Locating the garden near a patio or deck will help you to relax and enjoy the ethereal colors and sweet fragraces.. There’s something quite magical about a Moon Garden. As a student of anything Moon or Sun-related, I know the magic celestial bodies can do. Pale-colored flowers reflect light from the setting sun and the rising moon.
An aromatic, night-blooming garden offers a peaceful and serene place to unwind, relax and regroup at the end of the day.




 

Moon gardens are gardens designed to highlight certain nocturnal plants which either thrive at night or can be appreciated best with moonlight.

The different effects produced by moonlight, compared to sunlight in human color perception that emphasize the colors of certain flowers more than others, bringing out different tones which are not available during daytime or with artificial lights. Additionally there are some plants which blossom or release their fragrance at night.

Certain flowers and plants with specific colors and nocturnal habits are suited to Moon Gardens. 

Among these, lillies, angel's trumpet, sweet rocket, moonflower, four o'clocks, irises, gladiolus, evening primrose, magnolia, snowdrop, foxglove, Japanese dogwood, creeping phlox, lamb's ear, silver mound artemisia, peonies, and  lilac. These are all commonly cultivated plants in moon gardens.

White flowers are especially suited to moon gardens, but light pink and similar colors are also common. Fragrance is also very important to the Moonlight Garden Design.

For strong fragrance, plant honeysuckle, gardenia, peonies, hydrangea, butterfly bushes and lilac.

A seating area to enjoy the Moon Garden is a must-have. A bistro table and 2 chairs, or 2 garden benches facing each other with a table in-between are best for enjoying a moonlight garden. So is a weather-proof settee or loveseat with cusions and a little table to set your refreshments upon.

Don't forget the warm white solar lights and light strings. I like to hang pretty solar fairy light mason jars that look like little fireflies on tree limbs or from trellises. You can purchase the solar light lids that fit on average mason jars. There's a wire handle that clips onto the jar. Very pretty. I use them all over the backyard for mood lighting at night. They're not too bright. I set one on the tables in seating areas for a romantic glow. For the practicality of seeing where I'm going, i use pretty warm white solar path lights and motion detecting solar lights. They only go on when you are within their range, and turn off a few seconds later. The small lantern fairy lights look awesome between and beneath foliage plants for a glow below your flowers.

White flowers will reflect moonlight, and fragrant plants will become more fragrant at night.  Especially on balmy summer nights if your area sees a lot of dew resting on the plants after sunset. Other flower colors, such as paler shades of yellow, blue and purples reflect light well, so they will stand out in bright moonlight. Gardenias have an amazing scent night or day, and look absolutely beautiful in the moonlight.

Lilies also announce their presence with an unmistakable perfume at night. My stargazers and white Casa Blanca lilies fill the night air in the backyard, whether i'm on the patio, or sitting in a little garden nook. It's quite intoxicating and romantic. Lilies have tall, straight, sturdy stems and produce big, bright blooms during the summer. All of mine have lovely intense fragrances that fill the air and are noticeable on the breeze. I can smell the fragrance in the house when the windows are open.

Roses. It doesn't matter what pastel color, as long as they're a very fragrant variety. Best in moonlight would be white, pale pink or pale yellow. I have fragrant light pink thornless climbing roses growing over an iron archway on the walkway between my patio and gardens. I plan on adding a few as "entrances" to my other garden beds.

Old-fashion Garden Pinks (carnations) have a  clove-like scent

White or pale pink dwarf butterfly bushes - Just one near the seating area is enough for a very sweet vanilla type of perfume. The butterflies find it irreistible during the day, and you'll find it irresistible in the evening.

Scented Geraniums in white and pastel colors.There are various varieties and scents.....rose, lemons, lime, citrusy  minty and apple are a few..The leaves contain the potent  fragrance. Geraniums are annuals, but they make pretty houseplants if you wish to winter them over. I do not favor annuals - perennials are a mainstay of my permanent beds. But I have a large hanging trailing ivy geranium that has been rotating in and out for a few years. Geraniums look beautiful clustered in clay pots. It looks very Tuscany to me. 

 

If you would like a free design plan for a Moonlight Garden, click the pic below for a  .pdf format download.


Plans include a larger illustration, plant list and planting instructions.

You can substitute any other variety of flowers you wish, after checking your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for plants that will thrive in your area.

 

Late in the spring through the early summer, clematis, a climbing plant, blooms with masses of star-shaped,  flowers in many colors. I have nearly a dozen trained to tall, narrow metal trellises, placed close to where you would sit. 
Throughout the summer, their neighboring honeysuckle vines bloom and adds it's perfume. 

Hydrangeas are almost no maintenance shrubs that produce big stems of large blooms late spring until heavy frost.  I have 4 that perfume the front and backyards. Awesome cut flower. They're on woody stems that last a long time when cut and put in a vase. When the vase water evaporates, the flower will dry beautifully and in it's original shape for floral arrangements.

Some flowers, like four o' clocks, bloom only at night. Also known as Miracle of Peru, these flowers open when the temperature begins to cool in the evening, and their scent is reminiscemt of orange blossoms. The blooms will be shriveled up by morning, and new flowers will bloom the following evening.

Evening primroses are tall plants with cup-shaped yellow flowers that open in the early evening and are very fragrant.

There are plants that bloom at all times of the day, but get more fragrant at night. I experience this with peonies, gardenias and lilac.

