Wereham Sign Gary Trouton

Passionate About Plants

March 2009

Paul recommends some flowering shrubs for Pump gardeners

March Flowering Shrubs

Flowering Currants

After one of the coldest winters for a long time its good to see the early signs of spring appearing in the garden. There are a lot of early spring flowering shrubs available to brighten up your shrub borders, but one species seems to be out of fashion at this moment in time, it is the old fashioned flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). There are, however, a few new varieties well worth searching out.

Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle'

This a much improved form of album with extremely large racemes of pure white flowers which open early in the season, this variety got the award of garden merit in 2002, it is not readily available in garden centres due to its shyness of root in the propagation unit.

Ribes x gordonianum

This is a hybrid between Ribes odoratum and sanguineum. This is an extremely hardy, vigorous and rather pleasing shrub intermediate in habit between its parents. It is the unusual combination of deep red flower buds, opening yellow, flushed with red at their base. From a distance the overall flower colour appears orange. This is a very distinct and unusual variety.

Ribes odoratum

This bright yellow flowering variety is also known as the buffalo currant. Although of weak constitution it is well worth growing as the bright yellow flowers which appear in April are lightly scented.

Ribes laurifolium

Not all flowering currants are deciduous. This variety is a dwarf evergreen shrub with large narrow leathery elliptic leaves and drooping greenish white flowers appearing February / March. The variety Mrs Amy Doncaster has smaller leaves and yellow / greenish white flowers.

Ribes sanguineum 'Brocklebankii'

This small slow growing shrub with golden yellow leaves and pink flowers can be a real gem when grown well; unfortunately it tends to burn in full sun. However when grown in shade it becomes a pale green so the correct sighting is vitally important. Due to the difficulty in growing this Ribes not many nurserymen stock it or even attempt to grow it.

In general they all grow well in ordinary garden soil and the green leafed varieties will take full sun or partial shade. Flowering is more colourful and profuse in sunny sights. Pruning out old wood after flowering keeps the shrubs growing vigorously and provides plenty of the one year old wood on which the largest flowering clusters are produced, while Ribes is mostly used in mixed shrub borders sanguineum cultivars make excellent hedges. Branches can be cut in February and March to flower indoors in water, but the cut stems give off the characteristic currant smell usually connected with the fruiting Blackcurrant, a close relative.

It is relatively pest free, although aphids may infest the leaves from time to time. As the plant gets older and less vigorous it can become prone to die back and leaf spots may occur. Straggly or untidy specimens may be hard pruned immediately after pruning. We tend to propagate by hard wood cuttings in the Autumn.

Happy Gardening.

Quaymount Nurseries,

The Row,


01366 500691.

Paul Markwell

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