Recently a friend and I were lamenting the sad looking leaves on our Japanese maples. All of them, regardless of color and location had been singed by the summer heat. At this moment I said to her: “We could do so much better!”. It got me thinking and by the evening I had realized that my favorite shrubs/trees would be great substitutes in our too dry and too sunny sites. Cotinus come is so many shades these days that four already cohabit in our backyard.
This Cotinus Coggyra “old fashioned” is my favorite. I hope one day it will be the star of the blue/grey/pink border. It was purchased this spring in a gallon container at Millcreek Gardens for $12. The price was reasonable and even though the plant was small I decided to give it a go; good move.
Cotinus (or is it Cotini?) need water the first few years to get settled. I lost a “Golden Spirit” shrub to a too dry and too sunny spot. Thankfully Home Depot had one left on the 50% sale rack last weekend and it is now overwintering in its pot as an experiment.
The same friend that provided me with an instant cactus garden also passed on some of the reddest starts (Royal Purple maybe). His at around 8 years old are now so vigorous that he prunes them back by as much as five feet a year. My garden space being limited and precious I might keep mine as tall shrubs and not let them surpass 8 feet… all of this could be wishful thinking naturally, there is no guarantees when it comes to plants!
The purple Cotinus above receives little water and an inadequate amount of sunshine. The leaves show both the stress of drought (red edging) and the lack of sunshine (green tinge), however it will remain on this site as it made it through the heat of the summer and grew new foliage unlike “Golden Spirit” that faltered in the sunshine with little water.