Currant Events in the Garden
The Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) begins to bloom just as Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum) is finishing up. Right now the Wild Currants are just loaded with dangling yellow flowers – more of a soft greenish yellow, as opposed to the bright yellow of Clove Currant. As with the Clove Currant, our Wild Currant plants seem to have more flowers than usual this spring.
I used to call these flowers chartreuse, but really they’re much closer to yellow, don’t you think?
Anyway, people who want to garden for wildlife (and who live where there is no prohibition on planting Currants and Gooseberries) should consider the Wild Currant. It offers early forage for both honeybees and native bees.
Birds like the purple berries. During the summer I enjoy watching Robins and Northern Cardinals hopping around the Wild Currant patch. The fruit ripens over a long period and is edible, but very tart.
Wild Currant is arguably the main understory plant in our Thicket Corner. It makes a nice patch that provides good cover for birds, but is generally about 3′-4′ tall. This shrub likes part shade and moist soil best, but I’ve found it to be pretty adaptable.
The leaves are shaped a bit like Maples and are a pleasant dark green. They have decent but not spectacular fall color.
Wild Currant will spread if you let it, but it’s not hard to control. The arching stems will touch the ground and then take root, plus the birds will poop the seeds around your garden.
This plant’s native range covers much of the northeast and midwest, extending as far as Wyoming.
It’s a hard plant to find, though. I got mine from Shooting Star Nursery in Kentucky, but they no longer do mail order. Do you have Wild Currant in your garden?