I hate santolinas

Shocking, I know. But I wish I could hate these plants. They exasperate me.

For drought-tolerant low maintenance plants, you find yourself spending more time than you imagined up to your arms in this oddly addictive scented shrub.

Every year up they spring, gorgeous and fluffy and ‘look at me’.

That lasts about three weeks. You glory in it all. So full of promise and looking magazine worthy in all the shots.

And then the flower buds appear.

You get about a fortnight watching them burst out and flower and then flop. You have to hack back hard to stop the weight of the flowers from ruining the neat ball.

If you get it right, you can create a proper neat shape.

Go away for a week and the whole structure collapses and looks hideous all summer.

And if you get a really good drought-stricken summer, they either die en masse, or look so sickly you have to avert your gaze.

Every autumn if I’m organised, or every winter if I’m not, I hack back. Again.

Really go at the things; hauling out handfuls of scratchy dead bits and large floppy dying branches.

‘Well, that’s it for these shrubs’, I say, year after year after year.

And so it goes.

They are absurdly gorgeous right now.

But I’m keeping a glaring eye on them. The first sign of wacky yellow flowers, I’ll swoop.

I forgive them all the grief they bring me. And of course I forgot that other spring task. If you make the mistake of taking cuttings… they root. Every Single One.

And then you get that gardener’s dilemma. Delight it has worked. Yay, free plants. But what on earth to do? ¬†You have a whole heap of little plants on your hands, so you are obliged to plant them out.

You can plant out a titchy ickle stick of a thing. Forget to water, accidentally tread on it a few times while you head somewhere else, wait two years. Then whoosh they leap into life.

And so it goes. Without much forethought you find they are the backbone of the Mediterranean garden and you wonder where all your spare time goes.

I wonder if they could make a santolina perfume? Or an inoculant.