My evening garden came about in a rather haphazard way. As is often the case with a new house, it was only after I began spending time in my garden and really using the space that I began to realize the need for plants that come into their own after the sun sets. I found myself spending a great deal of time relaxing or entertaining in the garden in the evening and at night and so began adding plants to enrich the experience.
To begin I just followed the same principle that applies to a shady area – use pale colors and whites to brighten. I’ve also found that silver-gray and variegated foliaged plants to be nice in the evening garden. These light colors just sparkle in the moonlight. Then I added flowers that only open after dark, or only release their fragrance at night. Certain plants do this to attract night pollinators such as moths and bats.
Here’s a short list of plants that will bring your evening garden to life.
Foliage for an Evening Garden:
Licorice Plant (Helichrysum petiolare) – Silver- gray foliage; perennial; zones 7 – 10 depending on species and variety, full sun ‘Helen von Stein’ Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina) – Silver-gray, wooly, large leaves; perennial; zones 4 – 8, full sun
‘Flashy Lady’ Dusty Miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa) – Silver-gray, 36-inch tall, upright foliage; annual except in zones 7 – 9; full sun
‘Heigh-Ho Silver’ Plectranthus (Plectranthus coleoides) – Fuzzy, silver gray, 2-inch wide leaves; annual except in zones 9 – 10; full sun to partial shade
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Light gray foliage; fresh scent; perennial; zones 5 – 8; full sun
Variegated Ribbon Grass (Phalaris) – White and green variegated foliage that is blushed with pink; perennial; zones 4 – 11; full sun to partial shade
‘Silver Queen’ Artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana) – Silver-gray foliage; fresh scent; perennial; zones 4 – 9; full sun
‘Margarita’ Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomea batatas) – Chartreuse foliage; annual vine/groundcover; zones 9 – 11; full sun
Blooms for an Evening Garden:
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata) – Small, white, tubular blooms that open at dusk emitting a strong, jasmine like fragrance; short lived perennials grown as an annual; zones 10 – 11; full sun
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) – Large, white blooms on vining plant with heart shaped leaves; lightly perfumed; blooms only at night; annual; zones 9 – 11; full sun
Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia) – Large trumpets hang down from this fast growing tropical plant; highly fragrant; white, peach or yellow blooms; zones 9 -11; morning sun and afternoon shade
Four O’Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) – Fragrant medium sized flowers; true to its name blooms open late afternoon; annual; zones 8 – 11; full sun to partial shade
Night Blooming Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum) – Tropical shrub; indistinct white flowers that open at night; very strong fragrance that can be over powering if planted too close to open windows, porches or patios; zones 8 – 9; full sun
‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental Lily – Big, beautiful, pure white blooms; sweet fragrance; perennial bulb; zones 4 – 8
Gardenia (Gardenia augusta) – The queen of the fragrant garden; white blooms; strong fragrance; shrub; zones 8 – 10