Fancy an adventure on your very own doorstep? Then take a tour of your garden at midnight. Even the most familiar of places change into something mystical and mysterious in the moonlight. We’ve been learning all about the night nature – the flowers and plants that come to life after dark. Here are a few nocturnal beauties that have caught our imagination…
The world of night pollination
Most flowers are pollinated by insects that zoom about busily through the day, but a few specialised plants have adapted to the dark. These night-loving blooms come to life as the sun goes down. They are most prevalent in warmer climes where the evenings are balmy. Pollinated by moths and in some cases, bats, the flowers attract attention by being highly fragranced and pale in colour so they can be spotted at low light levels. Of the two, fragrance tends to be by far the most notable trick up their sleeves. In fact, as the night gets darker, the scents these flowers emit get even more intense so the pollinators can can still find them. The intoxicating aromas and delicate shapes these lovely flowers form are the secret ingredients that make moonlit gardens come so beautifully to life.
Our four favourite flowers that bloom after dark
1. Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata) – Also called winged or jasmine tobacco, these small tubular blooms are actually a species of tobacco. Mainly grown as an ornamental plant, it flowers through the summer and early Autumn and produces a gentle fragrance at in the early evening. To keep the flowers blooming, place it in a warm sunny spot, keep it nicely watered and deadhead the plant every day or two. Then watch it go.
2. Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) – There are many variations of familiar plant, much loved for its heady scent and pure white blooms. Prized in the perfume and aromatherapy world for their intoxicating scent, the flowers are harvested at night when their aroma is at its height. Pure jasmine, such as the type we use in our CALM signature blend is know as jasmine absolute. This oil, distilled from the tiny flower petals is precious and pricey. However, it is so powerful that a little goes a very long way. It’s a must have addition to the Kiss the Moon ingredient list as jasmine oil is known to soothe both the spirit and the skin. Perfect for bedtime.
3. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) – Described as the ‘queen of the fragrant garden’, the evergreen flowering plant with deep green glossy leaves and rich, creamy flowers originated in Asia. You’ll find it growing wild from India across to Vietnam and in southern states of China. Don’t be surprised if you notice the aroma first. It’s deep, luxurious and hard to ignore (we came across some in Guangzhou earlier this year while walking back to the hotel one evening and it stopped us in our tracks). It has been cultivated in China for at least a thousand years, and was introduced to English gardens in the mid 18th century.
4. Ylang Ylang – (Cananga odorata) – We love this aroma so much we’ve added it to two of our signature blends – as an exotic companion to the Jasmine in our CALM blend and to add some headiness to the Rose absolute that forms the heart of our LOVE blend. It’s true that you are unlikely to find this one in your back garden if you live in the UK. Ylang Ylang, known as the cananga tree, is a tropical tree that originates in the Philippines. The evergreen tree is also called the fragrant cananga, macassar-oil plant, or perfume tree and it can grown to over 12m high. The aroma is rich and full, reminding us of a floral garden in the South Sea Islands. It is revered for its ability to relax and rebalance and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.