After dark, fragrant moon gardens come alive

When I worked in the city, I can remember rushing home from the train to catch a glimpse of the garden before sunset as the golden light slipped away. I needed a moon garden. It seemed like a happy solution to my problem. Begin by looking for flower colors in icy- or creamy-white, light pastels or leaves with silver, gray or variegation.

These shades will absolutely shimmer in the moonlight. With a little planning, you can create a peaceful atmosphere in which to enjoy your evening garden. Even on a moonless night, there will be enough ambient light from streetlights to make the white ‘Casa Blanca’ lily and softly-silver, Lamb’s Ear stand out. Imagine what a full moon will offer!

To insure a variety of white-flowering plants that will bloom from spring through fall, you can use the plant palette below as a guide. Unwind in your garden—after hours—in the warm, night air… with the delicate sound of ice cubes against glass and the intoxicating fragrance of night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum). We waited a long time for summer, so make the most of it!


White-flowering plants
Orchid (Phalaenopsis) : Easy-to-grow orchids such as moth orchids will add a tropical and elegant sparkle to the evening patio table. Place orchids in a container with ferns in a bright, spot but not in direct sun.
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum): These snow-white daisies will bloom from mid-summer through fall in full or part sun.
White Dahlias (Dahlia ‘Magic Moment): These large, lavender-tipped, white flowers will bloom from July to October. Award-winning, statuesque plants mature to 4-feet.
White petunias

Night-blooming plants
Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba): Four- to-six-inch, white, trumpet flowers open on twining vines after sundown—giving off a lemony scent. Pair with the heavenly blue, Morning Glory vine that blooms in the daylight.
Angels’ Trumpet (Brugmansia): Huge, pendent, trumpet-like flowers open at night and add a tropical atmosphere to any garden. It is best not to plant this one if you have children nearby, as all parts of this annual are poisonous. Attracts the large, hummingbird or sphinx moth.
Four-o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa): Choose the white blooms from a rainbow of colors. The flowers open up in late afternoon and close by morning.
Night-blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum): This tropical from the West Indies is an upright, vining, plant that thrives in a container in full sun. Its greenish-white, star-shaped flowers emit an exotic fragrance at night.

White or silver foliage
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina): This ground-covering, perennial herb is treasured for its soft, silvery foliage. It prefers partial shade to full sun conditions.
Silver Thyme (Thymus argenteus): A fragrant, culinary herb with white-edged leaves and pink flowers. Grow as a low-growing, groundcover or use in cooking.
Hostas: Hostas offer a wide variety of white, leaf patterning. In addition, the fragrant Plantain Lily (Hosta plantaginea grandiflora) boasts fragrant, white flowers in late summer. Hosta ‘Love Pat’ has blue-green leaves and scented, white flowers.
Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’): Perennial offers silvery, white leaves with green veining. Blue, ‘forget-me-not’-like flowers bloom in April to May. Thrives in a partial-shade garden. Rabbit resistant.

Fragrant flowers
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata): This classic-white, flowering tobacco plant will fill the night air with its heavy, sweet scent.
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Fragrant Angel’): Large, bright-white flowers with cheerful, golden centers bloom from June through August in full sun or part shade. Use as fragrant, cut flowers, too. Deer resistant.
Oriental Lily (Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’): Huge, snow-white flowers gleam in the moonlight. They will add an exotic intrigue to your garden as they attract nocturnal pollinators such as the hummingbird or sphinx moth, too. The fragrant blooms last from June to July in full sun or part shade.

White-flowering shrubs
1. Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): Spiky, fragrant flowers cover this North American, native shrub in late spring. It attracts, butterflies and hummingbirds.
2. Flower Carpet White Groundcover Rose (Rosa x ‘Noaschnee’): Sparkling, white, small, semi-double flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer. This easy-care, low and spreading plant is perfect for borders, pots or hanging baskets in full sun.
3. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’): The large, white, ‘snowball’ blooms compliment crisp, green leaves during daylight and glow like orbs at night. This hardy shrub matures to 8- to 10-feet and blooms in June through September. Flower colors progress from lime green to white and back to green. The ‘Incrediball’ variety has thicker, sturdier stems and larger flowers than the classic Hydrangea arborescens.