The blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries that we grow in our gardens are all derived from different wild species of Ribes. But, in all, there are around 150 different wild Ribes and others are also well worth growing including, of course, the flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum.
Now another species comes to the fore, R. odoratum (usually grown in gardens as R. aureum) and long prized for its attractive fragrant spring flowers. Two new varieties are being launched this autumn, ‘Black Gem’ and ‘Black Pearl’, both selected from several thousand seedlings for their combination of colorful flowers, fragrance, autumn foliage colour and, of course, high quality fruit. These four features give them the common name of Fourberry.
Developed in Switzerland by a family fruit nursery that began as long ago as 1889, their Lubera brand specialises in new fruit varieties of all kinds. Their RedLove apple was launched last year.
In April and early May, the distinctive yellow flowers of Fourberries hang along the length of the previous year’s branches in long strings. Each has a distinctive red ring around the centre of the flower and a delightful fragrance. In summer the black berries ripen, they can be eaten fresh or used for juice or in jam. Then, finally, in autumn the foliage turns vivid red. In today’s smaller gardens, any plant that brings us four separate features at different times of year by is especially valuable.
Both varieties reach 1.2-1.5m/4-5ft, ‘Black Gem’ has slightly smaller berries and ripens from the end of July to mid August while ‘Black Pearl, with its larger berries, ripens earlier, from mid July into early August. Grow both for the longest season.
You can buy Fourberry ‘Black Gem’ from Suttons, and you can buy Fourberry ‘Black Pearl from Dobies.