Photo By: Above Photo by Saroj Sancheti/SPecial to the Town Crier Right photo Courtesy of Laxmi Natarajan
Mosaic tables, comfortable furniture and mood lighting, above, enhance the backyard ambience on a warm summer evening. Yarrow ‘Moonbeam’ can illuminate the garden at night.
Some of the best aspects of summer are the long, cool evenings; the clear, crisp air; the night sky adorned with twinkling stars; and the moonlight shining gently on the earth, lighting up the flora in the gardens with a magical and enchanted hue to bring it to life.
Spending time in the garden is therapeutic at all times, but in summer we have an extended time to enjoy it into the night as well. After a long day of work and chores, it is great to let your eyes adjust to the slight darkness, wander around a bit and have a place to settle down and relax.
Several easy-to-implement ideas can enhance this experience and make your garden a night star.
Adding the right kind of plants can make a garden glow at night. Some moonlit gardens shine in the evening because of the plants. Such gardens are full of plants that are pale in color, have lighter green-gray leaves or have white, pale-pink or other light-colored flowers. They boast plants that bloom at night and rely on fragrance to attract pollinators, as opposed to day-blooming plants that use color.
My all-time favorite night bloomers include Evening Primrose, with white, heart-shaped petals and a light, lemon/honeysuckle scent; Angel’s Trumpet; and Night Phlox, with its almond-vanilla-scented flowers.
Others to consider include Yucca filamentosa; silvery foliage like Artemesia; Stachys byzantine (Lambs ears), Yarrow ‘Moonbeam’; Jasmine vine, with its heavenly scented white flowers; Echeveria elegans; Euphorbia characias; different shades of hostas; Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’; and Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender).
Plants like the Climbing Hydrangea, with its stunning white flowers and leaves that change color from pink to gold to dark green, are shiny, reflective and great additions to moon gardens.
Appealing to the senses
The night garden often relies on appealing to all the senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Incorporate the following elements for a full sensory experience.
• Train spotlights on water features, statuaries and architectural elements like arbors, pagodas and arches to add to the nighttime splendor and provide a visual and auditory thrill to the beholder. The use of garden lighting, solar lights, simple lanterns or candle votives creates an inviting ambience to spend time with family and friends.
Landscape lighting today comes in all formats. Using spotlights, focal lights, path lighting and area lighting highlights and accentuate the garden’s features, makes it more accessible and allows you to entertain guests into the wee hours of the night.
• Adding comfortable seating and bright furniture like mosaic side tables, bistro tables, cushions and accessories can make the space welcoming and functional. If your yard gets summer wind, then create a sheltered area for sitting, keeping bug repellents like citronella candles and insect traps around the yard to protect from pesky bug bites. A heater or a coffee table with a fire pit adds extra warmth when you need it and provides a toasty place to gather as the night becomes cooler.
• Outdoor movie screens are making an appearance in many home gardens as families congregate to enjoy a movie in the garden.
• Install music streaming in the night garden via hidden outdoor speakers, available in different sizes, designs and price ranges, from simple to those embedded in fake rocks.
The sky is the limit, or rather the canvas against which you can set your garden scene this summer as you enjoy the mysterious and beautiful delights of the night garden.
Laxmi Natarajan, a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, is a garden and flora designer at Bagicha Garden & Flora Design. For more information, call 703-9756 or visit