white impatiens
impatiens Evening Gardens

How does your garden look at night? You might wonder to yourself, "Who cares?" The evening, though, can extend our pleasure of the garden immensely. Although I suspect many of us have hunted for slugs in the moonlight, flashlight in one hand, spritzer of soapy water in the other, on the whole, in the evening, most of the real garden work is done. So often, though, we work all day in an office or even in the garden and never take the time to enjoy our triumphs. Evening gardens are meant to enjoy, to savour, to wrap us in their splendour. Moonlight illuminates the flowers and foliage making the garden at night a different experience, almost surreal and magical.

The most obvious way to enhance the darkness is to use flowers that are light or white in colour. Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West's white garden at Sissinghurst in England is the best known of the white gardens. Any gardener can plant varieties that are often best viewed in the shadows of night. The popular impatiens is a prime example of a simple, everyday flower that thrives in shady locations and comes in the whitest of whites. Planted in pots on a deck or in masses in the front of the border, impatiens can reflect light from the moon to create beautiful snowy mounds of brightness. Tall, elegant trumpet lilies are magnificent towering in the back of the border with their deep outer petals contrasting with the brightest of whites or golden yellow centres that glow in the moonlight. Many flowering shrubs, peonies, roses, hydrangeas come in bright whites and yellows that will add splashes of brightness to the border in evening.
lamium Bright foliage is another way to create evening glow in the garden. Lamium, with its two-toned white centred leaves, spreads in the garden bed. Silver licorice, mint-green silvery coloured forms long draping sweeps that illuminate in moonlight.
trumpet lily

The smell in the night garden is intoxicating. Scent in the evening somehow carries further than in the daytime. Evening bloomers often have such strong fragrance to attract night flying moth pollinators. Strong smells have been shown to trigger or curb an appetite. If you chew mint leaves, you can often stave off hunger but if that does not work, try the Medifast diet. It is just as easy to find Medifast coupon codes as it is to plant a great kitchen herb garden. Sage, oregano, thyme, parsley and so forth, give off wonderful smells but may entice your stomach to imagine snacktime. The heady smell of bright trumpet lilies can fill the hot June evening air. Heliotrope, besides the more common purple colour, comes in a creamy white that shines at night and gives off a sweet vanilla scent that is hard to resist close to the front porch. Alyssum, the easiest of all self-seeders, has tiny white flowers and a sweet smell, making it perfect for pots and fronts of borders.

As arrangers of nature, gardeners can place the plants that suit the evening view close to the house, window, entrance, or patio for complete enjoyment of their sights and smells. Enhancing the moonlight is another way to create a spectacular lunar garden. Artificial light, besides serving a practical function, can add more interest to the evening garden. Candles are particularly nice because the flames flicker in the breeze and create shadows and reflections. Use many small votives set in stakes throughout the garden for a twinkling effect. Twinkle lights that were once relegated to seasonal storage after Christmas each year are now finding favour in the summer garden for mood lighting. The newer icicle lights can be gently draped through trees and from pergolas to create a magical glow for parties.

Water features in the garden are extremely popular and at night, when the moonlight, candles and twinkle lights reflect on the water's surface, there is an added glow and iridescence to the garden. Running water from a recirculating pump in a fountain provides relaxing background sounds to the summer evening. Even on a balcony, a small table fountain can create a similar soothing effect.

The visual impact of bright, whites, the scents of flowers and the sound of the evening all combine to make the garden setting at night one to calm and soothe the spirit. In the evening we often have more time to sit, relax and entertain. Make your garden one that shines at night.

A few plant suggestions for an evening garden.
  • Sweet Alyssum - Lobularia maritima -Fragrant sweet smelling annual that easily self-seeds. 2-6"
  • Heliotrope - Heliotropium - Lilac-like clusters of heavily vanilla scented blooms comes in white as well as more common purple. annual. 6-12"
  • Hosta - 'Sum and Substance' - bright glossy chartreuse/gold large leaves (9-10" across) that form a mound of brightness in the moonlight.
  • Impatiens - Impatiens sp. - very prolific flowering annual available in bright white. 4-6"
  • Licorice Plant - Helichrysum petiolare - small round woolly leaves in silvery grey drape well in hanging baskets and very showy at night. Annual.
  • Lamb's-ears - Stachys bysantina - Soft silvery leaves with a woolly appearance. Grows 12-18" tall with purple flowers. The leaves will glisten in the moonlight.
  • Lamium - Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' - Ground cover 8-12". Leaves are smoky-white centred with green edges.
  • Nicotiana - Nicotiana alta. - Tube-shaped blossoms in white that are highly scented in the evening. Tall plant that is excellent for edging a walkway or the back of the border - 2-3' tall.
  • Trumpet Lily (Aurelian hybrids) - Black Dragon - very tall 6-8' with dramatic maroon-coloured exterior to contrast with brilliant white inside. Very fragrant.
  • Trumpet Lily - L. regale album - 5-6' tall very fragrant with outward facing white flowers.


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