Steven WellsSitting in my garden at night

My biggest challenge as a passionate gardener is actually stopping in my garden to fully enjoy it all, and by stopping I mean for longer than 10 minutes! You see I’m a chronic doer. Lazing on the couch inside all day long is not my thing!

Steven Wells garden

Just like all passionate gardeners I love gardening and I love my garden. I have thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating my own garden from nothing and I’m completely at ease with the knowledge that I will never arrive at an end point, in fact I never wish to. I’m always observing, reviewing, pondering, re-designing and also coming across new plants and project ideas that I want to include into the garden. Even though I have a smaller sized garden, with increasing regularity after each new project is completed, I either hear “haven’t you finished it all yet” or “how can you fit more in” from family or friends.

A great spot for me to sit amongst my perennial bed

A great spot for me to sit amongst my perennial bed

Now the issue isn’t that there aren’t places to stop and enjoy, because the garden has been purposefully designed to provide various spaces to do that. Often the response by family and friends after each new project is something along the lines of “how many sitting areas do you need?” You see what they don’t realise, until I politely explain it, is that I like to sit in different areas. Why? Apart from my retort that “one sitting area is simply not enough”, it depends on whether I want to sit in the sun or the shade, or whether it is hot, cold, windy or calm, or how many people I’m sitting with, or what mood I’m in. These are all valid reasons, but more accurately it largely depends on what view of the garden I want to enjoy. Ultimately I like having visual choices.

The fire pit area

The fire pit area

But this leads me back to my challenge of stopping in my garden. With all of these choices I find myself moving around my garden and like a young boy that gets distracted by one shiny thing, then another shiny thing, then another shiny thing, I get distracted by things in my garden and regularly forget where I first started. Quite often I’ll start out with the best intentions. I’ve purposefully equipped myself with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and sat myself in one of those great little spots and looked over the garden. But then it happens … a quiet little voice says “oh, I need to prune that, I should water that, I could just dead-head those flowers, I’ll take some cuttings of those, I could move that ornament to there, no, it should go back to where I had it”. And so off I go and then the moment is lost, the cup of tea goes cold and two hours later I remember that I went outside to just sit and stop in the garden. Come to think of it, I don’t recall the glass of wine being forgotten in my state of distraction….. hmmm, but I digress!

So what have I resorted to? Call me crazy but this has simply been life changing! Sitting in my garden at night.

Yes, you read correctly, sitting in my garden at night. Why? Well the wonderful thing is that I can still embrace and enjoy the beauty and design of the garden, albeit by soft garden lighting, moonlight or the dancing glow of the fire and I don’t see the many things that tend to distract me. And I just sit and I stop! It’s also likely that I’ve realised that pruning and trimming in the dark often has less than desirable results.

My two most successful night garden spaces are my fire pit area and my front garden entrance. My fire pit area is at the bottom of the garden, purposefully located out of sight from my neighbours and more importantly where I can only see my garden from all angles. At night it is my winter haven as I sit around the warmth of the fire.

Immersed in the glow of the fire and transfixed by the dancing flames

Immersed in the glow of the fire and transfixed by the dancing flames

My small front garden is also my main entrance and the external lights provide a lovely soft lighting. I love just sitting and relaxing as they gently sparkle above me.

The ambient lighting encourages me to linger for longer

The ambient lighting encourages me to linger for longer

My new found night garden sitting has been enlightening. Now the task at hand is to adapt this to the day time ….. well at least for longer than 10 minutes!!

Like this post? Why not share it with a friend?

Steven Wells

About Steven Wells

Steven has successfully combined his nursing and horticulture careers to be working as a nurse, a horticultural therapist and the gardens and grounds project officer at Austin Health in Melbourne. He studied horticulture at The University of Melbourne’s Burnley campus and is the 2012 ABC Gardening Australia ‘Gardener of the Year’. Having grown up on a market garden and orange orchard he has ‘green blood’ and is a keen gardener. He is passionate about sharing the benefits of gardening, horticultural therapy and people-plant connections.

12 thoughts on “Sitting in my garden at night

    • Thanks Catherine. My main aim is to have a lush feel to my garden so that particularly during Summer I can be amongst the greenery!

  1. What a lovely idea, Steven, thanks for sharing it with us. It may help your readers to deal with the “I-need-to-fix-it-right-now” disease that many of us manifest in the garden. I just hope that no-one gives you a Christmas gift of one of those head-band lights that are so handy for night time gardening… 🙂

    • Hi Adele … ohhh the headband lights … I’d totally forgotten about those! Yes, lets hope that I don’t get one of them, and if I do, perhaps I’ll need to be disciplined and only have it on to use the steps as I make my way down to sit at the fire pit!

  2. So much I relate to here, thanks Steven. Thought it was just me who had this compulsion to keep moving in the garden to “get through” all the to-do list. Then my sister bought me a swinging chair which we hung from our front jacaranda tree and it’s a gorgeous, relaxing, viewing, contemplating, savouring, meditative, just being place to sit and be in the moment in the garden.

    • Thanks Julie. Yes, I think we must all have that compulsion. I can happily say that I seem to have balanced my compulsion with both a desire to get through the “to do list” and a desire to see the impact and/or fruits of my labours! Your swing sounds great. What a great gift to receive, and I can just imagine it amongst the wonderful purple flowers of the jacaranda.

  3. Yes Millie, perhaps I may need to accept the inevitable and get myself a head torch … on the upside it will extend my gardening time and subsequent enjoyment!

  4. Hey Steven, Have you considered incorporating plants with white/silver bark, flowers and/or foliage that are accented under light at night time? Here is a list of some such plants … they may or may not fit in with your ‘lush’ theme?
    Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby Blue’
    Eucalyptus macrocarpa (Mottlecah)
    Romneya coulteri (Californian Tree Poppy)
    Helichrysum petiolare (Liquorice Plant)
    Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ PBR
    Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ (Eulalia)
    Salvia argentia (Silver Sage)
    Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’
    Eryngium proteiflorum (Sea Holly)
    Achillea x kellereri (Keller’s Yarrow)
    Actinotus helianthi (Flannel Flower)
    Anthemis punctata subsp. cupaniana

    • Hi Gabrielle
      Thanks for your thoughts. Lots of good ideas in that list. I’ve already got the Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ tucked into a couple of spaces. But I might see if I have any empty spots left for some of them!
      Happy Gardening!
      Cheers, Steven

Leave a Reply to Catherine Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.