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New blackcurrant with ornamental foliage

Purple foliage and tasty fruits make ‘Red ‘n’ Black’ the first dual-purpose blackcurrant

Currants usually come with colourful spring flowers and no edible fruits or with tasty and tangy berries but with ornamental qualities that are sadly lacking. Not any more.

Blackcurrant ‘Red ‘n’ Black’This new blackcurrant from Switzerland adds a long season of attractive foliage to a good crop of berries.

And as blackcurrants are one of the easiest fruits to grow, your fruit garden can now look far more attractive or you can pick berries for pies and summer desserts from an attractive foliage shrub.

In spring, the foliage opens in fresh green in the usual way but then develops amber tints and, as sunlight intensifies, the foliage turns rich purple, almost burgundy red, changing colour completely. The foliage is resistant to mildew and leaf spot so retains its good looks into the autumn.

The flowers and fruits develop on rather spreading growth. Cropping begins in mid July, so this is a medium-late variety, with up to seven berries per string each with a very sweet cassis aroma.

Markus Kobelt, the founder and breeder of Lubera and who developed ‘Red ‘n’ Black’, told me about it.

“We found the trait in an east European breeding programme,” he told me, “and have used it since in our own breeding. The quality of the blackcurrants is outstanding, very high sugar content, balanced aroma, and very sweet medium-sized fruits. Compared with our best cropping green leafed varieties ‘Blackbells’ and ‘Black Marble’ the crop is about 60% and about 70% of the RHS Award of Garden Merit winner ‘Big Ben’. Thanks to the mildew resistance the red leaves stay on the bushes till late autumn.”

I’m going to try it in a mixed border, and train yellow flowered canary creeper (Tropaeolum canariense) through it for some extra summer sparks.

You can order blackcurrant ‘Red ‘n’ Black’ from Lubera.

Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and do not constitute an endorsement by the RHS.

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