Night Garden in the Southwest

Night time is a truly magical time during our Southwestern summers. As the blazing sun sinks below the horizon and the air begins to cool off, a number of native plants open their flowers, looking lovely in the moonlight, drenching the night air with alluring fragrances, and enticing the night-flying pollinators.

Flowers can look entirely different at night – gently lit.

Moon Garden

Over a year ago I (Jacqueline Soule) introduced the topic of a “Moon Garden,” listing a number of plants that attract the night-flying Southwest pollinators. That said, a moon garden need not have flowers to be attractive. There are a number of plants with silvery foliage that look lovely at night in the moonlight.

The silvery teeth on desert spoon glimmer in the moonlight

A moon garden can be fancy or simple. The idea is to add plants to your landscape that will increase your enjoyment of the space anytime after the sun goes down, whether the moon is out or not. You create a space to go outside, sit down, and let the cool air and slower pace of a Southwest summer night seep into your soul.

Tea lights will be bright enough after dark. Instead of waxy candles, use the battery driven ones for a cooler, safer light.


Kill the Bright Lights

The last thing you need in your moon garden is mood-killing “Stalig-17” lights shining in your eyes from the eaves of the house. Even a yellow porch light can be overly bright. A few low-level path lights shining downward are fine. A lantern or two with tea lights is also lovely.

Yes – when you first step outside from your brightly lit home it will seem dim, but give your eyes a few minutes to adjust. The starlight shimmer of silvery leaves can be quite bright given time.

White crapemyrtle blooms look lovely in the night – and grow well in much of the Southwest.

Sit and Smell the Flowers

In addition to plants, one of the most important components of a moon garden is a place to sit and enjoy your garden. Bench or chair, edge of the garden or center of it – there is no right or wrong; just make sure seating is comfortable. We discovered that a place to set drinks and snacks next to the seating is a nice addition.

There is no specific design for a moon garden. You can start small, add a few night blooming plants and some relaxing seating. As time goes by and you use your moon garden, add to it. Create a yard you can enjoy every day of the year, and all 24 hours of the day.

A decorative light with a low-light LED bulb can light the gateway and add a nice touch to the landscape. The tree is called bottle brush.

Question for You!

I have enough material to write a “Southwest Moon Garden” book. This book would feature low-water and fragrant native plants for your landscape that look lovely in the twilight. Sadly, publishers feel the fastest growing region of the United States still does not have enough book buyers in it. Please let us know in the comments below if I should create an online class for you folks.

Do select garden lighting features that mesh well with your overall design.

Speaking of online classes, did you know that we offer this one?

Boost Your Curb Appeal (Night Time is the Right Time)

A scant decade ago, curb appeal was all about how a home looked when you pulled up to the curb – during the daytime of course. Now so many people look at homes for sale on their computers, at night, and in the comfort of their own home. With this in mind, some photos of a lovely landscape to enjoy after dark – when people are done with the days work – can truly help sell a home. More tips in our online class Boost Your Curb Appeal” link here. Class comes with a workbook, a cheat sheet, and a transcript.

To learn more about gardening in our unique Southwestern region, consider this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press).  This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there we may get a few pennies at no additional cost to you. Your favorite Amazon Smile charity can also benefit.

© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule.  All rights reserved.  You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. Also you must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.


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