Midnight in the Garden

The soft hoot of an owl carries on an invisible breeze. A cricket’s chirp is stilled as I step off the terrace and begin the lengthy walk to the woodland garden. Through the wet recesses of the lawn, my steps proceed gingerly, to hesitate and hear, to ensure and safeguard. It is midnight, and though the moonlight garden beckons with small beacons of ghostly white blossoms, the silence is unsettling. Far behind me I hear the cricket resume his nightly revelry. It is night in the garden ~ and night in the world. Deep, dark unforgiving night unfurls its silky tendrils, twining and holding me close to its dimly beating heart.

There is a dark underside to the garden, a hidden world crawling with slugs and snails, alive with rot and decay, and night is the favored time for furtive fungus and the sudden appearance of a swath of mushrooms. All of this is happening as I treat tentatively into the forested garden. Swallowed immediately by the leafy entrance, I enter the midnight menagerie. A lofty wind is rustling through the tops of trees, creating a lift in the atmosphere and drawing my eyes upward to pitch dark night and the canopy of silver-bottomed foliage. What hovers high above my head? Sleeping birds, busy bats, creatures of the summer night ~ the cricket in the distance continues his summer nocturne as the overhead whooshing suddenly ceases.

An aspect of mystery imbues the garden, as well as plants and trees and nature in general ~ floating seed fluffies, upon which little children make wishes ~ suspended dandelion seeds and flying feathers of milkweed pods floating on the breeze ~ these are the things of fanciful enchantment and childhood dreams. And yet it is not time to drift away… not yet. The moonlight garden of white flowers draws me further into the deep recesses of the forest, damp and dark, but beckoning and calling with its fragrant spicy sweetness. Somewhere in the vicinity Oriental lilies are emitting their seductive perfume, a siren song for their pollinators, while a tangled mass of honeysuckle tires a sleepy wayward bee. Tall spires of white foxglove climb into the night air, their bells drooping delicately and weeping for such beauty as a cloud of baby’s breath spills over its bounds, wafting hazily onto the path and brushing quietly against my foot, the mist of tiny blossoms undulating as I pass.

I have reached the end of the woodland path. The overhead breeze returns, clearing the sky of clouds and revealing the bright July moon once more. The white flowers glow again, illuminating my way back towards the house. The garden has taken me in, subdued and seduced me for a moment of midnight, and as I leave it to its secret nocturnal activities, I am ready to sleep. The leaves close in behind me, the flowers nodding in whispered acquiescence, and the moon smiles sleepily upon all.

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