Quince one of the sweet fruits of autumn harvest

Quince one of the sweet parts of autumn harvest

Life & Style
Quinces are harvested in autumn and make beautiful jelly and paste. Propagate trees from seed or air layering.

Quinces are harvested in autumn and make beautiful jelly and paste. Propagate trees from seed or air layering.

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Fiona Ogilvie's gardening tips for this week.

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A long cool autumn has succeeded last season's atrocious summer. My dry and seemingly lifeless garden is suddenly bursting with colour from late roses, winter irises and scarlet and gold fallen leaves.

It's also bursting with weeds, another story. In a desperate attempt to get rid of a lethal Italian arum with arrow-shaped, showy, silver-veined leaves (A. italicum 'Pictum') that's so brilliant at lighting up a shady corner - until you wake up and realise it's lighting up most of the garden - I've been diligently digging it out.

If you first cut the huge leaves off at ground level you can then dig deep down under the roots, which you must do if you're to eliminate them. Like couch, comfrey and horseradish, any root left in the ground will re-sprout the minute your back's turned.

I'm composting the leaves but there's no way I'm risking the roots, so I tip them onto a sheet of plastic to dry, before having a cosy bonfire.

Autumn is quince time but if your quince trees, like mine, failed to set any fruit last summer due to the heat, greengrocers have them in stock now.

I have a mock quince tree, Cydonia (formerly Pseudocydonia) sinensis that has smooth-skinned, egg-shaped fruit but as I'd also love a true quince (Cydonia oblonga), I bought a couple of the knobbly, round fruit and am stratifying the seed prior to sowing in spring.

The large, black seeds are currently nestling in damp vermiculite in a ziplock plastic bag in the fridge and with any luck will have sprouted after three months, when I can plant them out, two to a pot.

I had a 100 per cent success rate with the mock quince seeds I propagated in this way a couple of years, ago so I'm hoping their knobby cousins will be as easy.

Quince trees can also be reproduced by air layering. This method takes about a year to produce a new plant, but I can't do it until spring.

Another good job for a quiet autumn day is transplanting unexpected seedlings. Several wattles (Acacia meansii, A. buxifolia, A. uncinata), a couple of coast rosemary bushes (Westringia) and a beautiful small snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) have sprung up in my paddock of native trees so I've separated the clusters and re-planted some of the seedlings where three years of drought had left bare patches.

I also plan to move some elderly roses this winter so I'm 'wrenching' them now by digging round each bush with a sharp spade to sever some of their roots. Wrenching should help to lessen transplant shock when I move them after their leaves have dropped, probably in about six weeks,.

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