Creating harmony, simplicity and peace in the landscape......

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.

Gardening is an instrument of grace. " - May Sarton


Friday, May 18, 2012

'Smoke Bush' Steals the Show

The Smoke Bush rules in June and July!
 I planted a red-purple leaved variety of Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) in my small front yard years ago and it has been a stalwart eye catcher from the beginning. It makes the front of my house extra-ordinary in early summer.

'Royal Purple' Cotinus

As a result, I use the oval purple foliage of cotinus in many of my landscapes - it makes a great backdrop and can also be a sturdy specimen shrub...and it is DEER RESISTANT.

The Cotinus species is a rounded, bushy shrub that is happy and hardy wherever you plant it.  Known as Smoke Bush due to the 'smoke-like' appearance of its delicate flower clusters in summer,  it can even be adapted to a planter.

  Both the varieties of smoke bush - green with flowers and the red leaved variety  - are in this planter

The burgundy leaves of the 'Royal Purple' Smokebush deepen through the summer, turning a vibrant purple-red in fall, especially dramatic in full sun. Its colored leaves are its signature since 'Royal Purple' does not flower as reliably as the green leaved Smoke bush varieities.

Red leaved Smoke Bush with Japanese painted fern - a lovely combo.  Photo by Jan Johnsen

One reason you may not see Smoke Bush often is that it grows slowly and does not look like much when you first plant it. But after a few years, Smoke Bush comes into its own. Just give it a little time and do not be afraid to keep it in check by pruning down tall branches in late winter /early spring.  Aggresive pruning also ensures slightly larger leaves on a Smoke Bush!