Night Scented Garden and Tovah Martin’s New Book

Twilight gardening really is a “thing”.  Gardening as the sun goes down doesn’t require the same muscle intensity as daytime gardening. The summertime garden takes on a completely different look at sunset. Some gentle sitting/weeding and leisurely hand watering in the evening focuses all of your attention on your garden…forced mindfulness. And gardening around night-scented plants makes it a completely different experience…night scented plants like…

Angel and Devil Trumpets

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) and Datura (Devil’s Trumpet) are tropical plants with gigantic 9” trumpet shaped flowers. They both have a super power. They are only fragrant at night. . Brugmansia grows to 10 feet and its abundant flowers that hang down and have an unusual spicy smell. Datura grows to 4 feet and is covered with trumpet flowers that grow upright. The Datura has a sweet, honey-like smell fragrance.  Grow them in large containers and give them a LOT of water and fertilizer at least every two weeks with 20-20-20. They bloom all summer. Both need to be protected in winter. A few months in the corner of a garage works fine. They are worth the trouble. They are both poisonous but spectacular.

Night scented plants are in a rarified group. In the South Sound there are…

Star Jasmine, Gardenia and Tobacco

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is an evergreen vine usually grown on a trellis. It is covered with small pure white flowers. It is also fragrant in the daytime too but really throws out its sweet scent in the evening.

Gardenias have long been the holy grail of  “sweet smells”.  It is usually considered a “down south” plant but Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ is a shrub that survives in the South Sound winter after winter. It remains mostly evergreen and the pure white flowers slowly fade to an antique ivory. Feed it rhododendron fertilizer every few weeks and it will bloom into fall.

Nicotiana alata (flowering tobacco) is a common annual that looks “eh” all day but at dusk the flowers open and if you close your eyes you’ll think you’re in Hawaii. They smell THAT good!

They are easy to grow and thrive in even poor, dry soil.

Night Scented Stock is a fast growing annual that can still be started from seed for late summer fragrance.

All petunias do have a heavier scent in the evening but the ‘Supertunias’ are extra intoxicating.

All of these shrubs, perennials and annuals are available in South Sound nurseries. They are all easy to grow and they reward us all summer with intoxicating evening fragrance.

If only there was a book that focused on gardening for the senses…

“The Garden in Every Sense and Season by Tovah Martin”

“The Garden in Every Sense and Season” book is Tovah Martin’s year-long memoir chronicling all 4 seasons in her own garden through smell, taste, touch, sound and sight.

The “senses” angle is a new one and Martin’s garden “sense” conclusions suggest that she has done the work. Her prose is gentle but thorough. This isn’t a book of lists, it’s a book of close observations filled with surprising attention to the smallest details…details we might miss if we’re not “mindful”.

Martin provides garden Virtual Zoom lectures through her website,

The subtitle, “A Year of Insights and Inspiration from My Garden”, makes Martin’s book a tempting read whether you garden or not.

Timber Press, $16.95, 232 p.