This spring, our chapter’s plant sale features Ribes, a popular genus for the garden that comprises the currants and gooseberries. Most of the species on offer grow natively in our county, which means they have high value for local wildlife. All provide early spring nectar for hummingbirds, and their berries are relished by cedar waxwings and other local birds. And they are so pretty!

These lovely currants and gooseberries are suitable for coastal gardens from shoreline to ridge top, as well as for Bay Area gardens. All are easy-going, fairly pest free, thrive in many different soils, and require little water. Only pink flowering currant likes moderate water; the rest are drought tolerant. Pink flowering currant and catalina current prefer some shade; the rest do well in sun or partial shade. They are all tolerant of pruning-but remember that blossoms grow on last season’s stems-and they are easy to grow from cuttings.

At the spring plant sale, you’ll find many showy cultivars and selections of the species I’ve mentioned. In fact, I purchased most of my Ribes at prior sales-and as you can guess, I have never regretted it.

Let me tell you about the ones in my garden and the conditions they prefer. There’s quite a wide variety of colors and forms among the species, and each has its own particular characteristics that suit different garden niches – maybe there’s a niche or two in your garden waiting for a nice currant bush.

Jackie Pascoe

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