Enchanting twilight gardens
A twilight garden is the ultimate romantic setting for a swish New Year’s Eve party
climbers such the white-flowering mandevilla, Pandorea jasminoides “Lady Di” or star jasmine ( Trachelospermum jasminoides).
Fill containers with white alyssum, lilies, white and lemon petunias, dwarf white marguerite daisies, dwarf Gardenia “White Gem” and white-flowering begonias (shade), inter-planted with silvergrey foliage plants, as well as those with light-coloured leaves – Cuphea “Lemon & Ice” and Lamium “Silver Beacon”. Many white, cream, lemon and pale pink roses are suitable for a romantic evening garden. Iceberg roses in bush, standard and climbing form are among the best for landscaping. They are generous in bloom, and their clusters of white flowers show up well at night. Their delicate scent is also more noticeable in the evening.
For the back of a border, grow white liliums, cleome and tall Nicotiana alata and Nicotiana sylvestris with clusters of trumpetshaped blooms. White agapanthus, dahlias, alstroemerias, marguerite daisy bushes and Shasta daisies are suitable for the centre of a border, with fillers of gaura with its butterfly-like blooms, frothy gypsophila and edged with white alyssum. Grow white-flowering bedding begonias with green rather than bronze leaves in light shade.
Bulbous plants with white flowers include indigenous arums, the pendant bells of the Berg lily ( galtonia) and fragrant pink and white tuberose. Lilies are a favourite in the evening garden, for their elegant flowers and perfume.
Shrubs suitable for the twilight garden are white-flowering mophead hydrangeas, oak-leafed hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia) with white panicles of flowers, as well as whiteflowering proteas and ericas.
The white-flowering flower forms of plumbago, freylinia, Bauhinia natalensis with white bell-like flowers, and the silver leaves and clusters of dainty white flowers of indigenous river stars ( Gomphostigma virgatum) will also be an asset in the twilight border. While white flowers may only last a few weeks or even days, palecoloured foliage will give a feeling of stability and permanence to a garden. In an evening garden, the foliage of caladium, variegated hibiscus and hosta, and silver-grey Artemisia “Powis Castle”, catmint ( nepeta), Festuca glauca “Silver Eyecatch”, Helichrysum petiolare, lamb’s ear ( stachys), lavender, Lamium maculatum “Beacon Silver” and santolina show up well. When creating a twilight garden, the fragrance of flowers is as important as colour. The scent of choiysa, frangipani, gardenia, jasmine, honeysuckle, mock-orange ( philadelphus), murraya, roses, tuberose and viburnum will drift across the garden to patios and open windows.
Sometimes flowers are insignificant but have a strong fragrance, such as the tiny sprays of flowers on osmanthus. Alyssum has a delicate honey scent, and is among the most useful of annuals for a quick “carpet” effect. Use it to edge paths, grow between the treads of steps and paving, and spill from containers.
White flowers often attract nighttime pollinators, not only because they are visible in the dark, but also because many of the blooms are scented, as in the indigenous dainty epiphytic (tree) orchid Mystacidium capense with arching sprays of scented white flowers.
Whether you enjoy sitting on the patio or walking in your garden in the evening, there are many delights to be found in a twilight garden.
IN FOCUS: A glorious French-style water feature and light-coloured raised borders filled with white-flowering floribunda roses create a magical twilight garden beside a covered patio.
CLIMBERS: Choose white-flowering mandevillas for maximum impact.
PARTY TIME: White flowering St Joseph lilies can be planted in July to flower in a midsummer twilight garden.
PERFECT: White-flowering roses such as Nataniel.