Currant Anticipation

Golden Currant emerging foliage
Golden Currant emerging foliage & flower buds

We’re enjoying balmy mid-50s sunny afternoons this week as we turn the corner from winter to spring. It’s still too early for many of our native (or non-native) plants to be blooming, yet we can be fairly sure that a profusion of blossoms isn’t too far away.

Our garden includes four species of native currants. It’s too early for two of them to be showing any flower buds but the other two are preparing to put on quite a show.

At the top of the page is the new foliage of Golden Currant, Ribes aureum, with the earliest signs of flower buds just becoming visible. We planted two of these big shrubs, purchased a few years ago from the Yakima Conservation District plant sale, at the edge of one of our mostly-native shrub and flower beds. The plants have thrived here in Bellingham, even though they’re native east of the mountains, and are now taller than we are. When they come into bloom in a couple of weeks or so they’ll be covered with deep-throated golden yellow blossoms. In mid-summer we’ll have a modest crop of tasty fruit that will mostly go to the birds.

See more photos of Golden Currant on my wildflowers website.

Red-flowering Currant tight flower buds
Red-flowering Currant flower buds & emerging foliage

The second of our currants showing signs of blooming is Red-flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum. This species is common west of the mountains. In warmer places it’s already starting to bloom, but our woodland border is partly shaded so it’s a bit cooler and red-flowering current is slower to bloom here. The one I photographed has particularly nice deep red blossoms so we’ve cloned it via hardwood cuttings and now have several smaller shrubs growing at the edge of our woods and in our front shrub garden. As soon as they come into bloom I expect the hummingbirds will be all over them as they’re a good early season nectar source.

In a hurry to see it in bloom? Visit the Red-flowering Currant page on my wildflowers website.

Photo note:
both of these currants were photographed with my 100mm macro lens. One of the critical details with macro photography is paying attention to what’s in the background. I find it very helpful to use the depth of field preview to see what might become distracting at the f/stop I selected to keep more of the main subject in focus. The Golden Currant was shot at f/8 and the Red-flowering Currant at f/5.6.

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