Landscape Designs That Are As Beautiful By Night As By Day

Note of Interest: This article was edited from an earlier version seen in Elf (Enjoy Life to the Fullest) Magazine, produced by The Keene Sentinel

Imagine landscape designs that soaks up the last rays of sunshine. The golden hour—that peaceful moment between the rush of the day and your nightly routines. On that sweet summer breeze, you get to take a moment to soak in the good old days of summer, accompanied by the singing of crickets. 

There’s no need to step through the looking glass or into a fairy ring. With a thoughtfully designed, after-hours garden, you can celebrate the hour of the lightning bug. It’s all about paying attention to your senses and inviting the moment to stay just a little longer.

The Right Plant for the Hour

Various foliage and blooms respond differently to light amount and quality. When you’re designing an after-hours garden, incorporate red and yellow flowers (or leaves) that shine brightly under a setting sun. 

Picture taking a deep breath while you watch the disappearing rainbow of sunset. Did you know research has shown that watching the setting sun increases a sense of well-being and relieves stress? That’s part of what makes it the perfect way to end a fun, summer day.

Moments after, foliage with pale, variegated patterns and cream-colored flowers, like the milky white petals of the moonflower, become brightly illuminated. (Fun fact – These nightly illuminated flowers are often pollinated by nocturnal insects, like moths.) This makes them a lovely choice for the night landscape design, as well.

Summertime Scents

Have you ever been sitting at your garden bench and caught the smell of memories? Some plants have a signature scent that travels great distances. For instance, New Hampshire lilac bushes call upon childhood memories for many of us.

For powerhouse landscape designs this summer, consider planting bee balm–scarlet or wild bergamot will do–as both are New Hampshire-native, perennial, pollinator powerhouses, attracting hummingbirds, moths and butterflies. 

If you’re feeding the bees, anise hyssop is a little-known New Hampshire native with abundant, tall purple spires and a generous, sweet licorice scent. It is wildly easy to grow, will self-seed, and come back year after year so you can make some sweet, new memories.

Illumination is Everything

With backyard lighting, subtlety is key. Create a dramatic landscape design with backlit blooms or by spotlighting a particular destination. Solar features have become very popular in recent years, from pathway lights and stakes to whimsical, hanging details, like mini hot air balloons. Strings of Edison lights inside a screened-in porch are also a lovely reminder to slow down and enjoy the calm of evening. 

A solar lit patio and pathways make navigating with reduced light safe and simple so you can stay out and enjoy until the last second. Solar lighting can also make a small bistro set feel like a European getaway. Be sure to keep a basket of cozy blankets handy! When the chill of the night finally says it’s time to retire, don’t forget to enjoy one last look as you stroll inside.

Bringing Nature Close with Sound

It’s no secret that the sound of trickling water is good for the soul. Water elements have been key to relaxation for centuries and play a significant role in meditative traditions, like forest bathing. 

Tall fronds and gentle wind chimes can create a similarly soothing experience. So don’t forget to incorporate sound when you’re designing your nighttime garden. Keep in mind your current environmental noise and consider how to complement it.

For instance, if you can already hear the peepers, a light trickle of a nearby fountain may make you smile. If you live in a more urban setting, you may prefer larger chimes or a cascading waterfall for a stronger effect. 

Whichever features you work into your after-hours landscape design, incorporate all the comforts needed for sipping and chilling. Tuck s’more fixings together in a nearby tote for spontaneous roasting and toasting to a wonderful evening. Sit back and relax to the crackling sounds of a fire pit. Nights surrounded by close friends cozy in comfy chairs make for the most memorable evenings. Cheers to another summer well spent!

Garden Tip: If you are interested in creative landscape designs, read our blog: How to Have a Winter Garden (Yes, Even in New Hampshire)“.

January 30, 2024

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