Medlars Mesplius germanica
Many years ago we visited The Cloisters, which house the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of art and architecture from medieval Europe. There's a courtyard garden there with lovely small trees. We asked one of the gardeners what they were and he replied 'quinces'.
When we moved to our present home from a townhouse, we finally had enough room to plant trees. I immediately thought of the 'quince' the gardener mentioned. After looking through several catalogs, I decided to buy the biggest fruited and leaved plant of Cydonia oblonga the quince. They didn't quite look like the trees at the Cloisters but I was hoping it was only because of the way the photos were taken. Well wishing or hoping doesn't make it so. Here's a nice picture of a quince.
The quince was absolutely not the tree at the Cloisters. Further, even if the description of the plants in the catalog said they were pest free, that was absolutely not the case. Aphids attacked the early tender leaves and powdery mildew stunted the tree.
A couple of months ago while searching for other trees on online nurseries, I spotted a tree that looked like the ones at the Cloister. Medlar. Mespilus germanica. I excitedly did a Google image search and was even more convinced that this was indeed the long sought after tree. My suspicions were confirmed by a post a few weeks ago on the Gardenweb forums when someone posted that they had a brochure about the courtyard garden of The Cloisters, mentioning the Medlar trees planted there. Aha! Apparently most people plant the tree for its fruit and it's sold as such, the fruit which then has to be bletted-fruit picked and left to ripen until soft and sort of fermented. Another fruit that needs to be bletted is the persimmon which would be too astringent to eat otherwise. Many people were so disappointed with the fruit that they wanted to get rid of the tree. Interesting that they don't look at the tree as an ornamental, a way it is obviously used at The Cloisters. To the credit of the gardener at the Cloisters, the Medlar is related to the quince. He may have been confused by the quince-like look of the tree.
I immediately ordered one from Edible Landscaping and I am eagerly awaiting its delivery in April. Raintree Nursery also has them but I bought from Edible Landscaping because they are closer to me, shipping from Virginia instead of the West coast. Raintree does have more varieties though. Finally the long search is over.
Here's a photo of some primroses waiting to be planted that we picked up very cheaply at a supermarket . We usually buy primroses to add some color in the house. A couple of years ago when they stopped blooming, we thought, what the heck why don't we plant them outside, maybe it will bloom again before the winter. Well they didn't bloom again and we thought the plants were dead when winter arrived but in spring we were greeted with colorful flowers once again. So now we enjoy the flowers in the house and again outside in spring. The plants originally planted about 3 years ago are still alive. These are just the common primroses sold everywhere in the spring.