Believe it or not the photo above, a
Encelia farinosa San Diego Sunflower (Viguiera laciniata) shrub in full bloom, was shot under low light conditions long after sunset last night. The occasion was a lecture and walk led by Carol Bornstein, garden director at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Bornstein’s talk used the Natural History Museum’s garden to demonstrate the many reasons why we should consider how our gardens look at night.
Why create a moon garden? For many people, nighttime is the only chance to see the garden during a busy work week. And sometimes it’s more pleasant to avoid the heat of the day and enjoy a garden after the blazing sun goes down. But perhaps most importantly, our gardens can provide habitat for night pollinators and other wildlife.
Bornstein had a number of great tips for making a garden interesting at night:
- Consider color. White flowers, of course, will pop out under moonlight. But yellow flowers stand out even more.
- We’re lucky in Southern California to have a lot of native plants with silvery grey leaves (an evolutionary adaption of dry climate plants). Masses of silvery grey leaves stand out well at night.
- Include a contrasting background. Light colored flowers and plants stand out better at night if they are in front of a dark background–a dark green bush or the shade of a large tree.
- It’s not all about plants. Including light colored rocks, gravel, decomposed granite, stepping stones, water features and white walls can also create interest in a moon garden.
- Creating an interesting nocturnal landscape means less reliance on lighting. As I’ve blogged about before, artificial light is not good for us or for wildlife.
That Bornstein considers the sound of leaves in the wind at night, should give you an idea of her appreciation for detail in garden design. And it’s nice to know that after we go to sleep our gardens can provide food and shelter for the creatures of this earth that work the night shift.