On one of my visits to the Wisley trials field last week I noticed that the new trial of flowering currants, Ribes sanguineum, had been planted. And, it being spring, they were all in flower. And some of them were already impressive. This ability to look good so soon after planting is a great virtue in small gardens; when you put in a new plant it’s a great bonus if it makes an impact straight away.
The three that were most impressive, at this very early stage of the trial, were three of the less familiar varieties – and they covered the full spectrum of colour. So often we see only ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ or ‘King Edward VII’ and it was refreshing to see so many others.
Perhaps the most striking on this occasion was ‘Tydeman’s White’. A lovely pure white, with just a little pink in the calyces, the flower clusters are well packed, they’re carried at every leaf joint, and arch downward elegantly to make a very attractive plant.
In a vivid pink shade was R. sanguineum ‘Koja’. One of the striking features of ‘Koja’, apart from the slightly cerise pink flower colour, was the fact that rather than arching fully downward the flower clusters tended to be held at a higher angle, farther away from the stems. So there was little chance of the foliage masking the display.
And finally the most strongly coloured of all, in a deep bright red, was ‘Red Pimpernel’. Rather upright in habit and with dark stems and a white eye to the flowers, ‘Red Pimpernel’ was also very prolific.
You’ll notice in the background of the picture that the soil is completely covered with landscape fabric. This serves two main purposes. It keeps weeds under control; weeding can be a huge task on such a large area so it saves time and allows the staff to give their attention to tasks which really need their skills. And secondly it helps conserve moisture.
Of course, it’s early days. Check back next April; after a year of growth it should be quite a spectacle.