In the Night Garden
With some careful planning and creativity, you can turn your outdoor space into a magical night time garden. There are so many plants that add not only fragrance, but colour and texture and many plants flower exclusively at night. Many more wait until evening to release their wonderful scents. White flowers and plants with variegated foliage glow softly as they reflect the moonlight. To those who work all day, an evening garden can be a peaceful refuge playing to your senses of smell, touch and even taste.
What Plants to use
Flowers that are pollinated by night-flying insects such as moths need first to be found by them. They signal their presence in two ways: by being pale in colour, so that they show up in low light; and by starting to pump out scent as dusk falls. These insects will, in turn, attract bats. Flowers that bloom white will capture the light of the moon and give an ethereal glow to your night garden. If you plant them in swathes or cascades that part of the garden will reflect moonlight in a truly magical way.
White Showy Flowers
Night-flowering Plants & Night-Fragrant Plants
- Evening Primroses – (Oenothera): are perennials with sweetly scented blossoms of soft white, pink and bright yellow that open each evening
- Night Phlox -(Zaluzianskya ovata): at dusk, flowers open to release a honey -almond-vanilla fragrance
- Evening Stock – (Matthiola incana): has small pink or purplish flowers that are not showy, but emit an intoxicating fragrance at night
- Flowering Tobacco – (Nicotiana): is a lovely annual with long, trumpet-like blooms valued for their intense evening fragrance
- Cottage Pink – (Dianthus): display shades of white ,through pink to red flowers smelling of cloves
- Honeysuckle – (Lonicera japonica)
Bright Foliage Plants
Plants with silver leaves or variegated patterns of green and white create an evening glow in the garden
- Lamb’s ears – (Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’): offers silver shimmer at night
- Hosta – (Hosta fortunei ‘albo-marginata’) – have white margins around large gray green leaves that present a glowing silhouette in the moonlight
- Silver artemesia – (Artemesia schmidtiana)
- Silver sage – (Salvia argentea)
Choose soft lighting that lends a gentle glow which doesn’t compete with the beauties of stars and moonlight. Consider solar lighting along pathways and around water features, lanterns hung from branches or set on tables, fairy lights draped on a gazebo or encircling the trunk of a tree. Candles add a soft flickering effect, try our Moroccan style tea-light holders for jewel-like colours.
Seating for your night garden is all about comfort, relaxation and leisurely conversation over glasses of wine. Think hammocks or swinging chairs, loungers with soft cushions, and footstools that can easily be pulled up to a lawn chair. Keep a basket full of light blankets handy in case the evening turns chilly.
The sound of cascading water in the garden and wood-chimes stirring gently in the evening breeze are soothing to the soul or plant trees that rustle in the wind.
As the sun goes down and the air is getting cooler no need to go back indoors ! What could be more pleasurable than sitting by the warmth of a fire bowl or chimenea and watch the flames flicker and dance in the evening shadows.
As sunset gives way to twilight, dusk and then night, our gardens become hunting and feeding grounds for the shy, secretive Nocturnal wildlife. If you have moths and other insects you’ll attract bats, if you have small mammals then owls may visit. If you live in the countryside and have large old trees you may be lucky enough to attract tawny owls – leave rotten trees or those with holes standing or consider putting up an owl box. Put up several bat boxes in different positions to provide roosting places for these fascinating creatures. If you’ve got the opportunity to include ‘bat bricks’ in a new build or renovation build – these provide great roosting sites for bats. Put some food out, if you do this regularly then mammals including hedgehogs will visit and eat slugs and snails as tasty treats! An area of long grasses and a pile of logs will give your new friends a refuge too! Create a pond to make your own mini-wetland, quite apart from the creatures that may come to live in it, others may find it to feed, drink and bathe.
When was the last time you visited your garden at night?