The Moon Garden - A Luminescent Splendor

Mary Staub

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words moon garden? Do you envision a garden similar to that of the moon’s surface – craters, lunar dust, and colorless void? It could be a first impression, but it isn’t an accurate one. And it shouldn’t be confused with moon gardening, the practice of planting in different phases of the moon for better success. That is an entirely different subject.

Moon gardens are filled with flowers and foliage that reflect light from unnatural light sources that come from the house, street, and solar garden lights. The flowers unfold at night and emit a sweet fragrance. The moon garden provides a landing path for insects to feed from the sweet nectar.

Getting Started

Select a location in your yard that will not shade the white plants. Stay away from house eaves, wide shrubbery, and tall trees. Build the garden close to a night light source such as a lamp post or street light. If you don’t have such a night light source, incorporate one into your garden with solar lights.

Be sure to test the soil before buying plants. This is a very important step in any gardening venture. A soil test kit can be purchased from the Adams County Extension Office for a nominal fee. While you wait for the results, you can start the fun part of this project and shop for plants.

Do some research. The internet is a wealth of information that can provide you with numerous articles and plant listings about the moon garden. You will discover that there are decisions to be made based on what is important to you. Decide if you want a garden that is seasonal – spring, summer, fall or winter. Evergreens in the garden provide color all year long and add interest to dull winter days. If you like fragrance in your yard, you will discover that there are many options. I find it comforting to relax in my yard after being cooped up all day at the office. Size, too, should be considered. There are planting options that cover the ground, add height to a small space and vines that can cover trellises. If color is important to you in your garden, add a few plants in colorful containers or add a few miniature glow-in-the night luminaries. The options are endless and fun.

Plant Selections

White flower petals or leaf markings are key to this garden. There are day blooming plants and night blooming plants. Some are annuals and others perennials. Tulips, Snowdrops, Dogwood, Rhododendron, Impatiens, and Angel’s Trumpet are examples of day bloomers. Primrose, Four O’Clocks, Nicotiana, Summersweet, and some forms of Jasmine bloom at night. And we are just getting started.

You may want to fill in your garden with green leafy plants that have white markings on the leaves. These, too, will reflect light while adding texture to your garden. Consider Artemisia, Century Plant, Liriope, Hostas, Heathers, Caladium, and ornamental grasses. Dusty Miller and Lamb’s Ear are silver but a nice plant option.

There are two types of roses – Sombreuil and Rosa Blanc Double de Coubert – as well as Sweet Autumn Clematis that will add night color and a dimension of height to the garden as well as fragrance.

One plant category not usually considered is the vegetable and herb group. Silver Thyme, Alba Eggplant, Casper or Boo White Pumpkin, Basil, and plants from the mint and oregano family will top off the moon garden in a fragrant and interesting way.

In addition to the sight, sweet aroma and color of flowers, sight and sound will round out your garden. Chimes, water features, solar lighting, and gazing balls will add ambience to the garden and help you enjoy the quiet solitude after a long working day.

If you think you’d like to start a moon garden for next year, start out small and then build big later. Buy a few plants and place them here and there throughout your garden. I love container gardening because I can experiment with various plants and color coordinate my garden. Plus, I can move my plants anywhere, anytime without having to ask for help. Buy a few containers on sale at the end of the season at your local garden center. Decide this summer or fall where you would like to place these containers based on sunlight, the trees or shrubs or lighting your yard gets and the plant selections. At the end of the growing season the containers can be stored against your house and brought out at the beginning of the next growing season when you can begin again growing your own moon garden.

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Read other article by Mary Staub