There is something magical and romantic about sitting outside in the dark while the moonlight dances across vibrant green leaves and stark white flowers with the wind causing grasses to sway softly in the night breeze. It conjures almost ethereal imagines in one’s mind. The atmosphere of a moon garden is one of peace, wonder and magic at night and a stark contrast from the traditional vibrant garden blooms during the day.
With only a few steps and tips, it is easy to create a nighttime haven for yourself that is perfect for relaxing and letting go after a long day at work or sitting with your significant other under the romantic illumination of a full moon.
WHAT IS A MOON GARDEN?
As its name suggests, a moon garden is one that is meant to be enjoyed by the light of the moon. Moon gardens focus on white and light colored flowers that bloom during the evening and late night hours, fragrant blossoms that release their aroma in the evening and foliage that gives the garden color, texture, and architectural appeal.
Beyond their beauty and magical atmosphere; moon gardens create a space that attracts essential nighttime pollinators such as bats, moths, and native bees. Creating an environment that encourages nighttime pollinators to visit your yard is of great benefit to all. Pollinators support biodiversity. There is a connection between the diversity of plants and pollinators.
The pollinator population of your yard is an indicator of the overall health of your own biome. Moon gardens are a perfect way to encourage nighttime pollination. Daytime pollinators, such as birds, honey bees, and butterflies, are attracted to brightly colored flowers. Nighttime pollinators are attracted to pale or white colored flowers and the sweet aromas released in the evening hours.
The most important feature of a moon garden is accessibility. Moon gardens are to be a place you can retire to after a hard day to relax and rejuvenate your mind and spirit. A garden that is not easily accessible won’t be enjoyed and a garden that will be forgotten about quickly. Many gardeners choose to create moon gardens close to common areas such as decks, patios, porches, and windows where they are easily accessed and enjoyed.
However, any place is the right place, as long as you can reach it with little effort. Even if you lack the extra room to create a garden space for yourself, you can still create a moonlit haven for yourself. To do so, look at planting in small pots, window planters, hanging planters and handing bags, you can create a mini-moon garden on your porch or even in your window sill.
Without proper lighting, your moon garden is just another dark flower bed. Moonlight and artificial lighting are your best options for your moon garden
After you pick the perfect location for your garden, it is time to choose your lighting. If you would prefer to use only moonlight; mark off your chosen location and spend a few nights observing how the moonlight illuminates the area. If you are choosing to use artificial light, consider using a mixture of lighting options, including spotlights. You can also combine the use of moonlight and artificial light to highlight certain plants or create an atmosphere befitting your personality and needs.
Without light, we cannot have shadows. Shadows also play an important role in moon gardens. You can use shadows to add interesting shapes and texture to your garden by illuminating uniquely shaped plant, tree or object.
Once you have chosen your garden location and decided how to manage your lighting, it is time to draw up plans and choose your plants. When choosing, think beyond one season. Many consider Moon gardens a summer garden but adding plants that thrive and bloom in multiple seasons allows you to enjoy your garden much longer.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED?
Once you have chosen the location for your moon garden, it is time to get to the fun part… choosing the flowers. When deciding on the flowers for your moon garden, there are a few things to consider:
LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED
- Proper growing zone. To give your plants the best chance to thrive, it is important to choose ones that are in your growing zone.
- Choose flowers with white, cream and pastel-colored blooms.
- Include night-blooming flowers. (Evening Primrose, Moonflower, and Tuberose)
- Include fragrant flowers. (Examples include: Gardenia, Night Blooming Jasmine, and Magnolia tree)
- Choose plants with brightly colored foliage.
