Ribes sanguineum

2 Apr

Anyone who has taken the time to look at my “what’s blooming” posts has to realize, I like Ribes sanguineum, lol. I have a bunch of cultivars, and a couple of “wild” types (though non of kind were salvaged, or even taken from cuttings of wild plants, so far as I know. But I do have a couple Of the straight species from Native Plant nurseries in the area.)

So, why do I love them so? Well, apart from the amazing floral display, right at the end of winter when the garden really needs that pick-me-up from the all too often grey drizzly days of late winter and early spring, and perfect timing for the emerging queen bumbles, early orchard masons, and not the least, returning Rufous Hummingbirds.

In fact, most years I can time the first sitings if Rufous to about a week or so after the first flowers emerge on the Red Flowering Currants. They are that consistent.

In late summer the berries are just as well liked by other birds, particularly chickadees and robins. The fruits are edible, but the taste is what is often referred to as “insipid” by folks who describe such things, an odd combination of cucumbers notes with the almost metallic, bitter aftertaste of pine. Not my favorite for gnoshing, lol.

Plus, for me at least they have proven in general easy to grow and not too hard to maintain. In general they like relatively dry soil, good drainage, though they don’t really want to dry out completely. Exposure can be anything from full shade to full on morning sun, though they might look a little scorched in too much afternoon sun by the end of the summer. They are a true native of the northwest woods, after all! I have never seen any need for fertilizer with these guys, so another way they are rather easy going. Just keep them away from wet feet, especially in winter. It will rot the roots right out from under them.

Ok, so a little tour of the ones I have, before the all too brief season is over.

‘Strybing Pink’

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Wild type 1-

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‘Pokey’s Pink’-

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It’s hard to tell from these two photos, but Pokey is a easily a shade darker than Strybing Pink.

Then there is the variegated one:
Ribes sanguineum ‘variegata’ (original, right? Not my fault! I didn’t name it!)

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It is a lovely thing in flower. Unfortunately the variegation is an increased yellowish stippling or mottling of the leaves over the course of the summer. All too often, it just looks diseased. Luckily, this one seems to be reverting, and I don’t care for the variegation enough to worry about it.

‘Appleblossom’-

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And a close up of the flowers so you can see the buds are a shade darker, for that apple blossom effect-

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Another of the wild type, straight species-

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This next one is a seedling that I left in place several years ago. It’s since gotten pretty big, in basically full shade, with nice medium to dark reddish pink flowers, entirely typical of the species. There isn’t really anything all that special about it, but it’s mine, and I like to refer to it by the name “Ace of Mercer”-

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It is a bit sprawly, but I like it, even though it’s kind of taking over the old nursery section. Oh well, anything there can handle the shade by now, lol. Again a close up of the flowers, kind of one shade darker than Pokey’s, but not so bright as the darker cultivars.

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The final one I have blooming is ‘Puslsborough Scarlet’-

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This one is about as red as it gets with these. None of them are truly “scarlet” or blood red (apparently in German they are called “blood currants”), but more of a light to very dark fuchsia pink. Absolutely lovely with daffodils, forsythia, and white cherries and plums. Just a very nice early spring flowering shrub. I wouldn’t want to garden without it!

And just for grins, it’s nearly as spectacular cousin, Ribes lobbii, the Fuchsia flowered gooseberry-

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