J flew back from her latest pilgrimage to visit the MOWO near Mirkmere and is still between Quebec and the UK time-wise in her head … fortunately, it has been one of our rare hot and sunny days hereabouts and we have lazed about the garden watching birds and gathering some of the blackcurrant harvest. These are such a treat that I am prepared to put up with the sore back from bending and the multitude of mozzie bites necessary in their harvest.

Scenes from a summer garden:

A corner of the Blackcurrant plantation (Rosa rubrifolia beyond)

A corner of the Blackcurrant plantation (Rosa rubrifolia beyond)

Black beauties

Black beauties

The Parsley Patch .. slightly larger than two people need perhaps?

The Parsley Patch .. slightly larger than two people need perhaps?

Lilies (1)

Lilies (1)

Lilies (2)

Lilies (2)

Clmbing rose

Clmbing rose - Candian bred for harsh winters, needs no protection

Back to Blackcurrants.  There is a small commercial crop in Quebec (mostly on the Ile d’Orléans just north of Quebec city, but mostly the fruit is unknown or at least heard of but never tasted on this continent for reasons described below … apart from needing a personal supply, one feels a duty to bring the bushes back.

Blackcurrants were once popular in the United States as well, but became extremely rare in the 20th century after currant farming was banned in the early 1900s when blackcurrants, as a vector of white pine blister rust, were considered a threat to the U.S. logging industry. The federal ban on growing currants was shifted to individual states’ jurisdiction in 1966, and was lifted in New York State in 2003 through the efforts of horticulturist Greg Quinn. As a result, currant growing is making a comeback in New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon. However, several statewide bans still exist including Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since the federal ban ceased currant production anywhere in the U.S., the fruit is not well-known and has yet to reach the popularity that it had in 19th century United States or that it currently has in Europe. Since blackcurrants are a strong source of antioxidants and vitamins, awareness and popularity are once again growing, with a number of consumer products entering the market.