The garden takes on a different and enchanting personality in the evening hours when we often have more time to sit, relax and entertain. You can make your garden shine at night by using different types of lighting to set a special mood.
More than ever before there is a variety of different kinds of lighting to consider for the garden.
- Low voltage: Easily installed low voltage systems are probably the most popular garden lighting options for today’s do-it-yourselfers. Typically these garden lights are low to the ground and placed along paths or around the garden to highlight a featured tree or garden ornament. Low voltage systems use a transformer to drop your 120-volt house current to 12 volts, about the same amount of electricity used to run a car battery.
- Line voltage: Line voltage lights use the same 120-volt electrical current as the house. These lights are “hard wired” and should be installed by professionals.
- Solar: Solar lights are widely available, many housed in whimsical casings (like turtles, frogs, etc.) to double as garden art during the day time. Solar lighting uses photovoltaic cells that convert the sunlight absorbed during the daylight hours into electricity to charge a battery after dark. No wiring or external power source is needed. Most solar lights run for eight to 10 hours when they receive a full day of direct sunlight. Generally this light is diffused and doesn’t illuminate a wide area.
- Torches and candles: Candles and torches provide a flickering light that creates a soothing and romantic ambiance.
Designing with Light
When planning your night time landscape lighting, of course personal preference rules. However, here are a few considerations:
- Avoid placing your lights in a straight line along pathways. Rather, stagger the lights to avoid a harsh “airport runway” look.
- Lights that are not shielded tend to create an unpleasant glare that is hard on the eyes.
- Most plants are not bothered by night lights, but there are some that may have their growth or bloom patterns disrupted by being exposed to light during the night.
Plants for the Night Garden
Don’t overlook the use of plants to light up your garden at night. For example, though many flowers disappear as dusk approaches, white flowering plants continue to shine. Some flowers bloom only at night, and then release their fragrance into the still night air. Locate these plants near a deck or patio, or where you are most likely to be in the evening. Here are some favourites to light up your garden:
- Evening Primrose opens in the evening with soft, clear white petals that gradually fade into pink as the flower matures. Their perfume is similar to honeysuckle with a hint of citrus. The flowers open every evening throughout the summer until the first frost.
- Sweet-scented nicotiana has creamy tubular flowers on gracefully arching branches. The trumpet-shaped blossoms are closed during the daytime but in the late afternoon and evening they fill the air with a jasmine-like scent.
- Moonflower has large, very fragrant, trumpet-shaped blooms that unfurl in slow motion each night as the sun sets. Pure white with faint green tracings, the blossoms bloom all night. By noon the next day, the flowers are closed up and barely seen among the plant’s dense foliage.
- Angel’s Trumpet has 15-cm (6-inch) white trumpet-shaped flowers that open at night and remain open well into the following day.
- Evening Stock is a multi-branched plants with grey-green leaves and 2.5-cm (1-inch) pale mauve, star-shaped flowers. The blooms are closed tightly all day but open at dusk with a spicy fragrance.
- Four O’Clocks open in late afternoon, with 5-cm (2-inch) trumpet-shaped flowers that release a jasmine like scent. They bloom in pink, rose, white, orange and yellow and are very easy and fast growing.