WHEN CHIPMUNKS DEVOUR MY BLUEBERRIES, and robins plunder my raspberries, I can still depend on a substantial crop of white currants. Not only is this Ribes ‘Blanca’ generous with its pearls of juicy, tart sweetness — it is apparently off-limits to vandalizing varmints:
Just why birds, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, woodchucks and deer are not drawn to the blanca current is a matter of debate. My own theory is that the creatures can’t see the fruit, because it is nearly transparent when ripe.
The fruit is extremely ornamental through all stages of growth. Following May flowers, strands, or “strigs” of emerald berries drip from the shrub’s graceful twigs. The berries turn pale yellow in June, and then a shimmering, translucent shade of pearl in mid-July. When you can see tiny, dark seeds through the berries’ skin, you know the fruit is ready for picking.
Compared to blueberries, which require acidic soil, and raspberries, which demand considerable pruning, the blanca currant is an easy-going shrub. I give mine average soil (it prefers a neutral pH), full sun, moderate water, and a mulch of shredded, partially decomposed wood chips. These wood chips provide all the food the shrub needs (a fact which has been verified by Steven McKay, who is a nationally-recognized authority on all things currant-related). After harvesting, prune off any twigs which have born berries. This will make room for new fruiting stems.
Even a small garden can accommodate the shrub. Mine, after four years, is only 4 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. To my eyes it is a handsome sight when its grape-like leaves are present in spring, summer and early fall.
Can you possibly find room for this beautiful, productive plant in your own garden? It is hardy in zones 3-8.
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