During the early summer, the hills that sweep down to the Mediterranean at the eastern end of the Pyrenees are covered in Cistus ladanifer. They thrive on the poor, rocky soil and the baking heat. The straggly growth of the species is great on a craggy hillside but just looks untidy in the garden, so in Britain I grow a neat and compact cultivar, C. ‘Paladin’. The fragile, tissue-paper flowers are ephemeral but plentiful. It has grown well in my garden for the last ten years but died in the wretched winter of 2010. I’ll plant more in the optimistic hope that we won’t see a winter like that for another decade.