conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Luminous living


September 2015

moon flowers © Reitmeyer

What originated as simply a garden area filled with white flowers has evolved into a full-fledged outdoor living trend — that of moon gardens. In its most traditional sense, a moon garden is a cluster of luminescent plants and blooms, many of which are cast in white hues, that reflect off the moon’s pale light, creating a dimly lit glow. The effect fosters a setting that errs toward romantic, but is also equally relaxing.

Their ever-growing (no pun intended) popularity can be attributed to an overall renewed interest in gardening, says Zannah Crowe, a horticulturist at Monches Farms in Colgate. "People are working full time and can only enjoy their garden at night," explains Crowe. "They purchase plants that only open in the evening, so you can watch them as you’re having your cocktail on the deck at night." An example? The moon flower, which Crowe describes as the nighttime relative of the morning glory. "It’s an annual climbing vine that has a similar flower," she says. "It opens at night and stays open at night."

Crowe adds that creating a moon garden is no longer limited to just planting white flowers. Fragrance potency is also taken into consideration. She cites the especially fragrant day lily as an example, noting that hybridizers recently developed a nocturnal version of the bloom. "There’s a certain number of day lilies now being bred to bloom at night," Crowe says. "They open late in the day — a fresh, newly opened blossom that you’re looking at rather than the spent blossom."

Additional accents, such as silvery foliage and water features (think fountains, waterfalls or ponds), can further add to a moon garden’s effervescence. The key — albeit how obvious it may seem — is to plant the garden in a spot where it can be fully enjoyed, like the perimeter of a patio or near an outdoor swing.

This story ran in the September 2015 issue of: