'Royal Purple' smokebush is a popular landscape shrub with much to recommend it: autumn foliage colour, drought-tolerant when established and a smoky-appearing inflorescence, to name a few. Part of my reason for enjoying it is that it is in one of my favourite plant families, the Anacardiaceae, and is therefore related to mango, cashew and poison ivy (a plant I admire, but from a distance).
In local news, there is a lecture tonight (link includes event details) with Peter Valder. I met Peter when I was in Sydney a few years ago, and he's warm and funny – I expect his lecture will be very entertaining. If you get a chance to go, I do recommend it. Please also note that he is giving a different lecture on Thursday evening in Seattle (click on the link with his name).