David Daehnke

The Gardening Guru
Mahwah, NJ 07430

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The Gardening Guru's Book Review

I have created this web page to help “steer” you through the incredible amount of horticultural books that are available to you, to give you an idea of which books are worth purchasing, and which ones you are better off reading at your local library or bookstore for free. Remember, even the Gardening Guru admits that he does not know everything about gardening. Life is a continual learning experience, and so it is with gardening. This month’s book review is:

The Evening Garden: Flowers and Fragrance from Dusk till Dawn

by Peter Loewer


It is a great irony that garden books are filled with sunny, colorful photos taken at midday, while the gardeners who tend them are usually away at work. The Evening Garden is an exciting revelation of the delights to be found in a garden that is planned and planted for evening enjoyment, from night-bloomers to fragrant orchids and wildflowers.

This is an indispensable book for any gardener who plans to venture out to the garden after sundown --- or who just likes to read about it.

Excerpt from the book –

Why make an evening garden, a garden that doesn't awake until the twilight hours and, in many cases, is at its best long after the sun has set?

The answer to that can be prefaced with another question: What’s left of your day after you’ve met your commitments to family, home, job, and community? These hours of leisure that were promised to all after the end of World War II seemed to exist for a while during the 1950s, but with each succeeding decade, they’ve decreased, leading to today’s cry: “What’s happened to my free time?”

I can’t turn back history’s clock, but when it comes to gardening, I can suggest a way to make the most of the time you do have, and that is turning your garden—or part of your garden—into an activity center that begins to swing into action when most of the day’s responsibilities have been met, after the sun has sunk below the horizon.

The evening garden is a great spot for entertaining. From a terrace in the city, to a deck or patio in the country, it’s not only the perfect site for both relaxing and thinking about the day that’s passed, it’s just a very comfortable place to be, especially if your garden contains that time to waft their subtle fragrances on the air.

My wife and I have had parties that revolved around the opening of the moonflower vine on a summer evening. I’ve actually taken visitors on a moonlight walk in the garden, and many are the nights we’ve stood next to a blooming evening primrose and watched the endless stream of moths that flock to these blossoms after the sun goes down. Other times we have sat alone in the garden and enjoyed the soft lights of the moon and stars (or the lights we have installed around the garden’s edges) and listened to the wonderful sounds of the evening. Without the distractions of the day, the night gives us a better chance to think and perhaps philosophize a bit about our place, if not in the grand scheme of things, at least in the world of the garden.


Let me begin by saying that I have the original copy of this book on my bookshelf, and was very pleased to learn that Timber Press had re-released it in paperback. I have always returned to this book for ideas and suggestions when people write questions to the Guru wondering how they can create a garden “on their time”. Isn’t it ironic that we try to create a show-stopping garden that blooms when we are not around, except for the weekend when things are truly hectic, especially if you have young children that need to go here, there and everywhere. There is nothing more pleasing to me than sitting on my porch in the summer time, looking into the wonderful night sky, and having the aroma of my evening jasmine perfuming the air. It is one of my personal ways of de-stressing from a busy day at work.

This book is a wealth of information, from plants, to design ideas for outdoor living spaces, and is a great resource to have and keep for constant perusal, especially in the winter when the planning stages of the new garden year are in the process. Originally published in 1993, the book has 272 pages with 160 b&w illustrations, which retails for $17.95, will be a well-worn paperback in your collection.

If you would like this reviewed copy of The Evening Garden, please send an email including your name and mailing address with Garden Gifts contest in the subject line to gardeningguru@juno.com. The winner will be notified by email on September 15, 2002, and must agree to have their name and state publicized on the Gardening Guru’s web site. A big congratulation goes to Joan from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who won last month's contest! Good Luck and Good Gardening! Dave


Sex in the Garden, by Angela Ovary

Garden Gifts, by Gill Dickinson