The Weekly Gardener 1

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The Garden at Dawn

Magic Hour

Toad Lilies

Today I was out in the garden before dawn and I watched the crescent moon fade slowly into daylight as carpets of clouds moved very fast across the sky.

Slowly the birds and the moths started to emerge from their nightly hideouts, eager to catch an early meal before the morning rush.

The light was strange in a way I can't describe, a suffused golden lavender glow that faded to gray when the clouds overcast the sun. I'm starting to understand why this time of day is called the magic hour, but it's not just the light, there is also a great stillness in the air that envelops you, sharpens your senses and allows you to catch the lightest sound or scent. Life doesn't struggle before dawn, it doesn't fight, it doesn't hurt, it is at peace. You can almost taste time.

It looks like the year is ready to begin anew, I know that doesn't make any sense, we're waiting for winter, but I can't find any signs of it in the humid breeze that feels too warm against my skin, almost tropical, so weird for the middle of October, so late.

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The Moon Garden

Sweet Violets

Ok, I know everybody is busy and strolling through the garden at night is not the first thing that comes to mind at the end of a busy day, but if the spirit moves you to create one, a moon garden can be just as lovely as a bright patch of colorful flowers in the sunshine.

As is the case with shade gardens, white flowers perform best in the subdued light of the moon, which casts a silver glow over light colored blossoms and foliage. Even better, find white flowers that bloom at night, fragrant one, if possible, like nicotiana, tuberose, evening stock, primrose and moon flower.

Plants with silver foliage, like dusty miller, lamb's ears, curry or silver sage, add texture and interest to the border, as will a small reflective pond, if you have the room.

The moon garden performs in diminished light, so keep it open and airy, with wide smooth pathways and without large shrubs that cast deep shadows. Provide accents that sparkle when they catch the light - glazed ceramic, metallic wind chimes, marble statuary, garden lanterns. For an extra dose of eerie, try solar LED garden lights. They glow blue.