Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 3
   May 2012
   Making a Twilight Garden
  Shasta daisies
  White shasta daisies at dusk
In 1950, famous gardener, poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West created a white garden at Sissinghurst Castle, located in Kent, England. It is said that she imagined a landscape that would shine in the moonlight. While she confessed to it being an experiment possibly doomed to failure, its success marked her as a garden visionary. Today, Sissinghurst Castle Garden is one of the world's most celebrated gardens and continues to inspire gardeners from all over the world.

Designing for the Dark
In her book The Twilight Garden, Lia Leendertz explains how white, which reflects light, is a twilight gardener's most useful tool. She recommends using it liberally in the garden, but keep in mind that it can be overpowering during the day's peak sun hours. The garden plan should balance white with the other colors found in the garden.

One winning color combination is white against dark-green, especially a dense hedge such as cedar or yew. The English author's front garden is entirely white and green, with a variegated euonymus, ferns, white foxgloves (Digitalis 'Alba') and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) in winter. White also looks nice mixed with silver-leaved plants such as lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) or silver feather (Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum). Furthermore, it goes well with some shades of blue and purple. Remember, sometimes the biggest challenge is having the self-discipline required to stick to a color scheme that works well, especially if a monochromatic white garden is the goal. Discount sales at the local gardening center can easily distract gardeners from the original color schemes they envisioned.

Scent should also be a consideration, as many white flowers emit a beautiful fragrance to attract nighttime pollinators such as moths, which are attracted to sweeter scents, and bats, which are attracted to muskier, fruity aromas. Anyone who knows the scent of white flowers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), mock orange (Philadelphus) or jasmine (Jasminum spp.) certainly knows these are powerful fragrances, long remembered. However, be sure to keep scent in mind, especially strong ones, when deciding how close you site these plants to your patio or deck.

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