Perennials forum: Moon Gardens

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Polymerous
Jul 11, 2013 7:11 PM CST
Yesterday, over on the site forum, I requested a new microbadge for Moon Gardeners. Dave promptly created one, so all of us who have Moon Gardens can now proudly display our interest.

On the same forum site thread, I was asked to start a thread on Moon Gardens over in the cottage or perennial garden forums.

So, here goes a short introduction to the topic, with shots from my own small Moon Garden as illustrations. (Of necessity, the photos and discussion carry my own particular twist, which is best summarized as "Daylilies in a Moon Garden". I beg your indulgence, and that you kindly click on each picture to see everything that there is to be seen.)

What is a Moon Garden? The short answer is that it is a garden meant to be enjoyed by moonlight. Plants are chosen that visually show well by moonlight: ones that have white/cream/ivory or pale yellow colored flowers, or silver or variegated foliage. While not strictly mandatory, many people chose nocturnally blooming plants, and fragrant plants (especially plants both nocturnal AND fragrant) for their Moon Gardens.

One thing that I quickly learned when I first laid out my own garden, is that Moon Gardens are also sublimely beautiful during the pre-dawn and dusk low light transitions. Here is an image from my small Moon Garden from 2007, taken at or near dusk:

Thumb of 2013-07-11/Polymerous/deabea

The daylily is 'Newberry White Dove'; in the foreground is the dwarf Shasta Daisy 'Darling Daisy'.



The diploid daylily 'Newberry White Dove' (Rushing, 1985), seen here by daylight, blooms in June (and some years reblooms during late summer or early fall) in my Saratoga CA garden.

Another image taken at or near dusk, shows the above listed plants plus Hemerocallis 'Tuscawilla Tranquility' to the front right, and 'Beautiful Edgings' in the back. (Hemerocallis 'Egyptian Queen' can barely be seen to the far upper right; it is just outside of the Moon Garden area.)

Thumb of 2013-07-11/Polymerous/2847fb

It has been long enough ago that I cannot swear as to what the small flowered plants in the foreground were; they may have been Nemesia. (Plants come and go here; in addition to the usual reasons, we have also had (and continue to have) heavy gopher, rabbit, and deer depredations, as well as irrigation issues.) I think that if you look hard enough, you may discern Penstemon 'Holly's White' (or 'Hollywhite'; I have seen it spelled both ways), Salvia 'Navajo White', the Shasta Daisy 'Ice Star', and perhaps either (or both) of Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash' and 'Limelight'.

My Moon Garden is in a prime viewing location; it is situated right in front of the kitchen window, adjacent to the dining room patio, and can be viewed from different vantage points from along the main garden walkway. Everyone who comes into the garden sees it, so I try (to the extent that I can, given the above mentioned issues) to have it looking good in the daytime. This, to me, means no nocturnally flowering plants, which is contrary to the advice often given for Moon Gardens. As we rarely sit on the patio at night anyway (mosquitoes are an issue), I see it as no great loss to not include them in my small garden. (I did originally try a mix of diurnal and nocturnal daylilies in the Moon Garden; let's just say that the combination did not show all that well during the daytime hours. However, whether registered as such or not, at least some of the daylilies in the Moon Garden are either extended bloomers (potentially still wide open for moonlight viewing) or early morning openers (which may be at least partly open pre-dawn.))

The photo below was taken in 2010, by daylight. Foreground are the Shasta daisy 'Ice Star' and Hemerocallis 'Gadsden Icicle'; background are Penstemon 'Holly's White' (or whatever its proper name is) and a sunburnt Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'.



Finally (and I hesitated to show them, because of the noxious wire cages and brown leaves (I originally took these for myself only)), are two images from 6-24 of this year (2013). The reason I include them is to show that near-white daylilies, in comparison to true white flowering plants, can be surprisingly colorful (a fact that daylily lovers are keenly aware of, but which non-enthusiasts may not be). Next to true white flowers, near-white daylily blooms may appear pale yellow, cream, or pale melon. This, in combination with variegated or colored foliage plants, leads to a subtle but pleasing tapestry of color in the daytime viewing hours.

On the first image, the daylilies clockwise from upper left are Hemerocallis 'White Stripe' (which has the bonus of (unstably) variegated foliage), 'Sacrament of Healing', and 'Spacecoast Cream Supreme'. Also shown (clockwise from lower left) are Salvia 'Heatwave Glimmer', Heuchera ‘Crème de Menthe’, Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash', and Pelargonium 'Rocky Mountain White'. (The bit of red is from the 'Neon Purple' cultivar of the Tango (trademarked) line of Pelargonium plants. I like little bits of color on the outskirts of the Moon Garden proper.)

