A Grand Operatic Threesome

img_1610In 2012 or thereabouts, before this blog was birthed, I bought a pretty ornamental quince from a car boot sale, Chaenomeles ‘Madam Butterfly’. Not long after it was removed from its original pot into one of the big planters on the paved area (sitooterie terrace?) I noticed there was a stem of the typical orangey red more common variety in bloom in the same pot and deduced that there must be a separate plant up close and personal to the operatic diva. When the shrub border came about they were removed from the pot, Madame Butterfly was un-entwined from her lover and they were planted at different ends of the border where they have been behaving themselves although sulking a little in the flower department.

img_8819The plot thickened after I pruned wayward crisscrossing stems from them both last weekend, keeping back one from the underling to put in my Monday vase. As well as a hint of green there were tiny swellings that suggested buds, and on Monday you could just see them beginning to swell. I was already getting suspicious, but as the week wore on it was quite clear that they were  going to resemble neither Madame Butterfly nor her paramour – because they were WHITE!

Not only were the flowers white, but flowers were opening all the way up the spiny stem, from the bottom…to the top…and all the stem and leaf joints inbetween:

 

operaDo take this as a recommendation to pick chaenomeles for a vase in future as it seems you can be confident of any flower buds opening. It does not, however, help me to work out quite where this virginal twig came from. When I prised the lovers apart I can’t be sure there wasn’t a third plant amongst them and I certainly wouldn’t have been looking for one so it would seem a little rude to be digging the diva’s lover up now and poking around his private bits. It may of course not be a clandestine relationship after all, but perhaps something to do with grafting a prettier variety onto a more common rootstock – whatever it is, the outcome is most attractive and proved to be a very pleasant surprise!

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37 Responses to A Grand Operatic Threesome

  1. johnvic8 says:

    Serendipity again. What would we do without it? Do you make jam with them?

    • Cathy says:

      The shrubs sre still small John and MB and the red one have not flowered regularly but I had a few quinces two years ago and made a couple of jars of jelly. I know in the US our jam is what is called ‘jelly’ so what is your equivalent of our UK jelly?

      • johnvic8 says:

        “Two nations separated by the same language.:)” We have both jam and jelly in our food stores. Jelly seems to have more pectin in it, and jam (at least for my taste) seems to spread more easily. Sorry, that’s not much help in answering your question.

        • Cathy says:

          Oh, yes, not much help! 😉 Here jam is made from the whole fruit, whereas with jelly the fruit is cooked and then strained (not sieved) before the sugar is added and it is boiled up, so the end result is clear and has no actual bits of fruit in it

  2. [J+D] What’s not to like about Japonica Quince (Chaenomales)!! Flowers on the bush when there are scarce any others to see – and beautiful flowers at that. Indispensible for winter arranging. And lastly the fruit – made into a jelly.

    • Cathy says:

      The only year (so far) that I had any quinces I did indeed make jelly – lovely colour! Until my replacement redcurrant starts fruiting I need all the alternatives I can get for jelly – mostly damson last year

  3. How incredible to get three for the price of one and so pretty Cathy

  4. Jim Stephens says:

    I should think ‘Madame Butterfly’ is a periclinal chimaera, with the outermost tissue layer giving rise to the white part of the flower, the rest producing the pink. Any bud arising from one layer only will flower solid white or pink. It may have arisen as a sport from an existing variety in which case either the white or pink is a reversion back to that original form.

    • Cathy says:

      Good grief Jim! I am certainly in no position to question this theory which sounds perfectly logical even to someone without the knowledge that you clearly have. Thank you so much for this information and I shall be watching both plants with interest if and when more buds open 😀

  5. Pauline says:

    Lucky you, getting a lovely white one for nothing!

  6. Ian Lumsden says:

    I’ve had precious little luck with quinces and now you get three for the price of one. It’s funny, I have several really expensive buys in the garden but it’s the bargains that one often likes the most.

  7. rusty duck says:

    Promiscuous aren’t they. Who knows what goes on in our gardens once we turn out the light..

  8. FlowerAlley says:

    Sneaky rootstock sprouts.
    I keep having to murder those on my dad’s fruit trees.

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    White, how unusual! I need to trim some of mine to bring in. I’ve brought in forsythia and fothergilla, fingers crossed.

  10. Christina says:

    Lucky you! is all I can say Cathy. The white is possibly the most beautiful of all.

  11. What a delightful puzzle, Cathy. The white one is very beautiful indeed.

  12. Chloris says:

    Three for the price of one, what a bargain.The white is lovely. I have never thought of sowing the seeds but that could be fun too.

  13. Don’t you just love that sort of surprise?!!

  14. Anna says:

    Not just a run of the mill BOGOF Cathy then 🙂 What a welcome and fascinating surprise whatever the reason behind it. Nature does indeed move in mysterious ways.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh yes, and every time I ramble past the shrub I am peering at it looking for other buds which so far seem to have been confined to the bit I cut off!

  15. Hoe hoe grow says:

    I love all three but ‘Madame Butterfly’ just tips the balance, as she is such a lovely soft pink. Although I love them I am pretty rubbish at growing them, and have never been really successful despite several attempts. Is there something I should know ???

  16. In my previous garden I had three Chaenomeles but am embarassed to admit I never cut any stems for a vase (can’t imagine why not). One was white (O Yashima) but the others were both my favorite peachy pink ‘Cameo’. I really do like that ‘Madame Butterfly’ though! Anything with a patterned petal inevitably has me at first stripe or splash, LOL

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