University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
idea behind this garden is to grow plants that can be experienced at
through sight and smell. A moonlight or night garden contains primarily
or silver plants, as these colors reflect the most light and will glow
light of the moon. Fragrant plants add
to the allure, mystery, and enjoyment of these romantic gardens.
Moonlight gardens are excellent ideas if you
entertain in evenings, if you work by day so have little time then in
garden, or just want a space for meditation or relaxation.
this may be a recent trend, the concept is not. Centuries ago, white
pond moonlight meditation gardens were common in China. In 1639 the
Bagh" (which means moonlight garden) was created for Shah Jahan in
Moonlight or moon gardens became popular in America in nineteenth
designing a moonlight garden, one of the first and perhaps most
considerations is location. Your garden
needs to be placed where the moonlight will strike it. Walk around on a
night to scout out possible sites. You
need to avoid places where the trees will cast moon shadows.
Think about where you plan to sit to enjoy
your garden, whether it's outdoors on the patio, or from your favorite
indoors, and choose a location where you can view it comfortably.
else to consider is indirect lighting for the nights when there is no
moon. You might want to pick a spot
where light from a house window or porch light will shine. Also
you can install night lighting to illuminate your yard on
cloudy nights. Inexpensive kits are
readily available in many home and hardware stores, or you can
find decorative ones in lighting stores.
garden spot also must get adequate sun, as most flowering plants
least six hours of direct sunlight. For beds that will get less than
of sun, select shade-loving plants such as white impatiens, variegated
white bleeding heart, and lungwort.
gardeners like to design their beds in the shape of a full moon or
crescent--even a star--though any shape that is pleasing to you is
fine. As an
all-white garden can be overwhelming, however, keep your moon garden
small. Another means to give your
moonlight garden some variety is to include light yellow, cream, pale
light pink, or other soft colors. These enhance
the garden's appeal in the daylight hours too. Avoid strong colors like
and red, as they will dominate the garden.
rule, only plants in the same shade of white should be combined. An
flower next to a bright-white flower will look dingy. You can get
around this by separating the
whites with another color like green. The whites will appear to be the
even if they are different shades.
putting all the scented plants in one location. Keep in mind, too, that
scents blend well, or you may not like certain scents, so you may need
or move some scented plants. Many scents are faint, so place these
patios, walks, and windows.
choices of plants with white or silver blooms and foliage are
plentiful. Since many plants you'll find listed come in
colors other than white, check the description in catalogs, books,
or with the experts at your local garden center to make
sure you are buying the right variety.
Look for selections that are "self-cleaning", their flowers
falling off on their own. Otherwise
you'll need to "deadhead", removing spent blossoms to keep plants
attractive and prolong bloom.
For annuals with white blooms consider
pansies, violas, white ageratum, 'Helen Campbell' spider flower,
marigolds, white impatiens, white begonias (both the latter are good
shade), Marguerite daisies, dianthus, and white zinnias. Try new,
low varieties of zinnias like
'Crystal Star', 'Profusion White', and
'Zahara Starlight Rose'. White-scented
annuals include white alyssum, white-scented petunias, tall flowering
night phlox (Zaluzianskya),
are many white perennials to choose from.
These include certain species and cultivars (cultivated varieties) of
violets, bellflowers, candytuft (Iberis),
creeping phlox, Shasta daisies,
daylilies, irises, dahlias (these are tender and will need to be dug up
winter), garden phlox ‘David’, peonies, foamflower,
gooseneck loosestrife (site
carefully as this one spreads aggressively), bugbane (Actaea), soapwort,
foxglove, mums (these are grown as annuals in cold regions), and fall
White-scented perennials include roses and sweet rocket (Hesperis).
there are vines such as selections of moonflowers, 'Milkmaid'
clematis, climbing roses, morning glories, and climbing
hydrangea. Hibiscus, lilacs, crabapples, and viburnums
are some trees and shrubs that have white flowers, depending on
selection. The Korean spice viburnum is very fragrant.
forget spring-flowering bulbs such as white selections of daffodils,
crocus, and hyacinths. Snowdrops and summer snowflake (Leucojum) begin
and end, respectively, the spring bulb season with their white flowers.
Hyacinths and some daffodils are fragrant.
tender perennials or tropical plants you'll find for summer garden use
the huge bell-shaped hanging flowers of the angel's trumpet (Brugmansia)
or upright flowers of the thorn apple (Datura),
calla lilies (also good
in water gardens), tuberose (a tender summer-flowering bulb, quite
and the Atamasco Lily (Zephyranthes).
interest, add some plants with interesting silver or white foliage such
annual dusty miller or 'Longwood Silver' mintleaf (Plectranthus). The
annual licorice plants have small leaves, hugging the ground.
Perennials for their foliage include lamb's
ear (Stachys), lungwort,
variegated hostas (both the latter grow in shade), artemisia, and
silver-leaved creeping thymes.
fully sensual experience, add a water feature with a gently quiet
loud fountain isn't very relaxing). If
you're enjoying your moonlight garden outdoors, without the protection
screened porch, mosquito repellent may be needed in many areas!
Try and find a scentless one if you have some
fragrant plants in your moonlight garden.