The Teddington Gardener

Smoke

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Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple and Cordyline australis

I know that the Cotinus coggygria is commonly known as the Smoke Bush and have always liked the cloud-like seed heads that fluff around the stems and later roll over the ground like ghostly tumbleweed, or aerial frogspawn. But looking out through the back bedroom window earlier this week, mid-evening, the sun was lighting up both the white stalks of the cordyline flowers and the cotinus and it really did look, well, like proper smoke. 3-D, rolling, billowing smoke. Of course I had my camera with me (always!) and I hope some of this effect is captured in the picture above.

There are two smoke bushes in my garden, the purple-leaved Royal Purple and the green-leaved Flame. Both are in excess of 4m tall, a little gawky and prone to long bare lengths of stem before mops of leaves erupt. In fact there is a third specimen, in the tiny front garden, paddle-shaped purple leaves accosting passers-by as they manoeuvre between the street planted silver birch and my tiny plant sanctuary.

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