Gardening At Night

Because she is nocturnal, gardening at night is her time. She hears only insects, the frogs’ chorus in summertime, the ocean waves always in the background except on the stillest of evenings when the ocean itself seems to be sleeping, too, like the rest of the neighborhood.
Because she lives in a place named in Spanish woods by the sea she feels nestled away from the world. Gardening in daylight invites conversation from nice people but her nature time is time she prefers to have alone. Gardening at night frees her to dress in her raggiest like an old lady with no regard for fashion, which is nothing like her daytime self.

Because gardening at night means tromping about the parts of her yard made visible by the exterior lighting and moonlight, with a garden basket and paper bags she fills with weeds and errant vines. Kneeling on the ground or crawling through the dirt to tend it with her hands, and turning over soil and leaves and mulch is very much a sensuous experience.

Because she’s all about living sensuously these days.

Because gardening at night often means a backyard wood fire for ambiance.

Fires burnt with pinion wood send up such a sweet aroma of woodsmoke that it envelops her when she’s pulling weeds or planting a container of succulents or cultivating the soil in a bed she created years ago. Gardening at night is all awareness of her physical self and what she can create with her gloved hands. And because the pinion woodsmoke is absorbed by her long hair, it’s like perfume to her soul and reminds her later that despite the worries of the day she’s living in place of contentment with her family and her garden with its fire by the sea.

Because gardening at night is quiet, so quiet and still, and she can hear the ocean as though it was just across the street, which it pretty much is. Gardening at night means she can get filthy, crawling on her knees or balancing on her forearms to prune gingers or lop off suckers growing from the ground, before they become more scrub trees that she doesn’t want in her space. Garden dirt mixes with sweat and woodsmoke and she wonders what she really looks like but for once she doesn’t pose for self-portraits.

Gardening dirt is good dirt, sensuous dirt, which along with the woodsmoke from her own fire and salt air and sea breezes and moonlight and humidity are the elements that rouse her spirit. She feels far too awake for 1:30 in the morning.

Gardening at night means she can shake the dirt from her clothes and shower under the open sky. Houses close to the beach often have outdoor showers as hers does; showering outside is sensuous. Showering outside in the rain even more so.

Gardening at night might mean sweeping the curb or pruning the plants in the island on their street where a majestic live oak tree greets her and her neighbors as they come home each day to a landscape that might as well be Hanna Park, albeit with modest homes on lovely tree-canopied lots.

Gardening at night is something she can do all year round if she likes. There is always a time for planting at atlantic beachlife, but there is something about autumn, and even before the autumn becomes chill, but chill doesn’t stop her, that makes her want to be in the night, listening to the surf and spreading mulch by the light of the moon.


  1. Fearless Nester says:

    OMGosh! It was like I was THERE, the way you described it. What a beautiful post. It makes me wanna do this too, but it's a bit chilly here most of the year!!! Woodsmoke and the sea….ahhhhh lovely!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change
    Though all the feelings that broke through that door
    Just didn't seem to be too real
    The yard is nothing but a fence, the sun just hurts my eyes
    Somewhere it must be time for penitence. Gardening at night is never where
    Gardening at night, gardening at night, gardening at night
    The neighbors go to bed at ten
    Call the prayer line for a change
    The charge is changing every month
    They said it couldn't be arranged

    We ankled up the garbage sound, but they were busy in the rows
    We fell up, not to see the sun, gardening at night just didn't grow
    I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change
    Though all the feelings that broke through that door
    Just didn't seem to be too real
    Gardening at night, gardening at night, gardening at night

    Your sister said that you're too young
    They should know they've been there twice
    The call was 2 and 51
    They said it couldn't be arranged

    I see your money on the floor, I felt the pocket change
    Though all the feelings that broke through that door
    Just didn't seem to be too real
    We ankled up the garbage sound, but they were busy in the rows
    We fell up not to see the sun, gardening at night just didn't grow
    Gardening at night, gardening at night, gardening at night

  3. Anonymous says:

    REM: Michael Stipe. Rumor has it that Peter Buck indicated that his neighbors had a peculiar habit of "Gardening at Night".

  4. Alyson & Ford says:

    Wow, what a post; lovely story. Had me hooked to read it to the end.

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  5. Donna says:

    Hey you "almost" make me want to garden. But that would really be a miracle. Great photos!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jeannie- Wonderful post! At the end of the day, after the chaos of kids and animals and work, I'll think of your post and the lovely, soft, and serene feeling it gave me. At least I can go there in my mind!

  7. Anna says:

    Makes me want to go do some gardening in the dark with a nice cosy fire. Too cold for the outdoor shower but the roses would love some TLC. Oh how I miss the sound of the ocean. The desert has it's beauty but oh how I love the sound of the sea.

  8. Ellen says:

    Your posts often make me long for the beach but this one- where I live gardening is about over, unless you count leaf raking,and I am jealous. I will have to wait another year to start again.

  9. Kais says:

    hi there. finally my blog is updated again. hope to see you there! have a nice day!

  10. Joan says:

    The dirt smells different at night, too, doesn't it? Hmmm, since the heat has been so godawful, you may seriously be onto something. And that quiet stuff sounds just lovely. Wonderful writing, as always. Thanks Jeannie!

  11. Mickey Johnson says:

    …lovely post jeannie. i think i should like to garden at night…the fire at least. xo, mickey

  12. Karen says:

    Wonderful post…. and love the photos… and it brings back memories of childhood bonfires on the beach..that wonderful wood smell that can't be duplicated anywhere else…

  13. Michele Renee says:

    It sounds really peaceful. But I'd be too distracted looking around for raccoons and possum!

  14. Felicia says:

    no gardening for me..although doing it in the dark would give me a reason why I pull out the plants instead of the weeds. I have a black thumb..even our littlest child knows this much 🙂 Great post.

  15. Kais says:

    Hello! I called myself Kais when I was like 2-years old. No clue how I came up with it. Also the dog of my parents – he passed away last year – we called Kais.

    Moos is indeed our dog. But because I updated my blog I decided to use Kais for it.

    I work for the local government and I edit our website and intranet. At this moment we are getting an update from our intranet so I am really busy filling it. It had to be launched at November 1. Wish me luck! X

  16. Colleen says:


    We're studying descriptive writing in my English 093 class right now, and this is a very well-written descriptive piece, if I do say so myself. You are something else, girl! Love you. Watch the sensual showers at night, though, especially if your going public with them. (:

  17. Owlhaven says:

    Sounds lovely!


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