Plant of the Week: Toyo-Nishiki Flowering Quince

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. This week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

The anticipation of spring may bring as much joy as its actual arrival. Likewise, the beauty of Chaenomeles 'Toyo-Nishiki' buds may surpass that of the flowers that follow. Just before this quince blooms, seams of white shine through the deep pink and pale green bud scales that encase the flowers. As lovely as the buds are, be wary of inspecting them too closely because Chaenomeles 'Toyo-Nishiki' bears formidable thorns. The flowers themselves are white or pink with a light fragrance. Opening earlier than most, these flowers provide much-needed food for emerging pollinators.

Chaenomeles is in the same family as apples and the fruits look similar. Some quinces are bred for their fruit, which is often turned into a sweet paste that compliments cheese. Though the fruits of Chaenomeles 'Toyo-Nishiki' are edible, it is prized for its flowers. In Japan, where this cultivar was originally introduced, it is frequently used for bonsai.

When allowed to reach its normal size of about eight feet, this multi-caned shrub works well as a screen or hedge. High Line gardeners give it a loose, fountain-like form that is more suitable to the naturalistic design of the park. To achieve this shape, gardeners prune immediately after flowering. Like most Chaenomeles, 'Toyo-Nishiki' suckers aggressively, which can divert energy away from established stems. Gardeners selectively remove suckers, taking out up to a third of the shrub each season.

On the High Line, Chaenomeles 'Toyo-Nishiki' offers just one of many signs that spring is just around the corner.

Chaenomeles 'Toyo-Nishiki' is a fairly easy garden plant. Prune after flowering and keep suckers in check.

Chelsea Thicket

Photos by Ayinde Listhrop.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.

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