Gardening Guilt

I remember the morning I went to remove the Cistus. I was fully armed - sharp shovel, nippers, gumboots gleaming. My intentions were already documented in the early morning diary entry.

There was nothing more to be said! The Cistus was a boring shrub occupying a prime position - it had to go.

 Caught red-handed.
Burning the Evidence

I leant on my shovel and rationalised. The book had said that Cistus were short-lived. Just to be fair I would take cuttings, then the doomed parent plant would be chopped out and wheel-barrowed to the Hump. What else could it expect?

A Boring Shrub

I stared purposely at its nondescript not-green, not-blue, not-anything leaves. The Cistus looked very boring. It seemed resigned to its fate. The shovel twitched in my garden-gloved hand. The feeling of guilt started slowly, a small trickle. Then memories of mother-guilt flooded in - deliberately leaving a disorganised teenage son to sleep in, saying no to driving the same disorganised teenage son into town... I stared at the Cistus. Things were getting serious. I raced inside for a fortifying cup of coffee and reached for my favourite plant book.

Adaptable, Pleasant...

Things went from bad to worse. Cistus were 'adapted to hot, dry summers and cool wet winters', and 'the grey and green of their foliage made pleasant year-round cover in mild gardens'. I peeped at its title... 'Special Plants'. Oops...

 Growing well.
Pink Cistus Shrub

Mother-guilt turned into garden-guilt. Perhaps I'd pruned the Cistus at the wrong time, or perhaps it had flowered last summer, covered by pretty shell-pink blooms, and I'd had a momentary lapse of memory. The Cistus was perfect for the climate here, and worthy of its prime position. I could easily arrange a bit more sun, and it might enjoy a silver Astelia planted next door, to enhance its foliage...

The Cistus lives on, thanks to Jane Taylor's 'Special Plants', one of my favourite plant books.


A few months after this article was written Moosey snuck out into the garden with a determined look on her face. The Cistus, often mentioned but hardly ever photographed, has not been seen since...