Cistus or rock rose is an extremely hardy evergreen shrub which requires minimal care and can stand full sunlight in summer. It blooms through spring and summer with open single flowers that last for no more than a day. The fallen blooms are quickly replaced by newly opened flowers. The shrubs require only light pruning and the wood, when cut, has a pleasant aromatic scent.
Originally from the Mediterranean, cistus was introduced to Australia just over 100 years ago. There is a belief that soldiers returning from Word War 1 brought seeds home with them. While this story has a definite appeal, there is evidence of the plants in Victoria by 1908 if not earlier.
I have two bushes in my garden. Cistus purpureus is a showy pink with yellow stamens and dark blotches at the base of the petals. This was planted about fifteen years ago and now stands at around 6’6” high.
The more modest Cistus salviifolius ‘Prostratus’ or Sage leaf rock rose is only three foot high but is about four foot across. It has small white flowers with yellow stamens and has been in bloom for about a month now with plenty more blooms to come. It is also known as the Gallipoli rose ‘Prostatus’. I have been unable to find any information on the origin of this alternate name. It may be that it was this particular variety of cistus that was introduced by returning soldiers but this is nothing more than a guess.
Although I do nothing other than water these plants a couple of times a week through the summer months, they thrive.