Wonderful Night for a Moon Garden: Varieties for Low-Light Impact

Reader Contribution by Mary Moss-Sprague
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Photo by Mohammed Ajwad from Pexels

On some days, fun seems to be in short supply. Most of us are busy scratching out a living one way or another, while we’re passionately working hard to lighten our footprint on this beautiful earth. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan for some enjoyment along the way.

Summer seems to fly by so quickly, yet a warm, moonlit night is very conducive to doing something fun. If you have some yard and garden space, or know someone who does, why not start planning now for having a moonlight dance party?

I’m a big fan of full moons, and when I started doing public presentations as part of my official Master Gardener training, I became intrigued by the idea of a moonlight garden. Such a garden features light-colored flowers that capture and reflect the moonlight. After pondering this idea further, I came up with the concept of a movable moonlight garden, and wrote a book about it: Dancing in Your Movable Moonlight Garden (available now for e-readers and in print when the graphics and photographs are ready.)

Photo by Rhododendrites

Objects for a Moonlight Garden

Below you’ll find lists of plants to start growing or collecting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to grow all of these plants yourself — that’s why it’s called a “movable” moonlight garden! After determining whose garden or yard will host the event, ask everyone to bring any containerized plants they have from the above lists. Then, distribute the plants around the yard to catch the moonlight.

Gazing globes are a nice addition, too. Nearby trees can be strung with tiny white lights and you can be creative with mirrors or other light-reflecting objects. Place benches, chairs, and tables in convenient spots, and set out refreshments. Add a sound system loaded with music files, and when that big full moon is rising in the sky, push the play button and dance in the moonlight!

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

Plants for a Moonlight Garden

White flowering plants, such as white petunias, white oleander, Artemesia (wormwood), Scaevola “whirlwind white” in landscape, pots, hanging baskets, mints, other herbs, yarrow, snow in summer, white alyssum, caladium, white impatiens, white rockrose, carnations, white star jasmine, cosmos, foxglove, shasta daisies, clematis, candytuft, rose mallow, etc.

Plants that open at night include angels trumpet (Datura inoxia), moonflower (Ipomoea alba), and four-o-clock (Mirabilis jalapa). Any plants with gold, cream, white, and silver markings work well.  

Fragrance with scented flowers or aromatic foliage include lilacs (all colors), roses (Rosa), border carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus), hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis), lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), thyme (Thymus spp.), hyssop (Hyssop officianalis), peony (Paeonia lactiflora), bee balm (Mondarda didyma), garden phlox (P. paniculata), nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco plant), mignonette, honeysuckle (many varieties), star magnolia, mock orange, and tuberose.

Plants with silver, white or variegated foliage include some variegated evergreen shrubs, and textured foliage plants (consider smell—not just touch), lamb’s ears, asparagus fern, wormwood (Artemesia), and Silver Queen Euonymous.

Mary Moss-Spragueis a certified Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver in Corvallis, Ore., and author ofStand Up and Garden: The No-digging, No-tilling, No-stooping Approach to Growing Vegetables and Herbs. Read all of Mary’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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