Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cistus psilosepalus

It’s a rare gardener who doesn’t at least occasionally feel a bit of that “the grass is greener" curiosity about plants we can’t typically grow well. The so-called rock roses, members of the genus Cistus, have caught my wandering eye occasionally over the years. Several trials in the past came to grief – quickly. Even sorts said to be hardy in zone 7 or zone 6 didn’t amount to anything.

Last fall at the plant exchange of our local rock garden group I spotted a non-descript little plant which no one else had yet claimed. Curious, I checked the label: a Cistus! I had space in the protected cold frame, and the Cistus seemed to be an ideal candidate for that spot. It took well to cold frame life, and throughout the winter slowly expanded.

I was pretty sure that I would finally be seeing a home-grown Cistus blooming here, and last week the first flower opened. This plant was received under the name Cistus psilosepalus, but I know nothing about these plants and can not vouch for the name. This is nice, but already I’m dissatisfied: I want one of the species with gummy, fragrant foliage. In the middle of winter it’s a pleasure to open the protected cold frame and be greeted by both color and scent.

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