Deep down perhaps I’m a Teletubby. Certainly at this time of year, when the Day Garden is reduced to a few hours, the sun so low as to be confusing and teatime a fireside feast. I tend to draw the curtains and curl up with a book.
There is an alternative, though. A relatively small amount of well-aimed electricity can give you garden pictures quite different from daytime. In our tiny London garden our predecessors had had the idea, and done a good job. There is a valid garden picture day and night. Invite Maud 24/7. (Her tryst at the gate, remember, was a daybreak date; ‘the black bat night’ had flown.)
In our little patch four spotlights, high up on each of the side walls, unequally spaced, can be swivelled to point downwards or sideways. They light the steps (essential), a table, and whatever plants are eye-catching when picked out against blackness. Certain ferns, for example, a generously yellow-splotched ivy, a camellia (mainly for the shine of its leaves), the bleached flower-heads of a hydrangea, the trunk of our over-sized sycamore, a vase or a balustrade. And, of course, the greenhouse, which becomes a Crystal Palace on a black night. There is the gleam of paving in the rain, and very occasionally the magic of snow. Just outside the French windows on the covered verandah the lemon tree can be spotlit. It is always doing something; often in winter flowers and fruit intriguingly at the same time. The surroundings become invisible, cast into mysterious blackness.
Goodnight, Macca Pacca. Good night, Iggle Piggle. You go to sleep; I’ll watch the night garden.