If there is a prettier word than “twilight,” I don’t know what it is. The word carries with it mystery and delicacy. Maybe it’s because transitional periods are among nature’s loveliest: night to morning, bud to bloom, girl to woman. So I was taken by the title The Twilight Garden by Lia Leendertz (Ball Publishing, 2011), subtitled “ Creating a garden that entrances by day and comes alive at night.”
A gardening columnist for the Guardian’s Weekend magazine, she also writes a garden blog abloom with garden hints, oddments of observation, and gentle self-deprecation. Like me she is a fan of Ray Bradbury, in her case for the evocation of the atmosphere of “high summer childhood” in Dandelion Wine. In The Twilight Garden, she herself evokes atmosphere in ways both poetic and practical, telling readers how to enjoy evenings in their gardens whether it’s smelling “the sultry fragrances of night blooming flowers,” “throwing memorable, candlelit parties warmed by wafts of gentle breezes, with the only decoration needed being the pale blooms of borders filled with plants chosen for their ability to glow in low light,” or using the twilight garden as a “a softly lit outdoor dining room, where the fresh air acts as a digestif, sharpening the appetite and making all the food taste delicious.”
The book discusses how to establish gentle mood lighting, water features and cozy enclosures, as well as how to use color and sound to attract wildlife (at least the kind you want.) To attract moths, she advises, plant nicotinia, evening primrose, honeysuckle, and sweet rocket. I love this hint and can hardly wait to try it out some summer evening with my grandchildren while they are still easily thrilled : Hang a white sheet on the washing line and shine a bright torch on it; in minutes it will be covered in moths.
She also tells what plants are evening-friendly, for instance moon flower (I’d buy it for its name), petunias, lavender, sage and peonies. You can order it here for about $24.