Creating an evening garden for the hot summer months

Tue, 06/03/2008 - 12:36pm
By: The Citizen

By Bonnie Helander
Fayette County Master Gardener

As school ends and summer sizzles, gardeners are busy creating lovely spaces for their family and friends to enjoy. You’ve been working hard, but are you able to fully experience the beauty and benefits of the outside space you are creating?
Many gardeners are disappointed to discover that their gardens are at their most glorious during the day when they are gone and cannot enjoy them. The perfect rose has finally bloomed and you are at work, carpooling children, running errands or you find it just too hot to venture outside. What is a gardener to do? By selecting a few plants that shine in the evening, you can create a spectacular moonlight garden.

Whatever you choose to call it – evening, after-six, moonlight or dream garden – choosing plants that reflect the light of the moon will give you the chance to enjoy your garden on your own terms. When work and chores are done, you can step outside and relax while relishing the sights and scents around you.

Before you begin a moonlight garden, take the time to study the moon’s path across your space to determine the best planting site to maximize the moon’s lighting. Or, you may simply choose to create your garden close to where you sit and relax. You can start small by planting an evening garden in containers on your deck. Dim and unobtrusive lighting including lanterns, solar-powered lights or candles can provide the same effect as moonlight.

After you determine the site of your evening garden, spend some time researching plants that provide night-time visibility. Your best bet is to choose plants with white and pale blooms. Some annuals that thrive in the evening are cleome, petunias, nicotiana and the moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba) – a cousin of the morning glory. Calla lilies, impatiens and hydrangeas with white or pale blooms can really add some pop.

Be sure to select plants that have attractive foliage. Pale and variegated leaves can stand out as well as blooms. Some plants to consider for their foliage are dusty miller, variegated caladium, hosta, elephant’s ears and licorice plant.

Plants can also be selected for their fragrance. Lavender, sage and other herbs make great additions to the moonlight garden for their soothing scents.

Remember that your evening garden plants must also thrive during the day, so select those that are appropriate for the space. Is your evening garden in full sun during the day? Then, you need to select plants that are appropriate for full sun. If your evening garden is in the shade during the day, select plants that thrive in the shade.

Now after a hard day, you can step outside in the cool of the evening, relax and relish the sights, sounds and scents of your garden under the moon. Ahhh!

For more information about plants that work well in an evening garden, contact the Fayette County Extension Office at 770-305-5412.

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