When the sun begins to sit in the west and summer temperatures wane, you may venture into the garden and wish there was more to enjoy while the temperatures are a bit cooler.
In fact, you may venture into the garden after dark, when the moon is high in the sky! Just in time for the September Supermoon, my moonflowers are finally coming into their own.
Moonflower, Ipomea alba, is one of my favorite night blooming vines. Though I noted mine are not fragrant (though many report it to be), they are very pretty from dusk (about 6 p.m.) until sunrise. This is one annual vine I don’t mind tending to. In fact, I am collecting seed for next year as the flower pods dry and the seed is set. (Look for fat brownish pods at the base of the flower (moonflower has a very long style that leads to the ovary where the seeds form). You can pick seed up most anywhere, but this past winter I purchased mine from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri.
I plant some vines near my front porch, some near my back patio and some out on the trellis that connects two of my raised beds. I want to give myself and anyone else visiting the garden the best chance to see these beauties.
The moonflower photo above was taken about 10:00 p.m. at night. Moonflower is in the same family (Convulvulaceae) as morning glory, cardinal climber vine, and a few you probably cuss for popping up in your garden. The Missouri Botanical Garden provides good information on moonflower. Last night I was literally walking around at Midnight, in My Garden of Good and Evils. In fact, I went out barefoot and without a flashlight, holding just my camera. This proved to be a chuckle-worthy mistake as I stepped on something that moved and proceeded to spook myself (of course I had been watching Ghost Adventures and the Dead Files). Talk about a funny moon dance: when you step on something unseen and squishy that moves under your feet and you jump out of your skin.
In addition to moonflower, hummingbird ginger (Hedychium coronarium) is a highly fragrant, white blooming perennial that is lovely day and night. I was excited to find it in my south Mississippi patio garden when I moved into my house. White flowers seem to “glow” a bit more in the moonlight. Moon gardens are a fun way to extend your garden enjoyment, especially if you are into evening entertaining! The University of Florida Extension Service has a nice page on this ginger.
Be still as you observe fragrant flowers in your night garden and you might see the impressive hummingbird or sphinx moth (yes, it’s the more unique and somewhat beautiful adult form of the tomato hornworm!) as pictured above. This moth also loves my evening blooming four o’ clocks (Mirabilis spp.). Sadly, the winter of 2014 claimed my nightblooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), but fear not, for replacement is ahead for 2015. Check it out on Dave’s Garden.
The next time you look out onto your garden from your recliner, get up, put your shoes on, and remember as Van Morrison sings “It’s a marvelous night for a moon dance”.
“Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I’m trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush”
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The Garden Maiden 🙂
All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden