This deciduous shrub has magnificent, dark red-purple oval leaves, that turn scarlet in autumn. In July and August, it is festooned with fluffy plumes of purplish-pink flowers that look like a haze of smoke. This is an eye-catching specimen plant for a sunny shrub or mixed border. The foliage, which appears almost translucent when backlit by the sun, is at its best when the plant has been pruned hard in March.
Garden care: In late winter or early spring remove any misplaced, diseased or crossing branches. Alternatively, to produce larger leaves, cut the stems back hard to within two or three buds of the base in early spring. After pruning apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant.