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