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Hello, Roly. Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) love sun and well-drained soil. They are absolutely beautiful plants, though can get a bit tired by the time they have been around a few years, so it is a good ideas to take cuttings. They like slightly acidic soil but are OK on neutral soil, too. Your best bet is to dig a largeish planting hole and mixing the clay soil with some compost and coarse grit, so the soil is a bit more open and the drainage improves, though it may be that you don't get much rain anyway. Hope that helps.
They go pretty well in alkaline soil as well.
I want to put one of these in this year but need to make sure I put in the shrub that gets to about 150cm. My next door neighbours is huge and looking nice but would be too big for the area I want to put it and the low ground spreading ones would be too low.
Lucky you! I love the Luberon area. This is not a long term plant, it lasts a few years and then dies from the bottom up. Bear in mind the smaller the leaf the hardier the plant. The ground coverer 'Repens' spreads over everything. We had a little house in Roussillon/Apt for a short time but did a swop with our son when we became Great Grandaprents and were needed back in Wales. I planted one for him in Roussillon/Apt, as I love all blue flowers but he had to get an irrigation system installed as they go weeks without rain and then get an absolute downpour. Plants that grow well are Tamarix, Lavender, Rosemary, Iris, Syringa, and for hedging you can't beat the Elaegnus (Quicksilver) as the insignificant flowers give out a heavenly scent - watch for die back though and prune immediately. Brunneras, Heucheras, Perovskias, Achilleas, Knautias all do well in drought and Eryngiums look lovely planted with tall grasses as do the ground covering geraniums (Jackson's blue) and of course potted Pelargoniums are simply wonderful. We're visiting in May. Good luck.
You need BusyLizzie who is on this forum, but not here this weekend - she is very much a plantswoman and lives in the Dordogne
Hello, I'm back now. I live in Dordogne. I'm afraid I haven't had a lot of luck with Ceonothus. The winters can be very cold here and the ceonothus goes black and dies. The one I have had a long time is a deciduous one called "Gloire de Versailles". When it was -17° in February and we had snow for about 10 days it looked dead and my OH cut it back and it regrew. It's been fine this winter.
Ceonothus likes warmth, sunshine, a well drained soil and a sheltered spot. I think it would keep warmer in the ground rather than in a pot - if you have a sunny sheltered spot. But you will have to do something to improve the clay. Dig in compost and grit to lighten it up and improve the drainage. It doesn't like wet conditions either. Sometimes it can pour for days where I am.
The plants Pat Morris mentioned all grow well here.
Hi Buzy Lizzie, I changed my name to Lewis T as that is the name I use for most internet things. My P M name came from my email address and I didn't know that you could change it. I didn't realise the Dordogne was so wet, we often stay at Paunat with Robert in 'Le Moulin Neuf' an outstanding chambre D'hote, but our real love is the Luberon area. It's good to discuss garden problems with like minded people. Thanks.