Lawn and Garden

Enjoy the calming effect of a moonlight garden

by Georgette F. Plaugher, WVU Extension Visiting Instructor, Preston County

moonlight-garden Are your workdays so long you can’t enjoy your garden? Designing and planting a moonlight garden just might be the solution. These gardens focus on using light-colored, fragrant flowers and plants that can be enjoyed long after the sun goes down.

Moonlight gardens are also known as “white,” “evening,” and “twilight” gardens. The most famous are the White Gardens of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England, designed by Vita Sackville-West.


Color—or more specifically the absence of color—is the key component of a moonlight garden. Light-colored flowers and plants appear to “glow” in the dark. Our visual perception draws us to them.

To create such a garden, plant monochromatic (white, off-white, gray, silver, and yellow) flowers and foliage, choosing varieties with “Alba” in the name.


Fragrance, the second component, is an added bonus in a moonlight garden. Aromas are stronger at night since scents do not evaporate in cooler temperatures as they do during the heat of the day.


Sound is the final component. Manmade or natural babbling brooks and fountains attract wildlife during the day and provide cooling and calming effects at night. Pools of water also reflect moonlight.

moonlight-garden-2 When planning a moonlight garden, select areas of the yard that will receive maximum moonlight at night and six hours of sunlight during the day. When the moon is dark or obscured by clouds, you may want to add indirect light such as solar garden lights or miniature white lights to make the garden brighter.

Be careful to scatter fragrant plants throughout the garden. If they are clumped in one location, the combined overpowering scents will overwhelm you.

Keep in mind that all white gardens will fade with time. To have bloom from spring to fall, plant a combination of annuals and perennials.

A well-designed moonlight garden that focuses on sight, smell, and sound has a calming effect. Sitting in the garden after a long, stressful day will restore your soul.

Suitable Varieties for Moonlight Gardens in West Virginia


Cosmos, snap dragon, sunflower, baby’s breath, impatiens, moonflower, sweet alyssum, and petunia


shasta daisy, astilbe, obedient plant, lily of the valley, dicentra, clematis, echinacea, Asiatic lily, daffodil, tulip, rose, peony, lungwort, hosta, and painted fern

Trees and Shrubs:

serviceberry, azalea, camellia, dogwood, butterfly bush, lilac, hydrangea, magnolia, mock orange, wisteria, hibiscus, euonymus, and flowering cherry, pear, or crabapple


feather reed grass, Japanese silver grass, and pampas grass