Dwarf, or Prostrate
White Sageleaf Rockrose
"How could the rose have opened its heart
to bestow its beauty on the world?
It felt the encouragement of light."
The species Cistus salviifolius can grow two to three feet high with as much as a six feet spread, but the variant prostratus is only a foot high on average, with no reduction in its capacity to spread out to six feet. It is perfect for roadside gardens that get very little water.
Called Ladania ("Judgement of God") in Greece, this shrub is native of the whole Mediterranian region, & ranges from sea level to considerable heights, hence is adaptable to a number of zones for gardening.
It grows as far as Lebanon & is one of the species that is in the running for having been the specific species intended in the Bible's reference to the "Rose of Sharon" (see my essay on The Mythology of the Rose of Sharon).
Flowers consist of five white petals with yellow heart & yellow stamens. These begin in May, & are very numerous in June.
It is called the Sageleaf or Sage-leaved Rockrose because the narrow furry evergreen leaves resemble sage. The leaves have also been used as a dried herb mixed with oregano or marjoram.
This wide flat subshrub can form a densely matted groundcover. Because it remains so low-growing, bulbs can be planted with it, & we have a patch of Golden Garlic (Allium moly luteum) growing from out of ours.
It might prefer just a little sheltering in cooler climates to do its best, as winter winds in particular can be dessicating. Ours is on the street opposite a large 'Jean Marie de Montague' Rhododendron, which is one of the most sun-hardy of rhodies. "Jean Marie" leans above the prostrate rockrose, providing a sufficient windbreak.
It is hardy against mild frosts, maritime conditions, & a wide range of soil conditions though favoring a light poor soil. Its serious enemy is excessive moisture, so ours was planted on a hump that drains well in rainy seasons, & it is located on the furthest street of a sun-garden where it will not get too much water in summer.
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