Get behind your garden: In praise of back-lighting

When you’re planning, or planting, your garden, don’t forget to enjoy the view from all sides. Even the backside. The effect of light when seen through your garden can enhance its beauty in all seasons.

I caught these geraniums glowing at an event held at the Bain Co-op about this time last year. The stained-glass impact of the indoor flowers and foliage was stunning. I couldn’t resist.

Same with the impact of this serviceberry (Amelanchier) in bloom in a neighbour’s garden a couple of springs ago. The flowers are lovely. But when backlit by sunshine, they create a cloud or constellation that magnifies the whiteness of each petal. A stunner.

Think of other things that catch the light this way: The red leaves of a Japanese maple; the exfoliating bark of a river birch; the dried heads of grasses. Choose plants that add this design element to your garden, and position them where you can enjoy their colourful aura whenever framed by light.

I was reminded of the phenomenon of backlighting in the garden by simply noticing the play of sunshine on the violas I’d planted in my windowboxes. Most people stand back to study the effect of their windowboxes from the front. Pay attention to the show they might be putting on for you from the flipside, too.

It might not have been as obvious had I crowded the violas with other plants. That would have created another kind of beauty; but not this one.

This idea puts a different spin, literally, on the notion of walking around the garden. Give it a try from time to time. You might be surprised and pleased by what you see.

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