Showing posts with label Cotinus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cotinus. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Smoke Trees

One of the most popular posts on this blog has been the article on purple smoke trees (Cotinus coggygria, vars. 'Purple Robe,' 'Royal Purple,' and others). These trees are in bloom, covered in puffs of "smoke," right now all over Seattle. But did you know that smoke trees come in colors other than purple?

I recently had the good fortune of discovering a golden version of the smoke tree growing next to a purple one. I do not know the specific name of this cultivar, but 'Golden Spirit' (C. coggygria 'Ancot') is one seen often in the trade.

Here is a close-up of its stunning gold foliage, with a few small puffs of smoky bloom beginning to show. The chartreuse leaves have dark green veination, adding to the visual interest. This is a good plant to keep in mind when you are wanting to use foliage color as a design element.

This is a green form of Cotinus, possibly a variety called 'Pink Champagne.' The pink puffs are interesting, though this plant is certainly not as dramatic as the purple or gold versions.

All Cotinus varieties are drought tolerant and do best in poor, even rocky, soils. They are noted for their fall color, brilliant yellows through red-orange.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Smoke Trees

Smoke trees (Cotinus coggygria) are wonderful additions to small, urban gardens. They may eventually reach 25' in height, but can be pruned to stay much smaller. Typically, they are multi-stemmed, but can be trained to have a single trunk, as this one has.

Smoke trees come in both green and purple-leafed forms, but the purple seems most popular here in Seattle. Some cultivars have purple leaves in spring that gradually turn green over the summer. If you want plants that hold their purple color until fall, choose varieties like: 'Royal Purple' and 'Velvet Cloak.'

They are called "smoke" trees because as their flowers fade, they take on a fuzzy appearance that looks like puffs of smoke.
Here you can see a closeup of the tiny, yellow-green flowers and those gorgeous purple leaves. Later in summer, these flowers will take on that characteristic "smoky" look.

In addition to the dramatic flower display, smoke trees have stunning red-orange fall color. They are also drought tolerant, once established. They thrive in poor, rocky soil. And they come in colors other than purple, which you can read about in this post, More Smoke Trees.