It’s a Pleasure to Meet You, Young Lady

While touring one of several HPSO open gardens, I rounded a bend in the garden path and was delighted to be introduced to Cotinus coggygria ‘Young Lady’, a relatively new introduction from The Netherlands. Smaller in stature than many other smokebush, she was so covered in “smoke” that you could hardly see the bush! The garden’s chief steward said that she planted ‘Young Lady’ several years ago and has never pruned the structure of the shrub, just clipped off the many, many blooms (i.e., the “smoke”) after they were past their prime (bloom time is early summer to frost).

Several years ago in my garden, I planted a ‘Royal Purple’ smokebush for its purple and fall leaf color, which I love, and have always pruned to keep it a tidy size, sacrificing the frothy blooms. I didn’t get around to pruning it this year, however. Consequently, I have a little “smoke” but I also have bare bits of branches where no leaves or blooms sprouted. Needless to say, my ‘Royal Purple’ looks a bit awkward while ‘Young Lady’ looks sumptuous. (In the spirit of full disclosure, this ‘Young Lady’ was perfectly sited in the middle of a full sun garden bed; my Cotinus is in a much more crowded situation between a maturing Parrotia tree and a 10-foot tall mock-orange.) The ‘Young Lady’ was about six feet tall, though sources say she can get 8-10 feet. She blooms quite young—thus the name—and more abundantly than other cultivars. Good drainage is a must. Hardy in Zones 4-8.