The cistus, commonly known as rock or sun rose, is one of the classic coastal plants and we have several varieties in the garden. It is salt tolerant and being indigenous to the mediterranean thrives on thin, poor soil in full sun. They are evergreen shrubs and many have aromatic foliage. Some, including the parents of this plant, exude a scented gum called ladanum which was used in ancient times as incense, most notably in Crete and Cyprus. It is still used in the perfume industry today and is used as a replacement for ambergris, much to the relief of sperm whales. When in a happy place, after just a few years many become untidy and outgrow their position. There is mixed advice as to whether or not cistus will take a severe prune but if you don’t want to risk it they take easily from cuttings. We tend to propagate them on a regular basis so that when needs must we can replace an old woody straggler with a bright young plant.
This is the summer flowering Cistus x purpureus, a hybrid of C.creticus and C.ladanifer. The recent mild weather has prompted it to have another bash at blooming. It’s tissue paper petals only last for one day, but that day is glorious, especially in dreary late November.