Chinese tree wisteria, a climbing plant with beautiful cascades of lavender hanging flowers are very pretty and Zen. I have one in each end of the gardens. One is attached to a trellis and is being trained to stay attached to it. The other is in a giant pot, and is being trained into a small tree.

 


White or pale flowers look very pretty in and around dark green or variegated foliage plants.

Herbs like creeping thyme and sages make great evening plants. As does rosemary.

The silver look on many foliage plants is the product of many thousands of tiny hairs that cover the surface of the leaves, which reflect sunlight and keep plants cool in hot climates.

One of my favorite foliage plants for every imaginable scenario is actually an ornamental grass, shown below. "Elijah Blue" fescue (festucca) is an amazing little ball of bluish green, grassy, evergreen foliage specimen. It grows to about a foot tall, is very polite and doesn't spread, and is shaped like a mound. It looks very pretty and has a little bit of a silver feathery glow when light reflects on the leaves. I use it to edge all of my gardens, or at the base of very tall plants. It grows in and around my Zen and Water Gardens. It's beautiful as an evergreen ornamental with snow all around it. Awesome as a ground cover.

Along with....

Snow in Summer - Yes, it does resemble a petite little plant covered with a dusting of snow. And it's perfect for a Moonlight Garden. Especially if you add teeny little warm white solar string lights in and among the plants. Very pretty groundcover or specimen plant, wonderful spilling over the edges of pots or down from windowboxes. I keep dividing it and planting it because it serves as a beautiful plant everywhere in the garden and creeps along filling in under other plants. Fuzzy blue-green foliage is delicate-looking and the plant is almost entirely covered by little white blossoms most of late spring til frost. Both of these groundcover foliage plants are perennial evergreens. Growing both of these together has quite an impact in the evening.

Silver Feather plant has feathery leaves with a frosted look. It's a pretty groundcover and trailing from pots or hanging baskets with flowering plants. Silver Mound Artemisa is also a favorite of mine day or night. I love the feathery texture and blue-green color. Silver Carpet has thick silvery leaves that feel soft to the touch. It makes a good border plant or groundcover. 

I have discovered a pretty succulent called "dorothea trailing red mazoo" - I'll never get the name right...it's a gorgeous vine with small green and yellow/white variegation, and the substance and compact growth of a succulent, that i bring it in and hang them in the windows so that I can use them again next season. It's a fast-grower that's gorgeous in pots trailing over the edges and down to the ground. It has a tiny bright red bloom that screams "look at me" among the lighter green and white leaves. This trailing succulent is my number one pick for foliage plantings in a Moon Garden. I prefer to grow perennials, but i make an exception for this groundcover. 

They're very pretty in hanging baskets when the tiny red blooms appear with the variegated leaves - it looks like Christmas to me. It grows thickly and low. No weed can live happily under the thick mass. It's an annual, so it needs to be brought in and babied over the winter if you want them in spring outdoors. They're hard to find in my area, so i treat them well. These look amazing at night with the faint glow of solar lighting placed in their center in the potted plants. They're a vision as a base plant growing beneath strawberry plants. The red berries and flowers among dark green and light green leaves with white markings is awesome.

Another foliage favorite in Moonlit Gardens is Hosta "Patriot". The blue-green leaves with large white center markings stand out with the wite centers reflecting moonlight or solar lighting. The leaves grow in a lovely curling pattern. Any white flower would stand out with this hosta as the understory or groundcover plant. I grow them closer together than recommended, and they create a beautiful edging along the garden's walking paths.  Weeds don't stand a chance. They need no care except for a bit of shading, if possible, when the summer sun beats down on them. They look beautiful under white irises, dwarf gladiola or white Casa Blanca lilies.

Plant Flowers That Will Bloom 
All Season in Rotation


 

When choosing flowers, 
think whites and pastels


Include spring flowers, such as  hyacinths, pale tulips, dwarf and mid-size, re-blooming irises. 

Evening primrose is pretty and smells wonderful in early spring gardens. Pansies with their pretty little "faces" look magical in pots in and around the Moonlight Garden. They're very cute in pots set on bistro or side tables.

Peonies for late spring, lilies,  Chinese Wisteria vines on trellises gladiolas and late-season perennials that re-bloom, like clematis and honeysuckle vines.

White roses, Moonflower, clematis and honeysuckle for summer through fall. Also for fall, I have re-blooming lilacs, along with fragrant white hydrangeas, and small White Diamond rose blooms until a hard frost.

Angel's Trumpets don't grow well in my climate, so i don't use them. I did have the yellow varieties growing in my southern gardens. Beautiful fragrance. If you can grow them, they're an amazing sight to see and smell.

Note: Practicality and reality tend to collide with garden design and recommended flowers and plants.... I live in the northeast. I won't use the spring Moon Garden suggestions, unless the plant has a long season. I know for sure that I won't be relaxing out in the garden during our winter-springs.  Anything that grows well after May 1st , or when night-time temperatures are warm enough to relax or feel romantic in the garden has my attention. Early bloomers have a place of honor in my front yard or pollinator gardens.

My advice is to plant similar or recommended plants for your Moonlight Garden that you will actually get to enjoy, and that will thrive, according to your USDA Hardiness Zone Map and according to the conditions that will be present in your garden.

 



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