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Moon, Sun and Shade Gardens

While sun and share gardens are often most known, another garden, namely, the moon garden, is gaining popularity - and for good reason! Let's take a look at the moon, sun and shade gardens in more detail.

A moon garden, also known as a white garden or night garden, is designed to be enjoyed primarily in the evening or at night. Moon gardens are carefully curated with plants that have pale or white flowers, light-coloured foliage, and sometimes fragrant blooms.

The goal of a moon garden is to create a serene and magical atmosphere under the light of the moon and stars.

Key features of a moon garden include:

  • White and Pale Flowers: Moon gardens predominantly feature plants with white, cream, or pale pastel-coloured flowers. These flowers are more visible and stand out in the low light conditions of the evening.

Light coloured flowers at night
Moon Garden
  • Light-Coloured Foliage: In addition to white flowers, plants with light-coloured or silvery foliage are often included. These leaves reflect the available moonlight, creating a soft and luminescent effect.

  • Fragrant Plants: Many moon gardens include fragrant blooms that are more potent in the evening. Fragrance adds an extra sensory dimension to the garden experience.

  • Night-Blooming Plants: Some moon gardens include plants that specifically bloom at night, such as night-blooming jasmine, evening primrose, or moonflower.

  • Reflective Elements: Moon gardens might incorporate reflective elements like white stones, mirrors, or light-coloured surfaces to enhance the play of moonlight.

  • Seating Areas: Comfortable seating areas are often placed strategically in moon gardens, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy the garden's tranquil beauty under the moonlit sky.

  • Lighting: While the primary illumination source is the moon, some moon gardens incorporate subtle and soft outdoor lighting to enhance the nighttime experience. This can include low-intensity solar lights or string lights.

  • Contrasting Foliage: To add depth and contrast, some moon gardens incorporate dark foliage plants or elements that provide a backdrop for the light-coloured and white plants.

  • Water Features: Ponds, fountains, or reflective water surfaces can add a touch of elegance and enhance the overall ambiance of a moon garden.

  • Nocturnal Wildlife: Moon gardens often attract nocturnal creatures like moths, bats, and certain insects, which can further enrich the nighttime experience.

Moon gardens are often designed with relaxation and contemplation in mind. They offer a unique way to experience a garden, focusing on the subtle beauty that emerges under the moon's soft glow. These gardens can be enjoyed after a long day, offering a peaceful and enchanting retreat to unwind and connect with nature.

Do you have light pollution in your garden? Check out this blog post on avoiding or minimizing light pollution for optimal enjoyment of your moon garden!

The Sun Garden

A sun garden, also known as a sunny garden, is specifically designed to take advantage of total sunlight exposure throughout the day. In a sun garden, plants are chosen that thrive in direct sunlight and can withstand the intense heat that comes with prolonged sun exposure. These gardens are often characterized by vibrant colours, vigorous growth, and various plants adapted to sunny conditions.

Red poppies lightened by the sun
Sun Garden

Key features of a sun garden include:

  • Total Sun Exposure: Sun gardens are typically located in landscape areas that receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. This allows for a diverse range of sun-loving plants to thrive.

  • Bright and Vibrant Colors: Many sun-loving plants have flowers and foliage that are brightly coloured, as these pigments help protect the plant from the sun's rays. Sun gardens often feature a dynamic mix of colours, creating an eye-catching and lively display.

  • Drought-Tolerant Plants: Since areas with full sun exposure can experience higher temperatures and faster moisture evaporation, many plants in sun gardens are chosen for their ability to tolerate drought conditions.

  • Heat-Tolerant Varieties: Plants in sun gardens are selected for their resilience to heat stress. These plants can handle the higher temperatures that come with prolonged sun exposure.

  • Flowering Annuals and Perennials: Sun gardens frequently include a variety of flowering plants, both annuals and perennials. These plants produce blooms throughout the growing season, providing continuous colour.

  • Grasses and Ornamental Foliage: Ornamental grasses and plants with interesting foliage textures and colours are often used to add depth and contrast to sun gardens.

  • Butterfly and Pollinator Plants: Many flowering plants in sun gardens attract pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. These plants contribute to the overall health of the garden ecosystem.

  • Rock Gardens: Some sun gardens incorporate rock or gravel elements, creating a xeriscape-style design that complements the sun-loving plants and reduces water requirements.

  • Well-Drained Soil: Proper drainage is crucial in a sun garden, as excessive water retention can lead to root rot. Plants that thrive in sandy or well-drained soil are commonly chosen.

  • Container Plants: In areas where the soil quality or conditions aren't ideal, container gardening can create a sun garden. Containers allow for better control of soil composition and drainage.

  • Vertical Features: Trellises, arbours, and other vertical structures can be integrated into sun gardens to support climbing plants and add visual interest.

A sun garden is perfect for individuals who have a sunny area in their landscape and want to create a vibrant, lively, and colourful outdoor space. Careful plant selection, soil preparation, and maintenance are essential to ensure that the plants in the sun garden thrive in the conditions provided.

The Shade Garden

A shade garden is a type of garden that is designed to thrive in areas with limited or dappled sunlight. These gardens are typically located under trees, near buildings, or where structures and vegetation create shade. Shade gardens often feature plants adapted to low-light conditions. They can flourish without the intense direct sunlight that many other plants require.

House with a bridge surrounded by large trees and shrubs
Shade Garden

Key features of a shade garden include:

  • Limited Sunlight: Shade gardens receive less than 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily, usually filtered or dappled.

  • Cooler Temperatures: Shaded areas are cooler than areas exposed to direct sunlight. This can create a more comfortable environment for certain plants that are heat-sensitive.

  • Leafy and Textured Plants: Shade gardens often emphasize foliage over flowers, as many shade-loving plants have interesting leaf textures, shapes, and colours.

  • Moisture Retention: Shaded areas retain moisture better than sunny areas, which can be advantageous for plants that prefer consistent soil moisture.

  • Ferns and Hostas: Ferns and hostas are common choices for shade gardens due to their lush foliage and ability to thrive in low light conditions.

  • Ground Covers: Many shade gardens incorporate ground cover plants to create a lush carpet of foliage under trees and other shaded areas.

  • Wildflowers: Some wildflowers, such as trilliums and bleeding hearts, are well-suited to shade gardens and can add pops of colour.

  • Tolerant of Dampness: Shaded areas can sometimes be damp due to reduced evaporation. Plants that tolerate or even prefer damp soil are often chosen for shade gardens.

  • Limited Flowering: While some shade plants produce flowers, flowering might be less frequent or less vibrant than sun-loving plants.

  • Moss and Moss Gardens: In deeply shaded areas, moss gardens can be created to embrace the natural beauty of mosses.

  • Container Gardens: Containers and hanging baskets can be used in shade gardens to add visual interest and bring plants closer to eye level.

  • Pathways and Seating Areas: Shade gardens can be designed with paths and seating areas to create a serene and calm retreat.

  • Reflective Surfaces: Light-colored surfaces, such as white stones or light-coloured mulch, can help maximize the available light in shade gardens.

  • Vertical Interest: Shade gardens can include plants that provide vertical interest, such as tall ferns, climbing vines, or trellised plants.

Creating a successful shade garden involves selecting plants well-suited to low light conditions, preparing the soil appropriately, and providing consistent moisture. By carefully choosing shade-loving plants and arranging them in an aesthetically pleasing manner, you can create a lush and inviting garden space even in areas with limited sunlight.

And remember, wherever possible, plant native!


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