How to Pick the Right Plants to Showcase Your Trees

Your garden or yard will look beautiful if you place the right plants in the right places. Plants that are grown alongside your trees will make your trees pop. Here is a recipe for success for showcasing Smokebush in the yard.

Your garden or yard will look beautiful if you place the right plants in the right places. Plants that are grown alongside your trees will make your trees pop. Here’s how to make Smokebush look great in your garden. Caleb Melchior has written a guest blog.

How to avoid a black hole with Smokebush

The sultry leaves of purple smokebushes ( Cotinus Coggygria Atropurpurea Group ) are clearly visible in well-lit photographs. They glow from within when backlit, highlighting the beautiful blooms in front. These glories are rare in most home gardens. Smokebushes are introduced with good intentions but remain blah, without a constant backlight that will make them glow. They’re just giant blobs sucking the color from everything around them.

Golden Spirit smokebush, known as ‘Ancot’ (C.c. Golden Spirit; USDA Zones 5 to 8), has the same fantastic orbicular foliage and easy-going personality as other cultivars. Instead of the muddy burgundy and purple colors, its leaves are bright gold, tinted lime in Spring.

Select the right plants to avoid the black hole, including the smokebush cultivar that will shine all summer—Golden Spirit smokebush (C. Golden Spirit (or ‘Ancot; USDA Zones 5 to 8) has orbicular, easy-going leaves. Instead of the muddy purple-burgundy colors, the leaves are bright gold-tinted lime green in Spring. In the fall, they turn copper and crimson. The shrub is a densely-foliaged, upright, sturdy plant that grows four to six feet tall and slightly less wide. It requires moist soil and a little grooming to remove sunburned leaves.

Golden Spirit will grow best in partial shade. Could you not allow it to dry out? The plant will grow in full sunlight, but the foliage will turn yellow during hot months. It will increase the largest and most colorful leaves with consistently moist soil. If you let it grow independently, it will have an awkward habit. Prune it hard in late Spring to get the best shape and leaves.

Three Ideal Companions

For a spring complement, incorporate a few tulips into your bulb palette. Try ‘Ballerina,’ a lily-flowered, elegant cultivar, and ‘Purple Dream,’ a lily-flowering, elegant cultivar, in Zones 3-8. Their flowers are the color of crushed violets or mandarins. These tall (18 to 24-inch) cultivars will last for many seasons without needing to be replaced.

Armenian cranesbill can be planted in the space left by the tulips. Its shrill magenta flowers will contrast with the striking black-purple eye of the Smokebush. It spreads out in a mounding form, two to three feet across. The more rambling stems of this plant will reach the lower branches of Smokebush and adorn the leaves with magenta dots.

In autumn, mass some clumps (Aconitum carmichaelii “Arendsii”; Zones 3-7) directly in front of the Smokebush. It blooms later than other monkshood varieties, erupting into nine-inch wands with helmet-shaped flowers on two-foot stems just as the foliage of the Smokebush turns to fire in September. Monkshoods’ pure violet-blue leaves contrast with the smokebushs’ crimson and copper fall foliage, making this corner of your garden look as bright as a supernova.

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