Remarkably drought-resistant shrub, Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush), from central and southern Europe, is appealing twice a year: in June and July when its plumy, 6-8in flowers are reminiscent of pink smoke; and in fall when leaves are suffused with vibrant, fiery, or sunset hues. If you do not have sufficient border space for a Smoke Bush, set it in a large tub of tree and shrub compost and position it to form a statement on your patio or at the end of a path. Plant a pair of shrubs to frame the entrance to a wide driveway. It's very hardy and unaffected by cold winds. The green-leaved family excels in full sun or light shade, but purple-liveried varieties must have bright sunshine or their foliage will pale to insipid green. All prefer humus-rich soil enriched with bulky organic manure or well-rotted garden compost, but they will survive without stress on thin, sandy loam.
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