September 8, 2013 in Features

White-flowering plants light up the night

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Gardener Rose Jacobus weeds in a portion of her garden near Spangle, where she cultivates mostly white flowering plants. She calls it a “moon garden” because it’s best viewed under a full moon, when the many white flowers catch the moonlight.
(Full-size photo)

More white-flowering plants

Anemone, Japanese

bleeding heart

Bulbs: Allium, crocuses, daffodils, fritillerias, hyacinths, narcissus, tulips

Coneflower

Cosmos*

Dahlia

Dusty Miller*

Feverfew

Foamflower

Goatsbeard

Gooseneck Loosestrife

hostas (white-flowering, or variegated foliage)

Impatiens*

Iris

Lamb’s Ears*

Masterwort

Moonflower*

Nicotiana*

Snow-in-Summer

* - Annuals

Two years ago, I wrote about Master Gardener Rose Jacobus and her large garden in southwest Spokane County. One of her newest projects was designing and planting a moon garden.

Moon gardens, also known as white gardens, get their name from being planted with white flowers that stand out in the moonlight. I thought it was time to check back with her and find out how her moon garden is coming along.

According to author Barbara Damrosch in “Theme Gardens” (Workman Publishing, 250 pp., $22.95), “A garden planted with only white flowers is by day a pleasing and unusual picture. By night it is enchantment. In the daylight it has a feeling of coolness and refinement. … In the moonlight the shapes of the flowers stand out as if they themselves were lights.”

Jacobus got the idea for her moon garden from a magazine.

“While I was reading about it, I thought a moon garden sounded kind of nice,” she said. “I made a list of the flowers I like, changed the design to fit what I wanted, and drew it to scale.”

Her moon garden comprises two beds shaped like crescent moons – both planted with white flowers – and a center bed in between them planted for contrast. It contains pink and red geraniums, pink roses and lavender, and has a weeping atlas cedar in the center.

The crescent-shaped beds are a mix of white-flowering perennials, biennials, annuals, shrubs, vines and a groundcover.

Perennial plants come up year after year. Jacobus has chosen campanula Clips White, candytuft, columbine, daylilies, delphiniums, dianthus, geraniums, Oriental lilies, peonies, phlox, sedum and Shasta daisies.

Biennials spend their first year developing a good root system, then send up a flower stalk and bloom the second year. Foxgloves and hollyhocks are two examples.

Annuals grow, bloom, set seed and die in a single season and provide a long bloom period. Jacobus selected white petunias and marigolds for her moon garden. She also has edged it with alyssum in previous years.

She has chosen some stunning white-flowering roses to complement the other plantings. Two climbing roses are Mrs. Herbert Stevens, with ivory-white blossoms, and Iceberg Climber, which is a repeat bloomer. Both are moderately fragrant, which adds to the moon garden experience, as do the lilies with their intoxicating perfume.

She also is growing Bull’s Eye rose, which has ivory flowers with a cranberry-red eye and is a repeat-bloomer; White Meidiland, a compact shrub rose with pure white blossoms; and Claire Austin, which is a David Austin English rose with fragrant, creamy-white flowers.

The display is rounded off with Incrediball hydrangeas and Vancouver Fragrant Star clematis vines.

What’s on her wish list?

“I’d like to find more white double Oriental lilies because I really like those,” she admitted. “And I’d like more single white peonies.”

While you’d think her plant needs would be hard on her budget, what you don’t know is that Jacobus is a whiz at plant propagation.

She excels at seed-starting, taking cuttings and getting most anything to grow. She has been known to start willows from twigs found in floral arrangements and other plants from neighbors’ prunings. And she has a keen eye for good deals.

“I propagate a lot of plants so that cuts way down on expenses,” she shared. “I watch for my favorite flowers to go on sale and keep an eye out for bargains. A lot of nurseries have closeout sales going on right now.”

She buys all of her seeds from the English seed company, Thompson & Morgan (www.tmseeds.com), and Park Seed (www.parkseed.com).

Like all gardeners, Jacobus has a few challenges to deal with in her garden.

“Trying to keep everything deadheaded and watered are two big ones,” she said. “Watering is challenging because the moon garden is planted on a slope. I have to water it every day when it’s hot and am in the process of adding a lot of compost and mulch to keep the soil from drying out.”

She also deals with gophers and voles in her garden but has had good success with two products, Repellex and MoleMax.

While she is considering expanding the size of her moon garden a bit, Jacobus feels it has performed as advertised in the gardening magazine that got her started.

“I like to see all of the beautiful white flowers, especially at night,” she said. “It’s so pretty on nights with a full moon. I can sit on the bench and just enjoy it. It really gives me a lot of peace.”

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at inthegarden@live.com. Visit her blog at susansinthe garden.blogspot.com for more gardening information.

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