Thumb of 2013-07-11/Polymerous/9c978d

A slight change of angle shows the two previously mentioned Pelargoniums, Hemerocallis 'Sacrament of Healing', the variegated Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash', and the variegated Miscanthus 'Morning Light'.



As with all gardens, plants come and go or get moved, depending on how well they fare, or pair. Throughout the year, I have other plants in the Moon Garden which contribute to the show in their proper season, including bearded irises, daffodils, Dianthus, a mis-named Erica, Loropetalum 'Snow Dance', dahlias, white flowered society garlic, and assorted annuals. But to me, the height of the Moon Garden is in summer, and the near-white daylilies are the stars.

(A follow-up edit: I found some old notes on my computer, to the effect that the small flowered (non daisy) plants fronting the daylilies in the dusk images are Nemesia 'Vanilla Sachet'.)
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
[Last edited by Polymerous - Jul 12, 2013 5:23 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jul 11, 2013 7:52 PM CST
Oh, that is lovely! I can see you're going to create a lot of interest in Moon Gardens! Thanks so much for putting the effort into sharing this with us!
Have you seen the Image Sets feature yet? (It's under the Webapps tab) It would be wonderful if you were willing to take the time to label and post your photos there. Take a look at what others have posted there, and think about it! Smiling
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Medina, TN (Zone 7b)
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clintbrown
Jul 11, 2013 7:52 PM CST

Moderator

I love this idea. I will be making one of these gardens when I fence in the back yard! Thanks for the information. Hurray!

I just saw this image when I Googled "Moon Garden". It would be so cool to have a moon sculpture like this one...
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2257/2175320391_216afef538.jp...
[Last edited by clintbrown - Jul 11, 2013 7:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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NJBob
Jul 11, 2013 8:03 PM CST

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Welcome!
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
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Polymerous
Jul 11, 2013 10:37 PM CST
Hi, Woofie - I didn't know about the image set thing, so thanks. I added the photos from this thread, and a couple more.
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Jul 12, 2013 5:25 AM CST
Hurray!
I found you
And WOW !! that is a beautiful garden.
I didn't even know there were night-blooming daylilies.


Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Jul 12, 2013 7:39 AM CST
Oh, Wow! You've been busy with those Image Sets, Polymerous! Outstanding! Thanks so much! Thumbs up
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Jul 12, 2013 8:44 AM CST
I agree
Nice image sets.

When I enlarge your low light photos they look great . Any photo tips?Do you use a tripod?
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Jul 12, 2013 9:37 AM CST
There are some nocturnal daylilies, yes. They begin opening in the evening (or late afternoon). The problem is that by the middle of the next day, the blooms have deteriorated, and have started to close. They do not make a pretty picture in the afternoon garden, when compared to the diurnal daylilies (all of whose blooms are open and still in good condition). Since my garden has to look good during the day, I ended up removing the nocturnals.

(Years ago, I read an excerpt from a round robin entry, from someone who had Hemerocallis citrina, which is a fragrant nocturnal daylily species. (All "modern" daylilies, and all of the daylilies in my garden, are hybrids.) This individual had it planted right outside their bedroom window, so that in the summer, with the window open, he could (as I recall) "rise up at night and smell the blooms". Lol! I guess that might have been his twist on a daylily in a Moon Garden!)

Regarding the photos at dusk... yes, I had to use a tripod. I did try taking the photos without one (all these photos are from digital cameras), but the shutter has to stay open for so long that it was impossible to hold the camera rock steady throughout, with the end result that all of the handheld images were blurred.

(Apart from being pleased at the interest this topic has generated, I have to say that I am also somewhat amused... at myself. I had long wanted to write an article for the Daylily Journal (or at least, our regional daylily newsletter) on this subject, but could never get enough varied pictures together (because of deer raids, gopher raids (last year was a nightmare for gophers), the irrigation issues, re-layout of that garden area, and so on - not to mention daylilies coming and going). My husband knew of my interest and desire to get low light images, so he bought the tripod for me for just that purpose - taking those garden pictures at dusk. I never thought that I would end up discussing the Moon Garden (in detail) or publishing the images on an online forum, though. I guess I just couldn't wait any longer to talk about all of this. Lol!)
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
[Last edited by Polymerous - Jul 12, 2013 9:39 AM (+)]
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jul 12, 2013 10:06 AM CST
Thanks for reviving an old interest of mine, and welcome to ATP, Polymerous. Last fall I had the somewhat brilliant, but hesitant, idea to create a Moon Garden using plants I already had, with some emphasis on foliage as well as blooms. Here's the article I wrote about its beginning: http://garden.org/ideas/view/Sharon/967/Garden-Makeovers-Moo...

