In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
May, 2007
Regional Report

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This night-blooming epiphyllum variety makes it worth staying up late.

Evenings at Home

Busy lives can keep us away from home much of the day. Luckily there are particular joys in the night garden, and good opportunities. Though some important chores like irrigation can be automated, nothing can replace the gardener for deadheading flowers or looking out for pest problems. And after dark may be the best time to search for slugs, snails, and sleepy beetles under the green beans. Ever considered donning a miner's helmet so you can garden after dark?

Night Life
If you suspect an armadillo is digging up your beds in search of white grubs, prepare to stay up late to catch him on the open lawn. Then you can set up a trap to catch and release that armadillo elsewhere. Grooming plants can certainly be done by moonlight, night lighting, or even by flashlight, but weeding is best done in sunlight, especially if you allow some favorite flowers to reseed. It would be a shame to pull out all the yarrow hiding under the taller chickweed you were trying to remove.

Removing the Hazards
To enjoy the garden while the moonflowers bloom, you must keep it clear of hazards. The tomato cage or rake you meant to put away but left in the path can ruin a late night garden stroll. When the sprinkler system comes, drenching the crowd in a movie, it's funny. If it happens in your garden, it's not. Adjust system timers and the flow rates of fountains so their splash doesn't create slippery conditions.

Mosquitoes are a downside to night gardening, but a fan or two can help keep them at bay and citronella candles and spray-on bug dope will repel them. Put together a night gardening bag containing insect repellant and flashlights or light sticks. A bottle with a splash of bleach in it and a pair of tweezers will be handy if you're looking for snails among the petunias.

Maybe the best reason to garden at night is the luminous and fragrant flowers -- from night-blooming jasmine and flowering tobacco to the epiphyllums with their fantastic flowers that open like targets to welcome the night flyers. The relatively cooler temperatures don't hurt either. Forget about aromatherapy and be glad for occasional insomnia; the sights and smells of night gardening are waiting right outside your door.


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