Most gardens are designed to be enjoyed during the day. You can take in the color, texture, and smells as you wander about them. Nevertheless, there are times that you might like to enjoy your garden at night. For instance, you might like sitting outside with family and friends partaking of a beverage and some good conversation. Your garden, though, is hiding in the dark. A moonlight garden, however, is specifically designed to show off its best features at night. This is usually accomplished by incorporating a lot of white into the garden. White flowers can almost glimmer in the night. Following are five great flowers that you might want to bring into your moonlight garden.
Moonflower (Ipomoea ‘Alba’)
This is a must-have flower in any moonlight garden. The moonflower is a member of the morning glory family and has the distinction of blooming at night rather than in the morning like its cousins. It is an easy-to-grow annual. Really you just need to plant the seeds in the spring after all chance of frost has passed. Moonflowers, like morning glories, are climbers; therefore, you should make sure that they have something on which they can climb. They will produce large pure-white blooms beginning in the early evening.
‘Iceberg’ Floribunda Rose
Anyone would want a rose in a moonlight garden; however, not everyone is much of expert at growing roses. Floribundas tend to be hardier than some other roses and also are continuous bloomers — usually from spring until the first heavy frost. The ‘Iceberg’ is an extremely popular rose, producing 3-inch clear-white blooms. (They may show a pink tinge in cool weather.) The blooms are also lightly fragrant, which adds a nice touch to your moonlight garden.
I have grown quite fond of astilbes. They are an easy-to-grow perennial and can grow to be 20 inches or more. There are numerous varieties in various colors; however, you will, of course, want to look for the white ones. They grow well in dappled shade; although they can handle full sun if kept watered well. They produce large spikes of flowers in the late spring and bloom through the summer. I have some in my garden, and they really stand out at night.
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)
I absolutely love daisies, and the Shasta is one of my favorites. The flower stalks can grow to be 24-36 inches tall while the dark green leaves are generally only 4-6 inches high. The large blooms are present throughout the summer; although, I have managed to keep mine blooming into the early fall through regular deadheading. Shastas spread but are not invasive. Most gardening books will tell you that they prefer full sun; however, I have mine growing where they are protected from the hot afternoon sun that we have in the South. They are doing just fine, too.
Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
Of course, you will want some type of ground cover for your moonlight garden. What could be easier than creeping phlox? It generally blooms from early to mid-spring; although, I have had mine bloom into the early summer. Creeping phlox comes in a variety of colors; however, there is a pure white version. Phlox is really quite simple to grow. You basically stick it in some decent soil, water, and step back. Once it has ceased blooming, the green does make a nice ground cover growing to be only 6-8 inches tall when in bloom. The spread for each plant is about 24 inches.
These are just five of my personal favorite white flowers for a moonlight garden. You might also be interested in mixing in wall rockcress (Arabis caucasica ‘Snowcap’) with your creeping phlox, another easy-to-grow perennial that is also fragrant. If you are a daisy-lover, don’t be afraid to add some wild daisies. I have wild daisies — normally referred to as oxeye daisies — that bloom continuously as long as they are kept deadheaded. (I just shear mine.) You might also consider planting some white irises or white bleeding hearts. Just use your imagination. If the flower is white and appeals to you, don’t be afraid to give it a try in your moonlight garden.
Ondra, Nancy J. Taylor’s Guide to Roses. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.
Roth, Susan A. New Complete Guide to Gardening. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books, 1997.
Scarlett, Kay, pub. The Complete Garden Flower Book. London, England: Murdoch Books UK Ltd., 2001.