It's still a work in progress; I continue to move plants or mark them to be moved. I'm inspired by your enthusiasm and by your lovely images. When I've survived this hot humid summer, I'll get right back to work on mine - no doubt adding to it from your images and your suggestions. It's great to find others who share a gardening interest; this will be one of my favorite threads. Smiling

Thanks again!
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Jul 12, 2013 10:54 AM CST
Gorgeous!

Your top post could be an article or "Idea". Maybe just a one-line article with a link to this thread.

(I notice it already has 100 views, so there must be a lot of interest).
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Jul 12, 2013 12:18 PM CST
I agree
When I read the first post I was thinking Moon garden article Smiling
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Jul 12, 2013 4:50 PM CST
Welcome! Welcome! ..Beautiful Moon Gardens!
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
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Polymerous
Jul 12, 2013 5:24 PM CST
I went through some old garden journal notes last night, and was able to verify that the small flowered (non daisy) plants fronting the daylilies in the two dusk images are Nemesia 'Vanilla Sachet'.

Sharon, thanks for that link to your thread. I really like your variegated vinca! (We have a creek (the city calls it a drainage ditch) running smack through the middle of our back yard. We had both creek banks covered with blue flowered, non-variegated vinca, but changes in irrigation systems resulted in a huge dieback, and we are only just now beginning to recover from that. I love seeing the blue flowers in the spring, though.)

Here is a list of other plants (than those previously discussed) that we currently have in the Moon Garden:

Bearded irises 'Arctic Express' and 'Hidden Surprise' (the latter will probably be replaced, perhaps by 'Nordica')

('Arctic Express')

Iberis
Narcissus 'Misty Glen'
Cerastium tomentosum
White flowered society garlic plants Tulbaghia violacea 'The Pearl' and 'Alba'

Nigella hispanica 'African Bride' (a good self-sower)

('African Bride')


a mislabeled, spring blooming white flowered Erica (it turns somewhat reddish in cold weather, bringing some color to the Moon Garden)
Loropetalum chinense 'Snow Dance'
white-flowering Lantana (on the raised bed wall above/behind the garden)
various Shasta daisies including 'Ice Star' and unknown/mislabeled cultivars (the gophers got the 'Darling Daisy' - DRAT!)
volunteer white flowered Gaura
variegated Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (which needs to be moved as during bloom time it competes with the daffodils)
Dianthus 'Greystone' and 'Fancy Knickers'

Dahlias 'Prince Charming' and 'Eveline'

Thumb of 2013-07-13/Polymerous/7bd6a0 ('Eveline')

Gerbera jamesonii ‘Drakensburg Daisy’
Rosa 'Marie Bugnet' (bought solely because of its deer resistance; I will probably replace it, and/or add other roses once the deer fence is in)
Nemesia ('Vanilla Sachet' all but died out; I added 3 plants of 'Refined Innocence' this spring)
A variegated Euonymous (iirc it is 'White Jade') which I have been trying to grow for a year now (but something keeps eating it)

various white flowered annuals (small bedding dahlias, vinca, Alyssum 'Snow Crystals' - generally whatever strikes my fancy and I have the space available and energy to go plant)

* edited to add the name of the recently added Nemesia
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
[Last edited by Polymerous - Jul 13, 2013 3:42 PM (+)]
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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Jul 19, 2013 2:44 PM CST
August Frost
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White Stallion
Wild Horses
Snickefritz (I don't know how to spell that one!)

These are white daylilies that I have that are good performers for me.
I would image that cream or soft pink would also be nice in a moon garden. Of course most daylilies are not really white, they usually have a tint of pink or cream to them.
Trumpet lilies would add height and scent to a moon garden and many of them are white or cream.

I think white crepe myrtle would be a nice way to add height and texture and some size to the garden and there are some that bloom white. I bought one called white diamond at Home Depot and it has nearly black foliage with white blooms. A white lilac would be pretty in the spring and fragrant.
I planted some gourd seeds one year and they bloomed white, kind of looked like a morning glory. I don't remember if it smelled or not, but it attracted luna moths. Those very large fuzzy mint green colored moths. It was really neat to see. They only come out after dark and it is my understanding that they lack mouth parts or something like that and they only live long enough to breed and then die. I'm not sure however what they look like as a caterpillar or what they need to feed on.
There are some tall garden phlox varieties that are white. Peony and climbing roses would also be nice and add fragrance. I think running water would be nice in a moon garden also. Maybe with a couple of solar lights on it so you could just see the water a little as it trickles.

South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Jul 23, 2013 4:45 PM CST
Frillylilly, thanks for your comments and suggestions. While running water might be nice, we probably will not do a fountain or any such water feature. Not only does my husband not like such things (and the water would constantly be evaporating here in our climate), but we already have a creek cutting through the property, and a pool at the north end. I guess I am saying that we have water features enough.

