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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Blackcurrant ‘Big Ben’: new, and with huge berries

Posted by Graham Rice on 09 Aug 2010 at 12:07 PM

Blackcurrant,Big Ben,SCRI,Ben Lomond. Image: ©SCRI. All Rights Reserved.‘Big Ben’ is a breakthrough blackcurrant with many good qualities but one very special feature. The fruits are huge, far far larger than the fruits of other blackcurrants.

Most blackcurrant berries weigh in at about 1.1g, but the average weight for a ‘Big Ben’ berry is 2.9g – that’s almost three times the size. The result is that each mature plant can produce 4.5kg (10lb) of fruit ripening about eight to ten days before the well known ‘Ben Lomond’.

Mature bushes of ‘Big Ben’ develop a slightly arching habit – not because they’re weak, they’re not, the branches are strong but just grow that way. It makes the fruit easier to pick and allows the plants to be trained on wires more easily if that’s what you prefer.

Developed specially as a variety for eating fresh – most new blackcurrants are developed specifically for commercial juice production – the large fruits are shiny, with a strong skin and are relatively sweet. They’re ideal for eating fresh.

Also valuable is the fact that ‘Big Ben’ is resistant to both powdery mildew and leafspot so you won;t need to spray to control these diseases.

‘Big Ben’ blackcurrant was developed at the Scottish Crops Research Institute near Dundee. All their previous blackcurrants have been named for Scottish mountains - ‘Ben Lomond’, ‘Ben Hope’ etc – but the enormous berries of ‘Big Ben’ led to an adjustment to their naming theme this one time.

Blackcurrant ‘Big Ben’ is available from these RHS Plantfinder nurseries as well as Blackmoor Nurseries, Crocus, Garden Bargains and Suttons.

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