By CCE Madison County Master Gardener Volunteer – Lynne Wechsler
The first day of summer is right around the corner! Almost six months into the year, June 21, 2022, is the astronomical start of summer as the sun reaches its highest point. Also known as the summer solstice, the sun does not change path for a couple of days. To be clear, although the sun is often referred to as moving, we all know that us earthlings are the ones moving as our planet orbits around the sun.
Two days later is midsummer eve on June 23, the shortest night, followed by midsummer day June 24, the longest day. But why is this time called ‘midsummer’ when it really isn’t mid-summer? Well, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, historically midsummer day is known as the midpoint of the growing season. Farmers have often recognized this as the time when they are halfway between planting and harvesting their crops. ‘Mid’ summer.
The summer solstice and midsummer give us long days to celebrate time outdoors with social gatherings and enjoyable activities, including appreciating the progress of our gardens. Our gardens in June are by now a mass of color. Budding and blooming abounds day by day. But have you considered a night garden of flowers to enjoy under the moon and stars? After the sun sets, the garden can become a magical place of its own.
Moonlight gardens generally consist of white flowers. White is a color made of all colors, represents freshness, and has many spiritual significances. White flowers in a moonlight garden can be seen in the reflection of the moon and stars and are usually fragrant, especially after a heavy dew. A moonlight garden can be a small space or take up an entire section of your yard. Ideally it should be placed near the house or porch to create space to sit and contemplate while savoring the sweet scents. Or consider a white gravel garden path bordered with white flowers leading to a pond or seating area for an evening stroll. The striking qualities of white flowers can be enchanting, relaxing, and restful.
Night-blooming flowers open when the sun goes down, or on cloudy days, or at midnight, depending on the variety. Consider plants in different sizes, structures, and various shades of white. Almost all flowers are available in white, so you can seek out your favorites when possible.
Here are some suggestions:
White blooming perennials Latin name ‘Cultivar’ (Common Name)
Paeonia lactiﬂora ‘Shirley Temple’ (Peony)
Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’ (Oriental Lily)
Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot White’ (Foxglove)
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’ (Valerian)
Clematis terniﬂora (Sweet Autumn Clematis)
White blooming annuals Latin name ‘Cultivar’ (Common Name)
Nicotiana alata ‘Jasmine’(Flowering Tabacco)
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sonata White’ (Cosmos)
Zaluzianskya capensis (Night Phlox)
Ipomoea alba (Moonflower)
Heliotropium arborescens ‘White Lady’ (Heliotrope)
Enjoy your midsummer and your moonlight garden!
Have gardening questions? CCE Madison’s Ag Team and Master Gardener Volunteers are here to help! If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer, there will be another training starting this fall. Call Patty Catalano at 315-684-3001 ext. 108. Be sure to follow us on Facebook @CCEMadison and make your way to our website for the most up to date program offerings www.madisoncountycce.org