Regarding taller things...

At one edge of the Moon Garden, adjacent to the house, we have the white flowering crepe myrtle 'Natchez'. It is a vigorous grower; we have to keep hacking it back, or else it would completely cover our kitchen window.

Around the base of the crepe myrtle, we have a jasmine ground cover. That provides a small amount of fragrance to the Moon Garden. (The 'White Stripe' daylily is planted just at the edge of the jasmine; in the second to the last photo of the original post, if you click on the photo and look at it, you can see the tiny jasmine blooms in the upper left corner.)

We are partway through deer fencing our property (a task which has some challenging issues and which we really don't want to do, as we fear the garden will take on a "concentration camp" look once the creek banks are fenced). The deer raids have decreased somewhat with their favorite entry point at the back hillside fenced, but we are still not deer proof so long as the creek banks are open. All of the plants (except for the daylilies and the blooms of the Pelargoniums and Gerbera) which I currently have in the Moon Garden, are there because the deer leave them alone.

In anticipation of finishing the deer fencing (the fence contractors are MIA and we may have to call someone else), I have started making some changes to the garden overall.

I have two somewhat "deer proof" roses in the Moon Garden, 'Baby Ballerina' (which is actually just outside the Moon Garden) and also 'Marie Bugnet'. They are both on their second year here. 'Baby Ballerina' is turning out to be a ground swallowing thug, so I may dig and recycle that to a bare spot on our back hillside. 'Marie Bugnet' has white flowers, but not a lot of them. (There is what appears to be a seedling of the plant growing vigorously right next to it, though....but no blooms there.) I am going to put in two 'Flower Carpet White' shrubs at the entrance to the Moon Garden, and I have 'Saratoga' (which I had to buy just for the name, but it has white flowers) on order. That last may replace 'Marie Bugnet'.

Anything additional (beyond what we already have) tall or climbing would really be out of place in this garden spot, though, not to mention that such would block views of the back from the house. We do have an ornamental crab apple planted smack in the middle of the Moon Garden, which is the only non-near-white flowering thing that is not on the periphery. (Yes, I know... a garden designer suggested it when we were doing the huge landscaping job on our property, and I wasn't really thinking about the flower color (rather, the leaf color) when the contractor got and planted it. In retrospect, the white flowered crepe myrtle should have gone smack into the middle of the Moon Garden, and the crab apple next to the house. It is much too late to try to dig and move the crepe myrtle now, though, and I don't want another one of those.)

This is actually the second such crab apple tree in that spot, as the first succumbed to disease. The second one isn't doing all that well either; it is still alive, and maybe has grown a little, but I am having my doubts about it. If we end up taking it out (which might, perhaps, be a good thing; if the tree thrived, it might end up being too big for that spot, blocking not only house views, but also shading parts of the Moon Garden), then perhaps I can put in a taller white flowered shrub, or else a small white flowered tree (maybe some kind of weeping sakura), in there.

I should mention that my line of Gaura above the creek bank has been throwing volunteers like crazy this year. Normally we just pull the volunteer seedlings, as I have had no success transplanting them when small. This year, however, we left some to grow in place, and they are flowering now. I transplanted one of these larger seedlings into the Moon Garden, underneath the crab apple, and it is thriving and blooming beautifully in that spot. I may dig and move some of the others into the Moon Garden, too. (But what I really need are more large flowered things, and something which will be shade tolerant but also not too high... more like a ground cover. My creeping Euonymous is constantly being eaten by something (maybe the rabbits?). I am considering whether or not to replace it with a variegated ivy... or perhaps there is a white flowering perennial vinca?)
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
Dances with Dirt
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gardengus
Aug 22, 2013 5:17 AM CST
Blue moon last night
Hope every one spent some time in the garden Smiling
It was a beautiful night.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 22, 2013 11:51 AM CST
Indeed it was, although the moon here was just a nice bright white moon. Lucky you! I personally love it when we get the ring around the moon. First time I ever saw that was after we moved here, and it just blew my mind! My husband had obviously seen the effect before and couldn't understand why I was so excited! Hilarious!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Aug 22, 2013 12:04 PM CST
Alas, I didn't get to spend last night in the garden, nor will I be able to tonight (at least, not until after I pick up my husband from the airport, and after we go out to dinner).

I hope to post a couple more photos in a few days. (I've been too busy to photo edit.)
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Aug 22, 2013 12:14 PM CST
I woke up at 3 am and saw a bright white line slanting across a wall. I maneuvered my eye into that slice of light and saw the full Moon high in sky, angling in through a skylight.

Really bright!

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