With today being the summer solstice; our longest day when sundown is just after 9.20pm, it’s the perfect time to spend the evening in the garden.

  Nightjar: Paul Sawer (rspb-images.com)

A time when we might actually down tools and plans and just stop for a while to revel in the sights, smells and sounds of the garden. As nightfall slowly descends, our sense of smell and hearing increase over sight as colours and visual clarity fade in the dusk to become layers of dark mysterious shapes.

Birdsong gradually diminishes to the last few evening blackbird calls and if the breezes subside, so does the rustling of the plants and grasses. There can be a stillness, a quiet that is only experienced in the late hours and every little rustle in the background can evoke excitement as a potential wild night time visitor…. or maybe it’s just next door’s cat. There are different sounds at night: crickets, frogs, the scraping sound of slugs munching through your newly planted salvias! ... perhaps it’s just more the fact that we are able to hear these sounds without the background noise of daily activity.

  Hedgehog: David Tipling (rspb-images.com)

Only a few gardens are visited by the larger nocturnal animals like the more elusive badgers and foxes; bats are more common if there are trees around and most gardens will be visited by moths and some time through the night.

For young children, there is a gentle video introduction to nocturnal animals in action in their natural habitats at night from BBC Bitesize.

Even without the company of animals, the night garden can be a magical place with the added beauty of fragrance. Gardener’s world have compiled a list of some of their favourite plants for evening scent and there is more general information on fragrant plants to grow from the RHS.

Whatever you see, smell or hear out there tonight, have a wonderful summer solstice evening.