White blooms, such as those on this Iceplant, pop beautifully at twilight.

White blooms, such as those on this Iceplant, pop beautifully at twilight.

If you’re like me, much of your best time in the garden is in the evening.  There are few things more refreshing and relaxing than catching a cool breeze and a drink after a long day at the office, running around doing errands, or caring for children.

Most of us, though, do our gardening primarily in the daylight and forget to take into account how our landscape is different at the end of the day.  Here are a few tips for improving your enjoyment of the evening garden:

Like wax candles, the long luminous blooms of Foxglove illuminate the dusk.

Like wax candles, the long luminous blooms of Foxglove illuminate the dusk.

  • Use Bright Flowers and Foliage.  In the lower light of evening (artificial or otherwise), high contrast between light and dark is key.  Pure white flowers (Shasta Daisy, Clematis, Gardenia, Foxglove, Iceplant, and so many more!) that serve mainly as accents in the daytime can easily be the stars of your moonlit garden.  Bright yellow flowers (Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susan, Cosmos, Marigold, Zinnia, and others) work nearly as well.  You should also consider using a mix of light and dark foliage.  Many variegated Hosta look even more amazing in low light than they do in the day.
  • Nicotiana attracts night pollinators while perfuming the garden.

    Nicotiana attracts night pollinators while perfuming the garden.

    Entertain Your Other Senses.  With less light to see by, your mind will start to place greater emphasis on your other senses.  Plant subtly fragrant flowers like Lavender to create a relaxing atmosphere, and accent it with the gentle rustling of ornamental grasses or the soothing sounds of a water feature.

    The majestic hawk moth is a frequent night visitor to Angel's Trumpets!

    The majestic hawk moth is a frequent night visitor to Angel’s Trumpets!

  • Welcome Night Pollinators. Many moths and other garden helpers feed at night, drawn primarily by the fragrance of flowers from Brugmansia and Nicotiana to Evening Primrose, 4 o’Clock, and Phlox.
  • Refresh Your Wilted Plants.  In the heat of the day, plants lose much of the water they take in through transpiration.  If they’re losing water through their leaves faster than their taking it in through their roots, they will eventually start to wilt.  Misting water over the leaves increases the humidity immediately around them, stopping transpiration and allowing the plant to catch back up.

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