingly did exactly what Chaenomeles needed to bloom early. It’s certainly a treat to see these beautiful flowers in the winter.

    • Pauline says:

      We have now had freezing temperatures for the past few days Peter, but the flowers are still surviving nicely, thank goodness.It was pure luck that made me prune the shrub tight to the wall, I’m so glad that I did!

  2. Cathy says:

    Oh well done on your research, Pauline – every year this plant amazed me when you showed it and now I understand why it flowers like it does, so well done for your unintentional maintenance routine too 😀

  3. snowbird says:

    This was an interesting read! Oh….indeed they are the queens of the garden! Just

  4. Denise says:

    Well done Pauline, you really found the answers in your research! There is often much more to plants than the information given in the gardening books. I love the texture of the chaenomeles flowers almost like they are made of wax.

    • Pauline says:

      I got there in the end didn’t I Denise, it was worth it! The whole plant has a Japanese look about it I think and the colour of the flowers goes very well with the colour of the house bricks.

  5. rusty duck says:

    I bought a very similar one last year having been envious of yours for quite some time. Looking to see if it is in bloom will be one of the (few!) things I shall look forward to on returning to the UK.

    • Pauline says:

      Will you be training it to a wall Jessica? You are having a wonderfully long trip, there will be lots waiting for you when you get back, my snowdrops and iris reticulata are way ahead of themselves, I hope they slow down in the cold spell we are having at the moment.

  6. Alistair says:

    Even in Aberdeen our Chaenomeles started to flower in Winter, now I know the reason. I just had a look at your page (About) I love your garden Pauline, reminded me of what we had in Aberdeen. We left because we were reaching three score and ten, thinking a smaller garden would be more sensible. We should never have done it, even if you get less able there is always ways around things. Have a great gardening year Alistair.

    • Pauline says:

      I had wondered about my Chaenomeles for quite some time Alistair, I’m glad I sorted it out.
      Thank you for your lovely comments about the garden, I’m now nearer 80 than 70 and unfortunately my husband died nearly 2 yrs ago. I now have someone to help one morning a week, but I know that if I can’t cope with the garden, then I will have to move, but I hope it won’t be for a few years yet.

  7. Diana Studer says:

    I miss mine. It used to bloom in July and light up our winter garden. Vivid coral flowers.

  8. debsgarden says:

    My Chaenomeles (pink-orange) was rescued from beneath masses of weeds on a bank when we moved here in 1985. Who knows how long the plant had survived on the bank! We divided and transplanted it to an area in our front garden. It always starts blooming in January and will continue for 2 or more months. I looked at it yesterday and it is covered with buds, though none are open yet. It is a great plant and definitely a hardy survivor!

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