Friday, January 15, 2010

When smokebush gets in your eyes

There is nothing like the look of Cotinus. Most people are familiar with the purple form because that is what they think of when they see into their minds eye. Silver dollar sized (the type of silver dollars we had when I was growing with President Eisenhower in the the face) foliage that looks like suede or painters velvet.

Cotinus coggygria 'Purpureus' was probably the most common form found in garden ceters for decades. It is nice, deep wine-like leaves with a plum cast. Not really something that gets me going, but a good background plant.

Cotinus c. 'Velvet Cloak' is a deep, dark, and lush variety that I use to stand out and create that darkspot with a garden. I like to use it next to Cornus a. 'Variegata' and creata a bit of mystery. Its not a plant I hide in the back thats for sure.

Cotinus c 'Grace' is such a unique for. the leaves are more translucant, it has great fall color, and it also seems to have some sort of metalic caast to it at times. No, not metalic in the fact that it is shiny, but next to something like Rosa glauca or Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa' it shows some sort of highlight there that the blue colors emphasizes. It's just wonderful. Cotinus Grace adn Rosa glauca are also a standard planting in most gardens in England it seems. Linda Beutler seemed to point this out when I was there with her a few summers back.

Cotinus c. 'Golden Spirit' syn. 'Ancot' with the yellow or acidy-chartreuse leaves with a touch of amber peaking through. Slower growing in my area, but I do put it out in full sun. I would like to plant a few more in an all gold area. The texture it gives is nothing short of incredible. Its also great in the mid boarder plantings because it is slower and to me a tad more dense. I was also told that this form does not flower- they lied. Soft pink infloresence that aren't as frothy, but do add to the unique look of the shrub.

Cotinus coggygria 'Pink Champagne' is a sweet form. Green leaved with a froth of pink that seems to fade cream. And froth doesn't quite cut what I am trying to express. The other unique feature I enjoy about this green leaved variety is the fact that it has an almost mauve color margin to the leaves, especially the new growth. The other thing I like about it is a nice display of fall foliage more in the amber and orange spectrum.

Here in high desert Cotinus make a wonderful addition to garden. They are heat resistant, do will in our winds, and after they are established they are moderately drought resistant (though will have smaller foliage.)

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