Ribes – Flowering Currant
Common name: Ornamental currant
Following hard on the heels of the forsythia is the widely grown( ). A deciduous species with pink in clusters, it is native to North America and was introduced to European gardens in the early 19th century.
Popular species and varieties
While the species itself will provide a colourful show, it is the numerous named varieties that are the most popular. Among them are ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ (AGM), a widely available shrub, and ‘King Edward VII’, slow-growing and noted for its intense red flowers. It is worth searching for ‘Elk River Red’ and ‘White Icicle’, both names of which clearly describe the flower colours. Do not overlook ‘Brocklebankii’ (AGM), which grows to 1m (3ft) and has pink flowers with golden foliage. It is best in a lightly shaded spot, as it tends to burn in full sun. Its flowers are usually followed by black berries.
One evergreen member of this family, which created much interest when it was introduced from China in 1912 by Ernest Wilson, is Ribes laurifolium. It has large leathery leaves. The clusters of greenish-white flowers appear in mid-winter and are followed by red berries which slowly turn black if male and female forms are grown together. This is an ideal shrub for a sizeable rock garden, where it adds interest at a bleak time of the year
Soil type Most well-drained garden soils are suitable.
Planting All forms of Ribes are happy in sunny or lightly shaded spots. Planting can be carried out whenever conditions are suitable, between early autumn and early spring. Keep plants well watered in dry spells until they are fully established.
Pruning Cut back flowered shoots in early summer and remove old wood. Top-dress the ground around the base of the plants with well-rotted manure orin early spring.
Propagation Cuttings, either semi-ripe taken in late spring or early summer, or hardwood taken during mid-autumn, Propagate Ribes laurifolium with 7cm (3in) cuttings in September.
Pests and diseases Aphids can be a nuisance on new and young growth, but these are easily dealt with by using a suitable insecticide.