I admit it: I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to gardening. That’s why the idea of a moonlit garden appeals to me: I imagine moonflowers unfurling their buds after dark, their frilly blossoms reflecting the pale light. I love the way petunias release their fragrance after the sun goes down, filling the air with soft perfumes.
There are so many reasons to grow a moon garden—including the not-so-romantic reason that by the time most of us get home from work, the sun is setting and shadows are stretching over our yards. Our busy schedules force us to think about how we can enjoy our flowers at night—or wait until the weekend to wander around and see what’s blooming.
A few years ago, I planted a patch of white, silvery and gray plants, hoping they’d catch the moonlight in the evening. I wanted to be able to come home, kick off my shoes, and sink into a lawn chair on summer nights, just for an hour or so. I knew an after-dark garden would be an altogether different experience from one I’d visit in the daytime, but that was okay. I just wanted a little time to Zen out with my flowers.
And guess what? My moon garden worked pretty well.
Okay—it didn’t glow and shimmer quite as magically as I’d imagined, but many of the creamy or snowy-white blossoms I planted did reflect some of the ambient light. It was enough—combined with a few carefully placed candles—to let me enjoy my garden when I could, even if it was after sundown.
I discovered something else, too, when I aimed a small spotlight over the surface of our tiny pond. My neighbor, whose house sits on a hill high above mine, was coming out at night to admire my garden, too. He was too far away to see the flowers, but the spotlight, he said, glimmered like a miniature moon in the dark water. How poetic! Seems I had my romantic night garden, after all. You can grow one, too; just choose white or light-colored flowers, shrubs and foliage plants.
Plants for a Moonlit Garden
Once you start shopping for flowers for a moon-garden, you’ll discover there are many shades of white. Look for blossoms that are icy-white, eggshell, ivory, cream, vanilla or pearl.
Variegated plants that work with this theme too, like caladiums with big, heart-shaped leaves. Light-colored caladium choices include ‘White Queen’,‘Candidum’ or ‘Moonlight.’
Spring Flowers for A Moon Garden:
- Daffodil (Narcissus) ‘Mount Hood’, ‘Cheerfulness,’ or ‘Stainless’
- Tulip ‘String of Pearls’, ‘Maureen,’ or ‘Mount Tacoma’
- Hyacinth ‘White Pearl’ or ‘Carnegie’
- Bleeding Hearts ‘Alba’
- Lilies of the Valley
- Sweet alyssum
Also try: white snapdragons, iris, delphiniums, lupines, crocuses and snowdrops.
- Coneflower ‘White Swan’
- Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ or ‘White Swan’
- Butterfly bush ‘White Profusion’
- Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba)
- ‘Alba’ four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)
- White flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
- ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental lilies
- Rose ‘Iceberg’, ‘Lace Cascade’,‘Sally Holmes Antique Climbing’ or ‘Lady Banks White’
Late Summer Into Fall Flowers:
- Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’
- Dahlias ‘White Perfection’ ‘Eternal Snow’ and ‘Playa Blanca’
Besides flowers and foliage, use garden accessories to add some sparkle to your garden. A mirrored gazing ball on a pedestal shimmers with reflected light, while Tiki torches can brighten a sitting area or trail. String tiny white lights (the star-shaped ones are especially nice) from branches, or hang battery-powered paper lanterns. Solar-powered lamps will illuminate a walkway after the sun goes down.
Pour bleached pebbles or crushed granite in pathways to reflect the light, too. Just be careful that any materials you use won’t roll around underfoot and cause anyone to fall.
Try silver and gray plants in a moon-garden, too, such as lamb’s ears, Artemisia, Dusty Miller, and licorice plant.