Friday, July 31, 2009

White in Night Satin by KCB

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are proud to tell you that KCB rules as the 2008 Maine Master Gardener of the Year. And we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.

After 6 weeks of being back on my beloved ‘hill’ I can count on one hand plus or minus a finger how many times I have witnessed the rippling silver/blue that is Casco Bay.

Granted, I am not around much during ‘the day’ but with the sun setting sometime around the 8 o’clock hour I still have plenty of daylight in which to witness this view.

So what gives?

‘Tis the fog that interferes'. Not of mind but of weather. Still, I longingly gaze out my open window offering sonnets to the view that alludes me. From these same windows and closer at hand I am offered other views, one being my very own and much neglected garden.

Thru fog and mist and darkness of night a glow catches my eye. Dozens of disks of white have congregated in at least 3 separate clusters. The assemblage hovers mere feet above the earth. From my vantage point stems and foliage of these Shasta Daisies do not exist. I imagine they are from another planet looking for a place to land.

A neighbor’s yard offers another group of characters. Contingents of goose necked encroachers form waves along the border. The tight gently curved spikes that are the flowers of Loosestrife, Lysimachia clethroides, are all pointing in the direction that is my garden. Are they looking to invade or become the foot soldiers to my flying formation of Shastas.

Being on the 3rd floor with an unobstructed view offers many advantages. In the far corner of another property, I am now hypnotized by ghostly feathers of white. Deutschland Astilbe, a double-duty perennial boasting attractive foliage by day, glowing white plumes on disappearing stems by night. A white rose blossom appears on the scene. While all the other plantings of the various beds appear to sleep, the blooms of white ignite at night.

White may not be worn by every bride. Nurses and doctors have scrubbed their institutional white for scrubs of color in pales or bright. Nevertheless, it is in my humble opinion that every garden should wear white. Add fragrant bloomers to this mix and you have created a sanctuary. The very essence of a moon garden is tranquil.

Relax and renew in your own yard. After working all day, taking care of family, home and garden allow your hectic pace to wind down. What better time to enjoy your garden, but in the evening?

A view that shimmers and shines will enhance those after dark dips in the pool, hot tub soothing soaks or just the sitting and sipping a selected beverage. En masse plantings or punctuated punches of white flowers, silver foliage, and leaves variegated with white or cream, reflect any available light.

Site is important. Full sun by day often captures the light of the moon. Viewed from a distance white bursts forth.

Think different bloom times, white hyacinth, bleeding heart, peony, the list is nearly endless. Any white blooming plants will do yet a more interesting illusion is offered by blossoms or plumes atop long thin stems. Most perennials offer cultivars with ‘alba’ blooms.

Add annuals.Nighttime “musts” include two well worth their yearly installation. First, the Moonflower Vine, Calonyction aculeatum, closely resembles a morning glory with the ivory white flowers opening as dark descends. I have yet to focus on the fascinating event that is the opening of the moonflower bloom. The slow dance takes aproximately 20 minutes.

Another special annual is Flowering Tobacco Nicotiana alba. The nicotiana flower withholds its fragrance until nighttime and then releases it’s heady scent.

Impatiens, an annual that is a perennial favorite of shaded gardens, should also be considered for nighttime interest. Compacted clusters tucked under trees or shrubs punctuate the darkness. Drama in an early summer pairing would be to plant the impatiens under the canopy of a Kousa or Pagoda Dogwood. Another layer of white would incorporate the white bleeding heart in this same setting.

Follow the folliage. Artemesia, Snow-in-Summer, Sea Holly, even Lamb’s Ear and Rose Campion delight.

Grab grasses. When flowering, the spikelets, plumes or wheat sheaths often start as buff or white before maturing to their late fall display. The slightest whisper of wind will render a tender sway. More pronounced movement will resonate a soothing rustling sound. One of my favorites is the shimmering silver. Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'. Others of note Variegated Japanese Silver Grass and Blue Oat Grass.

The sense of sound is often over looked in the garden. If grasses aren’t your thing add a water feature. A small fountain or water fall need not be permanent. Many are small enough to perch on a table or ledge. As long as you can hear it, you can enjoy it

Don’t shrug off shrubs. White blossoms, variegated foliage, white or silver bark adds their own sparkle. Do not overlook trees with the same attributes.

No moonlight, add your own be they candles, solar lights or the fairy twinkling of tiny white lights.

White cools and calms. Exit the day in the glow of nature.

Now if only the rain would stop....

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
KCB can also be found at

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