Toronto is known as “the city within a park”. Just about every resident lives with walking distance of a park, although most of these are not huge multi-acre swaths of land, but are little in-fill parkettes. Parkettes pop up in the middle of residential streets, and at one point, probably had houses on them. Now they are mostly home to swing sets, jungle gyms and a few benches.
The parkette closest to us, the place where we end up a couple of times a day while walking the dogs, has some landscaping along one side. It’s hard to tell if the city planted the bushes and shrubs or if they predate the park back to when there was a house on the property.
Last year, I joined a group of locals in cleaning up the park, as it regularly attracts crack dealers and hookers from the area. Underneath the hedges and shrubs, we came across a pair of quince bushes. The bushes were covered in vibrant scarlet flowers in spring, and piles of little green orbs in the summer.
Regular quinces grow on trees and get as big as apples. Quinces are, in fact, part of the same family that includes both apples and roses. But these were tiny fruit, about the size of crabapples. I had wondered if the fruit were edible, and a neighbour who is involved with the local horticultural society couldn’t tell me, but my Google-Fu told me that what we had stumbled across was an ornamental quince from Japan, appropriately known as a Japonica quince. Further Googling determined that not only were Japonica quinces edible, but they made awesome jam and jelly, because of the natural pectin.