A moon garden is specifically designed to be enjoyed after dark, a garden that comes alive by the light of the moon and where you can reconnect with creatures of the night.
The Moon is the closest astronomical body to Earth, giving it a strong influence over us; it pulls on Earth’s oceans, causing tides, and its movement affects our emotions, reactions, and even the cycles of our bodies. The moon has always played an important role in gardening and in agriculture; long before calendars, we tracked time by the cycles of the moon.
We also tend to think of moon gardens as a modern design trend but they are not a new concept at all; moon gardens have a long history and can be found in countries like India and Japan. In the early 1500s, India’s Mughal emperor Babur created the Mehtab Bagh - literally meaning ‘Moonlight Garden’ and later, his descendant Shah Jehan included it as a part of the Taj Mahal; a moonlit pleasure garden from which to view the mausoleum. Moon gardens were also planted in medieval Japan, using white or pale-coloured rocks and sand, and pools of water to catch the shimmering moonlight.
The golden age of these monochromatic gardens, specifically white gardens began in the 20th century with, Gertrude Jekyll among the first to acknowledge the importance of colour in the garden. She created a number of monochromatic gardens, including white though the Sissinghurst White Garden must be the most famous and, to many, the most beautiful white garden in the world. It was created by an English writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, originally as a rose garden and later transformed into the White Garden seen today.
Creating your own Moon Garden
Try to seek out the most peaceful spot for your lunar layout, where you can sit and whisper your secrets to the moon, listen to the wind through the plants or the trickle of a water feature, where you can sit and relax for hours without disturbance. Artificial light should be kept to a minimum, the garden should be enjoyed by moonlight but on days where there is no moon, you can accentuate the planting by installing soft lights; consider tiny fairy lights, low level solar lights, lanterns or candles.
While your sight may be somewhat impaired at night, your other senses will not be so, aim to create an acoustic environment. A good moon garden will have soothing sounds such as those from a small fountain or other similar water feature; or the sounds of crystal clear notes that ring out on gentle breezes from strategically placed wind chimes or a soft susurration through the stems of ornamental grasses and bamboos, whispering sweet nothings to the night..
Create a garden that imbues the night air with lingering and intoxicating perfume of night scented flowers, climbers such as honeysuckle around a cosy arbour or ones that line a path which release their perfume as you pass by, lavender and catmint and phlox. Remember to plant containers with sweetly scented annuals like nicotiana and night scented stock.
Make use of design elements such as paths constructed from light or white coloured gravel or pale cobbles, garden mirrors in the right place can help to reflect the moon or mirrored balls placed in strategic places in the borders
White is the last colour to disappear into the gloaming so, choose trees, shrubs and plants that will continue to pierce the darkness long after the sun has set. Bring a glow as the daylight fades and that ethereal twilight descends over the garden.
Flowers such as snowdrops, magnolias, alliums and tulips will start the flowering year whilst the striking stems of white-stemmed birch will add an accent all year round. During the summer white shrub roses, foxgloves Agapanthus, Philadelphus and Daphnes will add height and perfume so make sure there is somewhere to sit nearby. Hydrangeas will flower well into autumn along with annuals such as Pelargoniums, Nicotiana, Dianthus and cosmos
Planting for nighttime beauty that is also beneficial for pollinators such as moths, bats and bees gives you the opportunity to reconnect with nature. You may even create a garden that whilst you sit, communing with the moon, may attract other wildlife to the garden, such as hedgehogs and foxes
Night pollinators are attracted to plants in a moon garden as it is usually planted with white and pale-colored flowers that are intensely fragrant and produce a lot of nectar. White and pale blooms show up well in moonlight, so moths flock to them. They also have an amazing sense of smell, they love flowers that are highly scented, they love wisteria, honeysuckle and jasmine which you can plant against walls or over fences, archways, pergolas and arbours. Some moths hover over the plants to sip nectar with their very long tongues, and others will land on the flowers while they feed. A few native bees, such as small sweat bees, work by night, using the moon and starlight to navigate through the garden, they are drawn to evening primroses and Monarda (beebalm). that are fragrant during the day but their perfume intensifies as the night gathers.
A haven of quiet countryside highlighting issues affecting the natural world.