Cotinus (smoke bush) autumn leaves

A Last Blaze of Colour

I took these photographs in my front garden just a couple of weeks ago. It already feels like a long time since we had such rich colours. These glowing leaves belong to a smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) which has been positioned to allow us to see the evening sun shine through its branches.

During the summer the leaves are a striking deep purple. Autumn changes them to the glorious mix of reds, oranges and yellows that you see here. For a little while, this large shrub almost looked as if it had burst into flames. (Appropriate, I think, for a ‘Smoke Bush’!)

This was the last of the really warm colours as the garden is taken over by winter. The leaves on this smoke bush have now faded to a soft brownish yellow and will probably soon be blown away by the wind. But for this one shrub, there was a spectacularly fiery finale to it’s year.

Cotinus (smoke bush) autumn leaves

29 thoughts on “A Last Blaze of Colour

  1. The colours are lovely Ann and the leaves are beautiful lit up like that! Probably my next post will be purple-leaved smoke bush, I’ve prepped the images but not yet done the post 🙂 I’ll try and remember to put a link thru to your post, your photos are wonderful!

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    1. Thanks Liz! I’ll look forward to seeing your pictures. 🙂 It’s such a lovely plant in summer too and even has a bird’s nest in it, so they must have liked it too!

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  2. The colors you’ve shown here remind me of our sumac, as well as our Chinese tallow trees. They provide that same mix of red, orange, and yellow; too bad the tallows are so terribly invasive and destructive of the environment.

    I especially like the markings on the red leaves in the second photo. They almost look like Chinese or Japanese characters: at least, to the degree that they appear to have been brushed on with black ink.

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    1. There was a sumac further down the road but it must have been taken down a while ago – it was starting to spread quite a bit!
      The markings on the smoke bush are interesting on the front of the leaf too. (I just photographed the reverse to get the light shining through.) The leaves often develop brown patches between the veins and these can give quite a patterned effect. I think I have photographs of this for another smoke bush post with the leaves throughout the year…must remember to photograph the flowers next year!

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    1. The leaves are lovely in the evening and we can see them from our sitting-room windows as the setting sun shines through. 🙂 It gives us a bit of privacy too, so it’s doing a grand job!

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    1. I really recommend it as a great plant through the whole year. There’s more than one purple form, with different sizes, and there’s yellow or green-leaved cultivars too. They’re very easy to grow too. 🙂

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  3. A neighbor has a large mature Smoke Bush and I have seen the golden leaf colors at the end of summer but not the reds that are very warm and remindful of our Staghorn Sumac which grows all over here, including our yard. They are a bit aggressive and we fight to keep them out of the vegetable garden. Seeing yours with the red leaves makes me think we should add one to our yard.

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    1. It’s great as a large shrub/small tree that doesn’t get too big. Our is about 10ft. tall so far and should get bigger but not huge. (They vary in size.) They do look good almost all year round. 🙂

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