We have a mature Cotinus coggygria just outside our back door. I am not certain of the cultivar but suspect it is 'Royal Purple'. It is a widely available shrub but is nevertheless impressive. The leaves are oval in shape and dark red or purple in colour. Mixed with suitable companions, such as the yellow leaved evergreen Choisya ternata 'Sundance' or perhaps Alchemilla mollis at its foot, the purple leaved forms of Cotinus add stature to the border.
Cotinus is a deciduous shrub that is late to come into leaf in the spring. The numerous tiny flowers that form billowing clusters give it its common name of 'smoke bush'. However, if you are happy to forgo these and have the courage to hard prune it, the Cotinus will produce much larger leaves.
What caught my eye this afternoon, however, is a particular quality of the Cotinus which provides an extra moment of micro-joy. This is when sunlight shines through the translucent leaves; its worth stopping a moment to have a look. At this time of year the leaves are turning from purple to autumnal flame-coloured hues. As I passed, on my way to fill up a watering can, I noticed the late afternoon sunlight radiating through the cotinus leaves. The effect at this time of year is accentuated.
The photographs from my phone don't quite capture the intensity of the experience but they might be enough to whet your appetite to stop and look should you happen to be passing a Cotinus bush one autumn afternoon when the sun is going down.