Under the moonlight, white flowers can beam, while bright foliage stands out. Such a moon garden can glimmer in the evening — as a calming and relaxing retreat.
A moon garden — designed to be appreciated especially in the darker hours — is a sacred space for Deena Spellman, 63, of Cedar Creek.
When she walks over to enjoy her moon garden, "everyone here knows if I’m there, it’s off-limits," says Spellman, owner of Bastrop Botanical Gardens, an organic garden featuring native plants and more, including the moon garden.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains: "A moon garden can be enjoyed from dusk to dark — by the light of the moon … with flowers that open in the evening, plants that release fragrant scents at night, and silvery or textured foliage which is visible. ... White flowers glow in the dusk."
"It’s visual; it’s very soothing," says Spellman, who created her moon garden about 15 years ago and uses it as a place to meditate.
"Moon garden" is a general idea open to some interpretation.
"I think of moon gardens simply as evening and night-time gardens," says landscape architect Carol Feldman of Richardson. "For me, that includes white blooming plants that show up in moonlight. This can also be extended to some blues and lavender-color blooms." In addition, that would include blooms that look interesting at night, she says, and "plants that attract moths and other night-time wildlife."
If she were designing a moon garden, she says, she would likely also use plants with gray and variegated foliage, such as Texas sage, artemisia and snow on the prairie.
Other plants that would work well include kidneywood, American clematis, white mistflower, silver ponyfoot, blackfoot daisies and Mexican plum tree, says Paula Stone, of the Fredericksburg chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. Of course, "nothing says ‘moonlight’ like a giant datura (angel trumpet) blossom," she says.
In addition, large groups of plants together work well. "A mass of white flowers simply has a better chance of having an impact than would the same white flowers scattered about. Remember, you are looking for plants that show up at night; one blossom here and there will be swallowed up by the darkness," says thespruce.com, which offers gardening advice and more.
However, a moon garden doesn’t have to take up a large area.
"You don’t have to design a whole garden this way. Just pick an area of the garden suited to sitting out in the evening with a clear view of the night sky," suggests the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
"Depending upon the space you’ve got to work with, you can create an intimate area … where those sights and visuals can be enjoyed," Spellman says. Her space has a symbolic shape: a half-moon. "Underneath the trees, it’s a very sweet spot."
She also suggests finding a location that receives afternoon sun and has an open area to see the moonlight.
"We’re using white flowers of all shapes and sizes," Spellman says. She recommends using the ground cover frog fruit because it has little white flowers and silver-green foliage. "It hugs the ground; that helps with the weed control." A pineapple guava shrub also can look good, she says.
Overall in the moon garden, "In the summer months, when it’s in full glory, you don’t need a flashlight," she says.
The fragrances of some moon garden plants are particularly appealing, which might influence where to locate the garden. If it is situated near windows, then the scents can waft inside. "They’re really cool for outside bedroom and living room windows because of the aromas," she says.
On a cloudless, dark night, folks could sit there to watch the sky or even use a telescope.
The Chicago Botanic Garden’s website recommends augmenting a moon garden with a water feature, such as a fountain, and using low-voltage outdoor lights for pathways.
Find more inspiration and ideas in the book "The Moonlit Garden" by Scott Ogden. "In a wondrous paradox, experience of the garden heightens as it fades from view," Ogden writes.
The moon garden, for Spellman, brings together many lovely elements: the pretty and bright flowers, the stars, the aromas.
"It’s just such another beautiful art form in gardening that combines all these beautiful things," she says.