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In Your Garden with Jenny Watts

Moon Garden

What is a moon garden? It is simply a garden planted to "shine" in the moonlight. Moon gardens contain white flowers and silvery foliage that seem to sparkle and reflect light of the moon. There is something quite magical about a garden at night. To truly appreciate it, you have to sit down and let the worries of the day fade away, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Light colors and white take on a new glow, and many blooms appear to float because the green stems and leaves fade into the darkness. The lighter colors of variegated plants become more pronounced in the evening. Night gardens also attract important pollinators, such as moths and bats. Flowers that open their blossoms late in the afternoon and have pale colors and strong scents attract these night flying pollinators. One of the most important components of a moon garden is a place to sit and take in the view. Place a chair or bench where you can sit and take in the subtle beauty. White flowers and plants with pale leaves reflect the moon, along with other sources of light, for an enjoyable effect. For white flowers plant some Shasta daisies, white alyssum, petunias, impatiens, phlox and pansies. Be sure to include evening primrose (Oenothera) with its silky blooms, white candytuft, and Moonflower vine with its 4-inch white flowers that open at dusk, and release a sweet scent into the night air. Gaura, known as ‘Whirling Butterflies’, is a graceful perennial that will add a touch of whimsy to the moon garden. And don’t forget a beautiful white rose like ‘Sally Holmes’ or ‘Walking on Sunshine’™. While plants with white or light-colored flowers are common to the moon garden, you should also consider the foliage – silver, gray, and variegated foliage enhance the garden as well. Artemesia, Dusty Miller, soft woolly lamb’s ear, and lavenders will glow in the moonlight. So will garden sage, ‘Moonshine’ yarrow, and ‘Snow in Summer’ Cerastium. Variegated leaves also glow in the moonlight. Hostas are especially nice and Pewter Pink Lamium and Lirope ‘Silvery Sunproof’ will also add green and white leaves to the landscape. Another aspect of the night garden is fragrance. Many of the night bloomers have strong fragrances. Honeysuckle, mock orange and star jasmine have wonderful, rich fragrances. Many gardeners like to design their beds in the shape of a full moon or crescent--even a star--though any shape will do. A small area is fine. Start designing and planting your moon garden now and you will be ready to enjoy it by the ‘blue moon’ later this month.