Moonlight gardens are a beautiful concept ideal for those who work long hours and only spend time in their gardens in the evenings or if you just live in Texas where the weather is unbearable until late in the evening. The idea is to use white, soft yellow, silver, blue and lavender to make the most of the reflection of the moon, hence the name Moonlight garden.
Moonflowers are an excellent choice for moonlight gardens because the flowers open at dusk and the fragrance fills the night air. They also attract the Sphinx Moth which are a treasure to observe with a nice glass of wine.
The Moonlight Garden dates back to 1652 in India and took off during the early 1900’s in the west. The gardens were planted to catch the reflection from the moon and included a water source such as a small pond or fountain for sound. Now we can use landscape lighting to enhance the mood and to create additional drama with the colors you have chosen. You can also add up- lighting to established trees for indirect light that enhances the garden hues. The plant profile should be fragrant to intensify the experience and ground covers of herbs can be used to perfume the air when walked on.
Elaeagnus × ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge, Variegated leaves of yellow or white are a great backdrop to a moonlight garden. 10 x 10 full sun to shade.
In Central Texas we have a fabulous selection of moonlight garden plants so I am excited to feature some of them for you.
Blue Plumbago (full to part sun)
Faint blues and lavender glow at dusk
Greggs Mist is an excellent choice because it almost glows in the dark at dusk. (full to part sun)
Mexican Bush Sage has an interesting texture and silvery back of the leaves. The bicolor flower with silver and purple also sport an interesting texture in the moonlight (sun to part sun) deer resistant
Black and Blue Sage (shade to part sun) deer resistant
Spider Wort (shade)
Gaura looks like a sky full of stars. (full to part sun)
Confederate Jasmine (or star jasmine) is an excellent vine for our area and the flowers are incredibly fragrant, evergreen and beautiful. (Full to part sun) Confederate Jasmine is not a true jasminoid but is in fact in the milkweed family and produces a milk that some people are allergic too and can cause staining of your clothes. Confederate jasmine does not have “tendrils” which means it does not have little fingers that attach to things so this plant must be hand trained.
White Salvia Greggi, deer resistant, low water and low maintenance (full sun)
Moon flower is a night bloomer whose fragrance permeates the entire yard. full to part sun and super low water. (full to part sun) deer resistant
White Salvia is also a great choice for deer issues, low water low maintenance. (sun to part sun) deer resistant
Spearmint as ground cover perfumes the air when walked on. deer resistant
Silver or variegated thyme can also be used as a ground cover. (sun to part shade) deer resistant
Herbs are an a great addition to the moonlit garden both for fragrance and aesthetics, not to mention they are delicious!
Silver plants are really impactful in the daylight and moonlight garden space. This is one of those plants that require a little thought in the way of symmetry so it doesn’t look out-of-place in a sea of green, but when used wisely can be stunning.
Pineapple Guava with its silver backed leaves and interesting architecture is beautiful night and day. (full to part sun) deer resistant
Silver plants like Artemisia, Dusty Miller, or ice plant can add drama with their interesting color and textures. (Sun to part shade) This plant is sold as an annual, but it holds up beautifully in zone 8 as a perennial, low water, deer resistant
Agave and Yucca can be a lot of fun here too because their funky shapes and the colors are a striking contrast in a landscape with other plants. They can be planted in mass or as specimen plants.
Squid Agave, (full to part sun) low water, deer resistant
Be sure though that whatever you use is blue, silver or variegated in color. low water, deer resistant
Yellow Knock Out Rose or any pale yellow or bright white rose will work beautifully as well. (full sun) low water depending on the variety, I recommend any Earth Kind rose.
Dont forget the canopy! There are many lovely white flowering trees that add ambiance to the moonlit garden and provide beautiful fragrance too.
There are many flowering trees that could be a lovely addition to this color palette such as a white crepe myrtle, magnolia or kidneywood. (magnolia and crepe are full Sun and the kidneywood is part sun to part shade)
Finally, a huge element that adds sensory to the space is light and sound. Add lights facing upward into mature trees, under the bottom of large leaves or shrubs or anywhere where light is diffused and not direct. Add sound in the form of a small fountain or pond and add color and texture with water plants like lilies or umbrella plants.
For gardens with water features evening blooming water lilies are an awesome addition for fragrance and ambiance.
Disappearing Water Feature with local river rock adds sounds, reflects light and allows for some artistic interpretation.
So the next time you find yourself enjoying the evening air or the glow of a full moon, find a little space to begin your moonlight garden and use this list of beautiful low water, low maintenance plants for inspiration. You will be gazing upon the same moon and stars as those who enjoyed these gardens centuries ago.
If you are in Austin or the surrounding area and would like a Moonlight garden design or educational consultation on how to create this space, contact me at 512-733-7777, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.