I pictures ribbons of our native pink and white winter-flowering currant running through city and suburban gardens to nourish overwintering Anna's hummingbirds through the tail end of the cold season. And to welcome back the rufous hummingbirds as they arrive back in town, with sweet nectar.
Winter flowering currants (Ribes sanguineum) are every bit as pleasing to humans as to hummers, with their maple-shaped leaves and haze of little blooms that carry throughout the month of March, despite wind, hail and sideways-blowing rain. They're easily prunable, drought tolerant, grow six to eight feet tall, and are pretty enough to plant as a specimen. Winter flowering currants hold their own in mixed hedgerows, or work as deciduous hedging.
But if you have the space, plant a mass of winter flowering currant for full effect. I'm partial to the darkest pink one with flowers similar in color to classic quince, but they come in a paler pink (R. var glutinosum 'Claremont') and in pure white (R. sanguineum 'White Icicle') A garden sight I'll never forget is a hillside of white flowering currant on a dark, rainy day...an ethereal promise of springtime to come.
Happy Equinox, Happy First Day of Spring....