Home & Garden Gardening

How to Design an Evening Garden

  • 1). Take stock of your site: how much light you get, how much space you have and what surrounds it. Is there an unpleasant view you want to screen - say, an ugly shopping mall or a busy highway? Or does your site overlook a vista you'd like to frame - a tranquil lake, sparkling city lights, an ancient grove of trees?

  • 2). Think about how you'll use your garden. Will it be primarily a solo retreat from the hubbub of modern life, an outdoor room for entertaining guests or a combination of the two?

  • 3). Learn what plants will thrive in your growing conditions and look for design inspiration in garden books and magazines, at botanical gardens and, most of all, in other people's gardens.

  • 4). Sign up for local garden club tours that extend into the evening. Take notes and photographs, and ask questions - gardeners are known to be friendly, chatty and generous with their knowledge.

  • 5). When it's time to plant, keep the palette light - white flowers and those in very pale tints of pink or yellow will glow at dusk and into the darkness. Many white flowers pack a double wallop in the evening garden: they're often more fragrant than brightly colored (or even pastel) blooms. Some, such as nicotiana (flowering tobacco), release their intoxicating aromas only at dusk.

  • 6). Enclose your garden, at least partially, with a wall, fence or vine-covered trellis if you want to capture and intensify the fragrance of your flowers. (In the process you'll also gain privacy and vertical planting space.)

  • 7). Add water in some form - a small pool, a fountain, even a birdbath. It will provide a reflective surface for moonlight and starlight, its gentle sounds will lend a sense of tranquility to the scene and the extra moisture in the air will further intensify the scent of flowers.

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