- Include plants with blue or silvery-gray foliage. (Examples include: Lamb’s Ear, Blue fescue, Dusty Miller and Artemisia)
There are so many perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs that could have a place in your moon garden it would not be practical to list them all. Instead, here are a few suggestions to consider for your own garden:
- ‘Mount Hood,’ ‘Cheerfulness’ or ‘Stainless’ Daffodils (Narcissus)
- Pearl-bush (Exochorda)
- ‘String of Pearls,’ ‘Maureen,’ ‘White Triumphator’ or ‘Mount Tacoma’ Tulips (Tulipa)
- ‘White Delight’ Creeping Phlox (Phlox)
- Snowbells (Styrax)
- Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
- Snowdrop (Galanthus)
- ‘Mount Airy’ Fothergilla
- ‘Sun Gleam’ Delphinium
- ‘Moonshine’ (Pulmonaria)
- Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia)
- ‘Vision in White’ Astilbe
- ‘White Swan’ Coneflower (Echinacea)
- ‘Alexander the Great’ Bugloss (Brunnera)
- ‘Annabelle,’ ‘White Swan’ or ‘Incrediball’ Hydrangeas
- ‘Iceberg,’ ‘Ladybanks White’ or ‘Lace Cascade’ Rose
- ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental Lillies
- ‘Henry’s Garnet’ Sweetspire (Itea)
- ‘Moon Dust’ Yarrow (Achillea)
- Moonflower (Ipomoea)
- ‘White Perfusion’ Butterfly Bush
- White Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana)
- ‘Alba’ Four O’Clocks (Mirabilis)
LATE SUMMER/EARLY-MID FALL FLOWERS
- ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis
- ‘Floristan White’ Liatris
- ‘White Perfection,’ ‘Eternal Snow’ or ‘Playa Blanca’ Dahlias
- Evening Primrose (Oenothera)
- ‘Summer Snowflake’ (Viburnum)
- ‘Veluwe’ Heather (Calluna)
- ‘Gracillimus’ Miscanthus
- ‘David’ Phlox
Once you have your flowers chosen, arrange them in a manner that is both aesthetically pleasing and suits the growing requirements of each plant. Be sure to use compost to encourage healthy plant growth and mulch to keep weeds down and help retain water.
TIPS FOR DESIGN AND MORE
A few simple tips will help to ensure a fantastic garden for you to enjoy for a long time.
SIT AND STAY A WHILE
Moon gardens aren’t just to look at. They are places where you can sit, unwind and let go of the stresses of your day so do not forget to allow for seating. Even if you are creating a smaller moon garden, consider placing it in a location that has room for a chair, a bench or maybe just a blanket.
VARIETY IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL
As you plan your garden consider a wide variety of plants and bloom sizes. Use both in-ground planting and pots. Get creative with the space you are usingAdd height. Trees and trellising plants are a great way to add height to your moon garden, visually expanding its size. Going vertical is also a great option when space is at a premium.
Planting unique trees and shrubs in your garden that stand out even in winter which allows you to enjoy your garden year ’round. The twisted branches of Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick) can provide architectural interest and appeal to your garden while Cornus sericea (Redosier Dogwood) with its display of bright red branches adds a pop of unexpected color to an otherwise white and gray winter scene. Well-manicured evergreen topiaries will also add interest and color to your winter moon garden.
THINK BEYOND PLANTS
Strings of lights, soft wind chimes, spotlights, glow-in-the-dark pots, white rocks, mirrored gazing balls, outdoor candles or a water feature add interest to your garden and make it a place you look forward to visiting regularly.
THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY
There is no right or wrong approach way to approach the design of your moon garden. Choose a design that meets your needs and then choose your plants based on preference and the size of your growing zone.
DARK-COLORED TRELLIS AND SUPPORTS
Vining plants and those with top-heavy blooms often need additional support. When choosing your trellises and supports, choose ones painted a dark color, so they seamlessly blend into the background and do not take away from the beautiful space you’ve created.
IT’S OKAY TO ADD COLOR!
If a moon garden sounds appealing to you, but you can’t quite embrace a garden of only white flowers, add a touch of color! Highlighting your garden with a few pops of color will be a vivid display during the day, and they will sink into the background once the sun goes down.
In today’s busy and stressful world, we find it increasingly necessary to discover or create ways for us to relax and leave our worries behind. Moon gardens are a great option for such a place.
For busy gardeners who miss much of their efforts through the day while working, enjoying your garden doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down. By adding a moon garden to your yard, you will enjoy beautiful flowers and aromas throughout the evening and into the night. And the best part? It will be too dark to see the weeds!