The Manual of Southern Know-How

How to Design a Nighttime Garden

A great garden is about so much more than good looks

photo: Ross MacDonald


gardenia knows just how to entice. At dusk, the waxy white flower’s fragrance intensifies, attracting pollinating moths—and nudging garden lovers to slip outside to enjoy the intoxicating scent of nighttime in the South. Just the reason Scott Ogden, a Texan, garden designer, and author of The Moonlit Garden, likes to plant nocturnal landscapes. “The idea is to stop paying so much attention to color,” Ogden says, “and let loose some of these other senses.”

Ogden plants crinum lilies, for their aromas, and papaya, magnolia, and gardenia for scent and structure. He also recommends intermingling white trumpet flowers, nicotiana, tuberose, and majestic moonflowers, plus silvery agave, dusty miller, and lamb’s ears.

Finally, consider adding to the chorus of cicadas and nightingales. “I lay gravel paths for evening gardens because they crunch and make noise,” Ogden says. With sight, smell, and sound engaged, keep that other Southern sense—the itch of skeeter bite—at bay with plantings of citronella and Ogden’s go-to, lemongrass.


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