If you venture into your garden of a night, you may be quite surprised by what you find there.

Come the darkness, all kinds of creatures, large and small, come out in the relative cool of the night. So too, do a legion of plants release their sweet and powerful scents after nightfall. Shrouded in secrecy and bathed in tranquillity, we’re talking today about the nightlife you could find in your garden – should you dare.

Sleeping plants
Calendula, poppies, and tulips (and a few others beside) close their leaves and petals for a long night of rest and recuperation. Just like humans, these plants like to shut up shop for the night, a behaviour known as nyctinasty. There are many theories as to why nyctinastic plants behave this way. Many folk believe they are preserving scent for the daytime as well as conserving energy, or even protecting themselves from cold temperatures. Some say closing up is a defence mechanism, protecting their precious pollen from marauding nighttime predators.

Scented flowers come to life
Night blooming jasmine, gardenia, wisteria, and moonflowers all release their scent once night has fallen. Honeysuckle is great value for money as it not only smells divine during the day, but it keeps its most powerful scent for evening time. Night flowers do seem to share the characteristic of being pretty hard to propagate, and are also tricky to encourage to flower so try to find plants already in bloom in your garden centre.

These nocturnal plants release their scent at night in order to attract poorly sighted pollinators. Nocturnal pollinators like moths, beetles, and bats rely on their heightened sense of smell (and echo location) rather than their dim vision. Another common characteristic of night bloomers is their colour. These plants are often either white, or a very pale blue. This is to make the most of night by becoming almost luminous once darkness descends, this in turn helps night flying insects like moths, to find them.

Animals of the night
Once darkness falls, the world you have created in your garden changes hands. Moths, bats, beetles, owls, foxes, and even otters all come out to play in the deep of the night. All these animals are common to the UK after dark but are pretty difficult to find during daylight hours.

You may be familiar with a coven of foxes in your locality, and you may even have a regular hedgehog visitor. Did you know you could also be hosting badgers, field mice, voles and even deer?

Pluck up the courage to scope out your garden in the dead of night. Wrap up warm and settle down for a long wait and you just might catch a glimpse of animals you never knew were making the most of your garden each night.

If you prefer a full night of sleep, set up an inexpensive CCTV camera in your garden and set some bait. Who knows what may be lying in wait…