Plant specialist Keith Clouting, from Taverham Nursery Centre, brings you his guide to getting the best out of your garden
Cotinus, or smoke bushes as they are commonly known, are one of the highlights of the autumn garden. Named smoke bushes after their fluffy panicles of flowers which cover the plant from summer onwards giving it a smokey-like appearance, for me they look even more striking at this time of year with their long lasting autumn colour.
One of the most popular varieties is Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’, a medium to large-sized deciduous shrub with stunning wine-purple foliage which turns a vibrant scarlet towards autumn. A larger, more vigorous selection is C.‘Grace’. In spring its broad oval leaves are green overlaid with red, turning a brilliant orangescarlet in autumn. If space is more limited, a more compact and free flowering variety is C. ‘Young Lady’, which covers itself in smokey-pink flowers in summer. Its green leaves colour up well with orange and red tints towards autumn.
Cotinus prefer soil on the well-drained side; they also perform best in full sun which gives them the best colour. Prune out any dead wood in spring - any long growths can be shortened
Cotinus Grace Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple in its autumnal colours
then as well. They are best given plenty of space to develop, but more mature plants can be coppiced for foliage at the expense of flowers. Cotinus combine well with late flowering perennials. They also look stunning when planted with grasses such as Miscanthus and Pennisetum.
Cotinus coggygria Royalal Purple