MY first visit to the island of Majorca was an eyeopener.
I was unaware that all their dairy products (milk, butter, and cheese) were made from goat's milk, all drinking water is imported, and their sausages are frankfurters.
The breakfast rashers were cut into slivers so thin that they came shrivelled and dry, and freshly baked morning bread goes rock hard by midday.
There were more surprises.
Most fresh fruit in the shops is imported (and decidedly expensive) and all vegetable purchases were weighed at the checkout.
Gardens, and garden outlets as you and I know them, were non-existent.
On the positive side, this island has an unequalled mountainous landscape on its northern flank, five of which are higher than Carrantwohill.
The road network is pot-hole free, motorways short but up to full European standards, and road rage is unknown.
Majorca is also an important sanctuary for birdlife and the two most common plants found in roadside gardens are the agave and sun roses (Cistus).
Cistuses are among the simplest, yet most exotic flowers I know.
This may be a contradiction but inspect one and you will know exactly what I mean.
Large, saucer-like blooms in a range of colours smother their wiry branches and appear to be made of crushed, paper-thin silk.
You might like to source a specimen for the months of summer and to help you in this I can think of a trio which will do extremely well in any open, sunny position blessed with fast draining soil.
Cistus 'Silver Pink' will grow and bloom at a height and spread of two feet, making, in the process, a shapely dark green mound.
On a steep bank or dangerously sloping ground it will be found quite at home, needing little, if any maintenance.
This variety and all others in the family are totally hardy and can be left in situ for long periods.
‘Silver, Pink’ boasts sparkling, three-inch clear pink blooms, each with a cluster of yellow stamens gleaming from their centre.
Individually they may be short-lived, but they are produced in such profusion that you will get a constant, eye-catching display throughout June and July.
Quite simply, this variety is gorgeous, the kind of plant which fills a gardener with hope.
Cistus Sunset is another to fulfil the dreams of anyone who admires bright cerise.
This very lovely, compact plant with sage-like, rather wavy leaves, topped with exquisite flowers, has a truly breath-taking effect. If you grow a generous clump of 'Sunset' it may indeed turn out to be your star attraction in the heat and light of summer.
If paler shades or the ultimate elegance of white are to your liking then the chameleon of the cistus world, Cistus x corbariensis is the one to choose.
This variety has large, crimson-tinted buds, which change as they open to pure white whilst retaining a trace of yellow in the central base.