Whiffs in the Night

A night garden has pale flowers that are illuminated by the moon.

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Having something in bloom or of interest every day of the year is the goal of many outstanding gardeners.

Great gardeners sometimes go a step further. They strive for gardens with 'round the clock appeal, planting some flowers that are best viewed from twilight to dawn.

"The night garden is planted in pale or white flowers that are illuminated by the moon," said Ellen LeBlond, horticulturist at Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tenn.

A well-planted night garden is a delight for our senses of sight and smell.

"Some flowers emit their fragrance in the evening to attract the nocturnal insects that pollinate them, such as the luna and sphinx moths," said LeBlond.

Flowers such as moonflower, four o'clocks, nicotiana and evening primrose close during the day. At different times from dusk until dark, they "lift their necks up a bit to let out the fragrance," LeBlond said.

The fragrance is most intense on warm humid nights. "The humidity catches the essential oils and allows fragrance to stay longer," she said.

Among the best flowers for night gardens are moonflower, tuberose, evening primrose, passionflower, mock orange and herbs like creeping thyme. The blooms of magnolias, black locusts and American fringetrees are also fragrant at night.

(Christine Arpe Gang of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn.)

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