Best of the bunch
Japanese quince (Chaenomeles)
These ornamental shrubs with spiny branches are often grown as wall shrubs and are really useful for brightening up shady spots with their red, pink and orange blooms.
The flowers unfurl on bare branches in February and are great for cutting and for Japanese planting schemes. Paleflowering cultivars blend better with other shrubs, while the more vivid types are more suited to walls. Some early varieties have yellowing fruits in autumn. Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Moerloosei’ is among the best, producing beautiful apple-blossom flowers in early spring.
These hardy shrubs will thrive in most soils and are easy to grow, but they do need cutting back immediately after flowering to stop them becoming untidy.