I’m not sure whether we were distracted by the ravaged look of our Cotinus ‘Grace’ after such a harsh winter or whether it was another of those spring pruning procedures that was never carried out through lack of time, or maybe we just felt that after several years of hard pruning, the poor plant needed a break!
Truth be told we were a little thoughtless when we planted it originally; it’s on a corner where the drive meets the lane and is a favourite turning point of almost every vehicle that needs one! Not really enough room there for a smoke tree to reach its full potential: not until this year that is.
Cotinus ‘Grace’ is a deciduous bushy shrub or small tree. It’s perfectly hardy, fast growing and performs best in a sunny position. Ours kicks off towards the end of June, and is now bedecked with what looks likes candy floss in shades of pinkish purple. The overall effect is of a haze of smoke – giving it its common name. The leaves are a beautiful reddish purple and they become more intense as autumn advances. Without fail, it stops passers by in their tracks – and I mean all of them, not just the keen gardeners!
Here is a shrub that is versatile and forgiving; it can be left to get on with things, it can be lightly pruned annually or hard pruned every few years – this latter treatment will breathe new life into it, will keep it to a more manageable size if this is what you want, and the foliage will be bolder and brighter.
NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.
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