Evening Garden – After the heat of the sun has gone,the garden seems to come alive with soft, sweet scents. It is a beautiful time of day to sit outside. If you have a paved eating area with chairs and a table, even if it is only a small terrace, a few pots of strongly scented plants are a must.
In dappled shade, a combination of lilies and tobacco plants can perfume the evening garden from early summer until mid fall and make eating by lantern light the greatest of pleasures. Scented lilies are some of the most beautiful flowers. Their great, waxy trumpets open from gracefully pointed buds to pour forth waves of sweet, spicy perfume.It is impossible to judge which are the most beautiful. Madonna lilies, the earliest to open, have one of the clearest, sweetest fragrances, then come the regales and auratums, with scents reminiscent of nutmeg and vanilla, and finally, in late summer and early fall, the speciosums, distinguished by reflexed petals and a soft, toffee-like perfume.
Among tobacco plants, the white-flowered forms have the strongest fragrance. They come into their own in the evening, when their flowers take on a new life, exuding a fragrance resembling sweet nutmeg. The old- fashioned Nicotiana alata easily raises from seed, as it has a better scent than most of the white bedders that you buy in trays. The taller, elegant, Nicotiana sylvestris flowers later in the summer and is also well scented.
An iron staircase leading from the living room and kitchen to the evening garden terrace makes a perfect platform for stepped ranks of lilies, illuminated by lanterns holding candles. The regale lilies (Lilium regale), seen in high summer, are some of the easiest lilies to grow.
Highly fragrant, they make ideal subjects for an evening garden as their white petals with pink reverses show up in the fading light. The lilies, ‘Pink Perfection’ and ‘Golden Splendour’, add just a hint of color to the group.
Under a bower of vine leaves, and against a backdrop of cool, green ivy and camellia foliage, transluscent lilies ‘La Reve’ and ‘Casa Blanca‘ and white busy Lizzies (Impatiens walleriana) grow in large terracotta pots. The heavily scented lily flowers last for several weeks. When a flower fades, remove it to encourage more buds to open.