Have Your Hedge and Eat It, Too
Hedges are great for borders that define a garden space or for creating a privacy barrier at the edge of the yard. But why not go a step further and grow an edible hedge? Currant and gooseberry shrubs, both members of the ribes genus, make excellent hedges and will provide an abundant supply of fruit to eat fresh or make into pies, jams, and jellies.
Plenty of Currants to Pick From
White, red, and black currant shrubs can be planted in a line to form an informal hedge or grouped to block an unattractive object like a utility box. They will grow to about 5 feet tall. Red currants are more flavorful for cooking, while white ones have lower acidity and are better for eating fresh. Other types have pale yellow or pink fruit. Black currants are banned in some states because they are an alternate host to white pine blister rust, although disease-resistant varieties are available.
A Prickly Subject: Gooseberries
Most gooseberry cultivars have thorns, so you'll need to wear gloves when picking the fruit. There are two basic types of gooseberries: American and European. American cultivars have the best disease resistance and include some that are less thorny. European types are more susceptible to disease, but have larger, sweeter fruit. Gooseberry shrubs generally grow to a height of 3 or 4 feet. Healthy plants may be productive for up to 20 years.
A Little Chill Helps
Most currants and gooseberries will grow throughout the transition zone, though they grow best where they get a bit of winter chill. Currants are hardy farther north than gooseberries.