A Night Garden Can Really Make the Perfect End to a Great Day; Gardening.

Byline: By Hannah Stephenson OUR gardens may look vibrant in the daytime, but at night they take on a different air as the fading light changes the colours, tones and fragrance of our outdoor space and certain plants come into their own.

Garden centres have seen a rise in night-blooming plants, according to new research, showing we are making the most of our evenings outdoors.

Almost a third of us do gardening (not just watering) after dark and 70 per cent socialise in the garden after dark, according to the survey of more than 3,000 people, commissioned by Grant's Whisky.

With this in mind, award-winning gardener and TV presenter Chris Beardshaw has created three blueprints for the perfect garden after hours. Chris says: "The garden is often at its most vibrant and intense as the evening slips into night. The fragrance is enhanced in many cases and the quality of light, either from the setting sun or the moon, adds an extra dynamic character.

"Simply adding a few night-blooming plants, subtle lighting and the use of white or light coloured materials where possible, will reflect the moonlight and make a real difference to the pleasure you can get out of your garden after hours." So, how can you make the most of your night garden?

First, choose your colours carefully.

Sizzling reds and oranges may dazzle during the day but at night they won't, so balance your palette with whites and creams to reflect the light.

Good choices include the pure white Cosmos 'Purity', Digitalis purpurea 'Alba', the white foxglove, and Cerastium Tomentosum 'Silver Carpet' (snow-in-summer), a vigorous mat-forming perennial which produces silvery white woolly foliage and a mass of pure white flowers when in bloom.

Night-blooming plants include Silene alba (white campion), a wild flower with delicate, evening scented white flowers, Ipomoea alba (moonflower), a night-blooming relative of the Morning Glory, and Mirabilis jalapa, also known as Four O'Clock, a native of Peru which offers both trumpet-shaped flowers and a jasmine scent.

For a mid-sized family garden Chris advises: "Sow hardy annual seeds that come into their own at night such as night-scented stock. If you use a cottage garden mix the seeds are quick to grow and will reward you with flowers by the summer holidays." Lighting is also important. You could drape fairy lights over woven willow structures, or solar lights to give an atmospheric glow.

If you have a small garden or just a roof terrace, light what plants you have with uplighters to create a dramatic effect. By positioning the light carefully you can create a silhouette on the walls, which help give the impression of a bigger space.

If you have screens in your garden or want to cover walls, use scented climbers such as jasmine, which comes into its own in the evening.

Candles could also be hung from screening in glass votives for additional soft lighting.

If you have a larger garden, plant beds and borders with plants from the white and blue colour spectrum, to help reflect the moonlight and make the garden appear to be glowing, Chris advises.

Plant fragrant climbers like honeysuckle near to the house to enjoy wafts of its sweet scent drifting through open windows or greeting you when you step on to the patio.

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DRAMATIC...after hours night garden is great to socialise in.

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