We think of beautiful daylight gardens; however, you can have a lovely garden for the evening hours, too. Plants that light up in the early to mid-evening will have you enjoying your garden at twilight time.
Choosing a site will be the first step. Does the area receive full sun, partial sun, full shade or partial shade? This will determine the plants for your garden.
Plant your moonlight garden where you will spend a lot of time. It might be on a back deck or a secluded spot on the side of your house.
On a moonlit night, walk around the place where you plan your garden. What kind of light does it receive in the evening? Keep in mind the shadows from large trees. Where the moonlight strikes is what you are aiming for to best showcase your plants.
A large area for a moonlight garden is not necessary. Even if you live in an apartment or have limited space, containers filled with plants to catch the moonlight and outdoor garden lights can work. One of the benefits of containers is their mobility for placing them where they will be seen in the moonlight.
Plants to choose:
• Annuals in white: Cleome, petunia, cosmos, marigolds and low-growing zinnias for sunny spots. For shade, begonias, impatiens and snapdragons.
• Perennials with silvery foliage: Artemisia, lavender, santolina, lamb’s ears, white yarrow, hostas and thyme. Most of these should survive the coldest and warmest climate zones, but check your plant tag before you buy. All of them except hostas prefer a sunny spot.
• Perennials in white: Shasta daisies, peonies, astilbe, foxglove, delphinium and white bleeding heart.
• Scented plants in white: Nicotiana, Claire Austin rose with a strong fragrance of myrrh — named for the late British rose grower David Austin’s daughter — white petunias, Casablanca lily and other Asian lilies — especially Stargazer — night-scented stocks, night blooming jasmine, garden phlox and fragrant evening primrose.
• Vining plants: White clematis, morning glory and moonvine, a night bloomer. A small pergola, trellis or arbor can support these climbers.
• Bulbs: Gladioli, tulips, hyacinths, snowdrops, daffodils, dahlias and irises can be planted in a variety of white tones. You can begin as early as spring and plan for the next season for your garden, or plant now and plan as the season progresses.
• Trees and shrubs: White flowering dogwood, Royal Star Magnolia, hydrangea, Madame Lemoine lilac and Korean spice viburnum.
Keep in mind the growing habits of plants as to their preference for sun or shade. The plants will bloom in the daytime, so if a sun-loving plant is in a shady spot, or vice versa, the plant will not flower well in the night garden. A shade-loving plant will wilt by nighttime if given too much sun.
Think about ornaments in the garden to catch the moonlight. You can use a soft gray statuary, a birdbath made of gray stone, a water fountain and some gray stones. Light-colored elements such as paving, fencing, arbors and benches will highlight the landscape. Installing some lighting in the garden will add a glow to the garden and enhance the viewing.
Our eyes view objects differently at night. For instance, colors vanish and blue becomes white. You might add some blue-colored flowering plants in your garden: forget-me-nots, rosemary, balloon flowers or scabiosa daisies.
Your moonlight garden filled with fragrant blooms will send a heady scent throughout and cast a spell of enchantment. A full moon or your garden lights will beckon you to your garden for magical moments.