Brilliant but not blotchy helianthemum.

My heart was set on a Chocolate Blotch — it is a variety of the little shrub helianthemum. After browsing nurseries both local and online, I became 95% sure that the one I have growing at church is that type, not that the name made any sense.

These plants are a genus in in the family Cistaceae, as is the cistus, which I’m also fond of. They are both called rockrose, but that confuses me, so this is one case where I think I’ll stick to the botanical name.

Whatever its name, I couldn’t find one to buy. And I love the way it trails over the side of the half barrel as in this photo where it is way in the background behind the poppies and everything. I wanted one for my garden at home, but my hope dwindled and I cultivated contentment instead of a shrub.

Then when I was fussing over these church plantings recently I noticed that the plant with deep orange flowers was trying to take over the container, not just spreading its branches but sending down lots of new roots, so why not cut it in half and take some home?

I did that just before I got sick, and the clumps of roots sat in a bucket on my patio for several days. I knew they had to be planted before I went to Monterey, so on the eve of my departure I went crazy with pots and trowels and Supersoil.

There are two colors of flowers that cause pain to my sensibilities when they are planted near each other: orangey-red and fuschia. My backyard rhododendron is fuschia, but it is in a corner with only blues close by.

The deep clear orange of this shrub seemed to me just what I need to bring balance to the many places crowded with blues and lavenders, and it won’t confuse things by adding any red tones.

My color ideas are no doubt strange; my husband says that all the colors in nature go together. But one year I had some red-orange bulbs blooming next to the yellow climbing rose and when I looked out the window it seemed to me that the two plants were spoiling each other’s beauty. So I dug up the bulbs.

I trimmed the divisions of my helianthemum prize back quite a bit, and planted one clump in the middle of the lambs’ ears and pincushion flowers, next to the lavender and the oregano. Four Oriental lilies have now pushed up in the back of that bed, where it seemed a few weeks ago only one would grow; I had thought that I planted my big bag of bulbs from Costco so late that most of them must have rotted.

I wasn’t in too big a rush that I missed noticing that nasturtiums are coming up here and there, glory to God! Last year I tried various colors of many varieties, plants and seeds, hoping that some would naturalize.

As I was writing this post I looked some more for photos of “my” rockrose, and this time I found many more and helpful photos, broadening the possibilities to include Welsh Flame and Henfield Brilliant. A good photo explains why the name C. Blotch, and makes it clear that I don’t have that. After clicking back and forth among pictures and sites, I’m now 95% sure I have a Henfield Brilliant. This garden detective work is my kind of fun!

7 thoughts on “Brilliant but not blotchy helianthemum.

  1. I love your ideas about color combos. I have a bunch of upstart cosmos and sunflowers that don't do much for each other, but they are so hearty, I hate to interfere! Are you all well now?


  2. Beautiful! What an elegant bloom. You're a good detective! I'm wondering if this is also the plant that I recently saw in a friend's yard. Neither of us knew what it was. The leaf color and shape is the same. I'll have to check it out.


  3. I have uprooted brilliant red yarrow that clashed with more subtle colors in the greenhouse courtyard…and there are some potted orange geraniums that if not in a corner all their own I can't bear to have around. Cineraria plant themselves all over and some of the fuschia and darker ones get yanked unceremoniously because they are eye catchers rather than part of the smoothing flow of delight.

    Sweet post….may you keep cultivating contentment and may the birds, the breeze and the blog spread it abroad.


  4. Love your helianthemum and that orange is just what I love. I lean toward orange, yellow, reds. I was a bit bummed when I my other geranium started to bloom it it was pink, not scarlet as the tag said. Ugh. But I'm leaving it. To me, flowers all go together and all flowers are loved where summer is short.



  5. I love that orange — such a rich, warm color. I seem to have more bloomless than blooming shrubs, so whenever a flower appears I rejoice regardless of its color.


  6. Love all those colors – especially since everything here is brown now. Need rain! Isn't it amazing how much the amateur can learn on the internet?


  7. It's really hard to learn about flowers, wouldn't it be nice to have a system that could easily help you, deducing it by color, number of petals, etc. I've found some, but even those are sorted for regions and/or types of flowers (I have a book that helps me identify wildflowers…only).


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