Plant spe­cial­ist Keith Clout­ing, from Taver­ham Nurs­ery Cen­tre, brings you his guide to get­ting the best out of your gar­den

EDP Norfolk - - Gardening -

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

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