Sunday, November 20, 2011

Goodnight sweet quince

Today I cut down my quince tree (which I apparently have no photos of, oh well).  I put it in spring before last, in great hopes of eventually getting a crop of this very useful fruit that hardly anyone plants.  Well, the reason hardly anyone plants it (and the Agricultural Research Service confirms this) is that it's very subject to fire blight, a nasty bacterial disease that (assuming you catch it in time) results in having to prune the tree back severely and unattractively (it's called the "ugly stub method" for a reason) with no guarantee that the leaf-blackening, tree-weakening menace won't come back.  My tree got it two years in a row; I did do the proper pruning to the best of my ability this summer (it's hard to prune eight inches below the point of evident disease when the branches aren't that long), but I suspect I would have to fight it off for many years to come, and I am just not willing to undergo that kind of battle.  It would probably also get cedar-quince rust, since there are Eastern red cedars in the area, not to mention a bunch of other things one has to spray for and I prefer not to.

In its place I planted the little serviceberry that's been languishing in a pot for too long; I hope it grows.  Serviceberry, being part of the same family as quince, apple, and pear, also can get fire blight, but it's not nearly as subject to it, and I did clean up very well when I pruned the quince, so bacteria shouldn't be lurking.  I should be able to do something with the berries if the birds don't eat them all, and I can buy quinces at a few places locally in the fall, if I have the urge to cook with them or make jam or chutney.

I also cleaned a lot of the rampant lamb's ear and Japanese honeysuckle out of the surrounding bed, which is slowly being converted from a congested perennial bed to a shrub bed with perennial edges, shared between neighbors.  (The serviceberry will be a shrub; it's got two stems now and wants to keep suckering at the bottom, so I'm going to let it.)  In the front of the bed, where I took out a bunch of deer-pruned daylilies to plant them on the Way Back Slope, I put in the rest of the daffodils along with three caryopteris and three amsonia (on sale from Park's), thus hopefully providing some unity to my usual "buy one of whatever I like" non-design method.  (Or otherwise acquire it.  The lilac there was a sucker from another plant, and the butterfly bush I grew from seed.)  When I'm done with the weeding I'll rake in most of the leaves fallen from the maple tree to smother winter weeds, and then turn my attention to whatever else I can get done in the back of the vegetable garden before full and honest winter.

Hopefully there will be pictures in the spring; they'd be pretty boring now.


  1. Murderer. I have a pot of orchids (enormously crowded leaves, no flowers) from Pop-pop sitting outside waiting for a frost, because it's a big pot and I can't dump the contents down the banking, they won't come out. I thinned the other big container I had, and planted some in two new pots, but I just don't have room for this one. Every time I catch sight of it, I have to repress the urge to go drag it back into the house....aaaarrrggghhhh, no, no, no!

  2. LOL, I know exactly the feeling. I hate killing plants, but sometimes there's just no other choice.