Red-flowering Currants, Ribes sanguineum, are coming into their own right now in our garden and woodland border. This common and showy native shrub is a great choice for Pacific Northwest gardens. It’s rightly popular and I see it planted in many home landscapes around Bellingham and elsewhere in our region.
The first spring we lived on our current property we were excited to discover this single Red-flowering Currant bush at the edge of the lawn in the border with our woods. It was leaning over, nearly crowded out by the masses of Vine Maple behind it. Over the years I’ve done a little judicious editing in the border to help the currant thrive. This particular specimen has particularly nice deeply colored blossoms. Other plants will have flowers that are considerably more pale, tending toward pink. There are also occasional white-flowered forms found in the wild and one has been introduced to the horticultural trade as the cultivar ‘White Icicle.’
Since we like Red-flowering Currant a lot, we’ve planted several in sunny places around our property. The shrub above was started from a hardwood cutting in the fall a few years back and planted in its current home at the corner of our newish front yard native shrub and perennial bed about 3 years ago. It’s now looking very nice and full.
Ribes sanguineum is native to the west side of the Cascades from British Columbia down into California. It’s also known from Idaho, where it’s considered a rare plant.
Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to Red-flowering Currant blossoms, one of our earlier shrubs to bloom. They don’t have a strong smell, however, which I find a bit surprising. Later in the year they’ll have clusters of blue fruit. They’re edible, but insipid at best. We leave them for the birds.