The garden is alive with self-seeded wild cistus flowering all over the place. This makes me so happy as not only are they very pretty, they are what we named our house after and they had disappeared.
When we bought our plot of land in early 2008 it was a forest full of green oaks, tall pines, interesting rock structures and wild cistus. We would come and play or picnic in it while waiting for permission to build. It was natural and wild. Obviously we had to cut down many trees to build a house and the general damage to the land by diggers, concrete mixers and trucks was sad to see. I wondered at the time if it would ever recover.
Once the house was built we set about creating a garden and the idea was to try and get it back to as natural as possible, while incorporating some lawn to play on. We have planted hundreds of plants and replaced the huge trees with smaller prettier ones. But we never planted any cistus, and yet, five years after the construction began, the cistus are well and truly back. We have a slightly lazy attitude to weeding and don’t use any chemical products in the garden which has meant it has returned to how it was naturally, with the addition of all that we’ve planted of course. Like I said already, this makes me happy.
The arid, drought-prone landscape of Provence is typified by garrigue, a sort of low soft-leaved scrubland mainly composed of kermes oak, lavender, thyme, and white cistus with a few isolated trees. The white cistus (which produces pink flowers, the white refers to the downy texture of the leaves) is what we have flowering here in our garden in abundance, though there are two other types too. It is also known as Cistus Albidus, rock rose in English, ciste cotonneux or messugue in French and Messugo in Provençal. The word messugue is often used interchangeably with garrigue, refering to the general landscape. So the story comes full circle and we’re back to the name of our house: Lou (the) Messugo (cistus/typical Provençal landscape). And now you can see why I’m happy the messugo are back!
What’s growing in your garden right now? Do you have an association with a particular plant or a story to tell?