Best of the bunch
●● Smoke Bush (Cotinus) THIS deciduous tree-like shrub offers a cloud of tiny purplepink flowers in late summer, which is where the name ‘smoke bush’ comes from, but it’s an all-round winner for much of the year because of its impressive oval purple leaves which turn a brilliant red in late autumn.
The plum-coloured smoke bush Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ makes an excellent backdrop for other flowering plants with contrasting colour blooms such as orange tulips. However, I think it’s best grown as a showy specimen shrub to show off its haze of flowers in June and its brilliant leaf colour in autumn.
The smoke bush will grow in any reasonable garden soil, but prefers full sun. Remove unwanted branches in spring.