This month I’ve chosen a shrub that really lights up the garden at this time of the year:
The vibrant orange and red of the autumn colour of this shrub really brings in some cheerfulness even on the gloomiest day. Plant it in a spot facing West to pick up the low rays of the autumn sun as it sets.
These plants are quite young and ultimately, if left to their own devices could reach twelve to fifteen feet tall or more. However, Cotinus respond well to hard annual pruning, producing larger leaves. Now that these ones are getting established I’ll be a bit mean to them in the Spring after the last frosts, cutting them right down. A Cotinus ‘Grace’ I’ve been treating this way springs up to about eight feet in a season and I may end up doing this biennially if these don’t respond quite so vigorously as the ‘Grace’.
The leaves are an attractive light green for the rest of the year and tiny flowers are borne in airy inflorescences which give Cotinus its common name of ‘Smoke Bush’. It does well on our clay and will be happy in most soils as long as they’re not sodden. Go on, give it a spot. It’ll cheer you up just as things are starting to get a bit soggy and depressing.