Remember "The Natural"

Remember 'The Natural'? The 80's Robert Redford baseball movie, which many people adored, and which some derided for literally casting a golden halo around Robert Redford at every opportunity?

The other star of "The Natural" was the cinematography, which managed to express, visually, what emotion does to memory. When Redford strikes out "The Whammer", the sepia tones of the fading light evoke memories of memories--of a time described by grandparents, not a time lived. Later in the film, the black and white line up of the players is a photo in an old newspaper you once saw tossed into a gutter that suddenly swells into the colors of real life. And of course, the golden halos around the hero, and the magical ending with its shattered light bulbs transformed into a rain of stars.

So, what does this have to do with your garden? Well, something: back lighting.

The most magical times of day in the garden are the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun slants from the east or west. Time for morning coffee or a drink at the end of the workday. And the time when the sun can turn an ordinary plant, for a few moments, into an muse of fire.

So, how do you incorporate this wonderful effect into your garden? First, select plants that are born to be back lit--ornamental grasses, phormiums, lavenders, anything with thin, spiky, or upright foliage or flowers that can lock on to the rays of slanting sun.

Now just grab your new plants in their nursery pots, and wait for that angled light, then move the pots around until you capture that light. Plants in more permanent pots can be adjusted for the changing arc of the sun over the year, or by planting several drifts of plants here and there, in the right spots, you can prolong and enlarge the show. If nothing else, one plant in a pot that is inflamed just as you stumble out in the morning to let the dog wee can inspire you for the rest of the day.

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

You'll be the monarch of your garden Kingdom, and the plants, princes, in that moment of glowing light.

Or maybe just remember "The Natural".