Things are not All White – The Night Garden

We usually don’t want to see only one kind of plant, or one kind of person, when we look to a successful enterprise. This is true of my night garden.

Large hosta in bloom.

Sitting outside on a starry, warm night is one of my pleasures. When there is a slight breeze, it may even be possible to forget the odor of stale insect repellent and enjoy the scene. One problem –

We can’t see much at night, and it is a good practice to at least try, so that our brains can connect with our instincts and give us what we need to get a good night’s rest. There are hormones such as serotonin, which are released when we naturally experience nighttime’s arrival.

So don’t throw those switches just yet. Artificial lighting does not help. We may want to see bright red and yellow flowers that we so carefully placed in the spring. But we really don’t need to. Insects and garden denizens come out at night, and the light only serves to confuse and complicate their lives. (We wouldn’t want that, right?)

I wanted to see some plants during this darkening time. One solution was to create a grouping of plants that have either white (picatee) edging, or light-colored leaves or flowers, or  that open at night (moonflower vine) to make that pretty scene. The start of the crepuscular interval is important to give our brains, as aforementioned, the peace to end our busy day.

I had begun to work on my “white” garden with the above in mind. My white garden was focused actually on lighter-colored members. Chartreuse hosta, picatee sedum, phlox, lots of choices. At least at first.

After a few years, my white garden gave way to my favorite perennials, daylilies, with a series of blooms, leaving the Stella D’oro to rebloom all summer. Species hosta in the form of ‘Athena’ among them. I suppose I dropped the idea of a night-only garden in favor of what actually did well.

karl foerster grass 6-17-5032.JPG
Karl Foerster first bloom year

As in real life, the concept of an all-white congregate is sometimes distasteful and needs to give way to diversity. At the same time, diversity and progression of types give way to the idea of being green. My white garden is now mostly green. But I have made a change as well. I’ve installed a viburnum nudum, which is doing its sleep phase resting underneath the strappy, attractive leaves of its perennial companions, some daylilies. There is also a large Montauk daisy in this group.

Everyone should get along well. New plants, different cultivars, my curiosity will not abate. Once the viburnum emerges from its neighbors’ shadow, it will be the dominant occupant of this area. The daylilies will become the understory, with smaller hostas leading the charge. I have installed a Karl Foerster grass to give the area a tall border. Not to worry. There’s plenty of room to expand the area and still allow for the desired diversity.

The garden is no longer all-white, as is the majority of our current government here in the USA. When I see the garden with its greenery from where I sit at twilight. It is cheerful, green, hardy, and reliable. No need to worry about the color, or lack of it. That will come in time, as I work with the chronology of the members. Their survival depends on each other, just as people need each others’ uniqueness to make things better for all.

Now, all-white is actually boring. I believe all-green may be to some, but the textures, and interest will make up for any lack. Let’s be green, let’s not accept our all-white, somewhat one-sided leaders.

Our nation is diverse and powerful. Our country is made of greens also. We will prevail.


Click here for some night-time wildlife adventures!

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