Mid­night Re­treat

Mys­ti­cal and mes­meris­ing, a well thought-out and prop­erly de­signed night gar­den has an ap­peal of its own, says hor­ti­cul­tur­ist SATISH MATHUR

India Today - - HOME GARDENING -

How does your gar­den look at night? Is it just an­other patch of green en­gulfed in dark­ness or it is an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent ex­panse washed in soft moon­light and ac­cen­tu­ated with ar­ti­fi­cial lights, like a mag­i­cal haven. Most gar­den­ing en­thu­si­asts agree that a gar­den at night brings out a new, fas­ci­nat­ing facet of the day gar­den, which is hard to miss. Flow­ers and fo­liage, be­sides ar­ti­fi­cial il­lu­mi­nat­ing tech­niques, are the key el­e­ments when set­ting up a night gar­den. With a lit­tle cre­ativ­ity, ju­di­cious use of lights and care­ful se­lec­tion of plants, one can turn the space into a charm­ing patch.

FLO­RAL FAN­TASY

These gar­dens are planted with a fo­cus on flow­ers and fo­liage which re­flect the soft lights of the night and are usu­ally scented. Apart from plants which help in cre­at­ing a moon­lit gar­den, peb­bles, gravel and white coloured boul­ders are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar. Paving the path­ways or cre­at­ing in­ter­est­ing paving de­signs with

mar­ble tiles is also de­sir­able. Plants with a pro­fu­sion of white flow­ers, such as shrubs of vary­ing heights, climbers trained on a wall or an ar­bor, and bul­bous plants, are the high­lights of night blooms. A nat­u­ral plant, Nyc­tan­thes, pop­u­larly known as Hars­ing­har, which has small and at­trac­tive flow­ers, white petals and an orange- coloured tube is an at­trac­tive ad­di­tion. Some other plants with white blooms one can plant in­clude, Bauhinia acumi­nata, which is a widely grown hardy plant with snow white­coloured flow­ers; Spireas acumi­nate, a shrub bear­ing clus­ter of white flow­ers amidst di­a­mond- shaped dark green leaves; Ces­trum noc­tur­num, com­monly known as Raat ki Rani, a shrub with sweet- scented white flow­ers which opens at night and Jas­minum, whose va­ri­eties in­clude mo­tia, chameli white and juhi with soft white flow­ers in abun­dance and a heav­ily in­tox­i­cat­ing scent. One can also add Ix­ora white— gar­de­nias, hi­bis­cus,

mur­raya ex­ot­ica and ner­ium ole­an­der white to the col­lec­tion of shrubs. Com­ing to trees, the Mag­no­lia gran­di­flora and

Plume­ria alba, also known as Champa alba are ex­cel­lent ad­di­tions in gar­dens of any size in­clud­ing a ter­race gar­den. Plumthe­ria flow­ers round the year and these lovely white flow­ers make for an artis­tic im­age. Pop­u­larly known as pagoda tree or frangi­pani, it is a struc­tured tree and works as a sculp­ture that adorns the gar­den.

Taber­nae­mon­tana or chandni is an ev­er­green shrub adapt­able to hardy con­di­tions in the plains. It has dark

green glossy leaves and a star- like mass of white flow­ers. Sin­gle flow­er­ing va­ri­ety makes a good com­bi­na­tion of green and white as does the whole shrub. There is a type with var­ie­gated leaves with ir­reg­u­lar creamy var­ie­ga­tion and white flow­ers to add a sil­very ef­fect, and also a dwarf va­ri­ety of chandni with clus­ters of white flow­ers.

OUT LIKE A LIGHT With a lit­tle bit of in­vest­ment and ir­ri­ga­tion, you can fit out your gar­den with lights and trans­form it com­pletely. The most ef­fec­tive gar­den lights are those that il­lu­mi­nate the ob­ject or space be­ing viewed and not the viewer. Sub­tle, in­di­rect, gar­den light­ing is of­ten more ef­fec­tive than over­head, di­rect light­ing. Here are some of the most pop­u­lar op­tions. Up­light­ing: These are wide- an­gle lights put into the ground that point up in the canopy of trees to re­veal them in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent light.

Back­light­ing: It is ideal for putting be­hind plants, cast­ing shad­ows and show­ing stems and fo­liage in a sil­hou­ette against a pale back­ground such as white painted walls or golden ev­er­green.

Spot­lights: These are used mainly to pick out fea­tures like a wall sculp­ture, a plant or an or­na­ment, us­ing side lights to em­pha­sise the re­lief shapes.

Down­lights: Low hid­den lights on short spike or poles can be used to cast light down on a path or steps for safety and to cre­ate a gen­tle mood.

Lights apart, adding a water fea­ture to your gar­den fur­ther en­hances its beauty. This could be in the form of a cas­cade where water drops from a higher level to lower, a foun­tain and even a small pool with water lilies and golden fish.

A brightly lit gar­den gives a new face to the green field at night and adds warmth to it

In­tro­duc­ing a water fea­ture like a small pool makes the gar­den come alive with sight and sound

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