Today I planted a small hedge of golden currant. If all goes well the shrubs will screen off an ugly view of the road and we will enjoy flowers scented like something between cloves and vanilla. If we are lucky we should start enjoying fruit within 3 years. Golden currant is not picky about soil type and shows heat, drought, juglone and shade tolerance. Ribes aureum is a native plant that grows almost everywhere in North America. Apparently bees and hummingbirds love the blossoms.
When I first discovered this plant in a reference book I wondered why I never saw it in people’s gardens here. I thought there must be some kind of drawback … maybe it requires more chill hours than we can expect … maybe it is super susceptible to fungi problems …
A lot of the information I found from internet sources was directly contradictory: some saying it ought to thrive while others said it was impossible to grow here.
So I contacted the master gardener’s program, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and even a local t.v. gardening show. Few of the local sources were familiar with the plant. None were able to tell me how it might perform in a garden setting. The only person who had an inkling was the guy who wrote back to me from the master gardener help line. He thought he might have seen it growing wild in a nearby town and encouraged me to give it a try.
I got the plants from the University of Idaho Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research. I would have preferred a local source but at this point I am feeling like some kind of reckless pioneer. I received the plants within 2 days of placing the order. The root systems were well developed and there were healthy leaf buds on the stems. I cannot recommend this service more highly. Plus, the price was most agreeable: $2.50 for 5 plants. No, that is not a typo. You can find their catalog here. They offer a nice selection of native plants.