The variety arose as a sport on mother stock at Dunne's nursery L&K Dunne Nurseries in Naas, Kildare, four years ago.
The nursery's Kieran Dunne is excited about the prospects for his new Cistus: "It has all the attributes you would hope for in a good plant. It has season-round appeal with stunningly bright, variegated foliage retained through the winter when the stems develop a deep-purple colour."
The white flowers with a pronounced orange centre come at the end of May, and complement, rather than fight, with the variegation of the foliage. It tolerates a wide variety of conditions and is hardy down to -13 degsC.
Dunne said: "It's great to win the award, but what I'm really excited about is the genuine interest visitors from Ireland and the UK have been showing in the plant. It's the first time we've shown it here and it's really encouraging to get such a positive reaction."
Dunne is working with Graham Spencer of Plants for Europe and John Hedger of New Place Nurseries in West Sussex to develop the market for the plant in Europe and the UK.
A number of variegated Cistus cultivars have been introduced to the trade over the past 20 years, but their drawbacks have limited their garden appeal or commercial viability. Cistus x hybridus 'Little Miss Sunshine' seems to have the right attributes of a stable variegation that enhances the appeal of the foliage and a complementary flower colour to enable it to live up to its award-winning status.
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