Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night

Herb Borage flowering (4)Jill Henderson Show Me Oz:  Often associated with the mystical, moon gardens have been lighting up the night for thousands of years. Adored by lovers and philosophers, these midnight gardens were places of secrecy and silence, contemplation and meditation, ritual and ceremony. The moon has always given mankind a reason to look towards the heavens in search of answers and inspiration. The cool solid stillness of night is the perfect venue to relax and reflect. The moon garden provides just such a place. It is no wonder moon gardens have become not only a popular gardening theme, but a true place of peace.

To our ancestors, the roundness and luminosity of the moon spoke primarily to the feminine form and the moon became a goddess of fertility and bounty, a keeper of time, and the mother of all living things. Many cultures paid homage to the moon in the form of deities such as the Greek Selene and Artemis, the Roman Diana, the African Maou and the Aztec Coyolxauhqui. Both beautiful and mysterious, the moon’s soft femininity was countered by a vengeful power strong enough to push and pull the waters of earth and the cycles of life. Those who worshiped the moon clearly understood this force quite well, performing traditional rituals and ceremonies to honor and appease her.

In ancient times moon gardens were not just for aristocrats, poets and stargazers; they were places filled with valuable medicinal herbs used in the healing arts and religious rituals. Monks, shamans, doctors and granny women have long been recognized for their contributions to the wealth of knowledge in the use of plants as medicines. Like many farmers of the day, these healers knew that seed should be sown in the light of a full moon and that root crops are best harvested under a waning moon when the energy of the plant is being drawn back down into the earth. This affects not only the plants, but the potency and effectiveness of medicines made from them. With the moon playing such a critical role in the growing and harvesting of plants and herbs for food and medicine, it’s no wonder that moon gardens came to be not only functional places, but places of sanctuary.

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Moon gardens are as old as the mythology surrounding the moon. Little is known about their true origins or when they were first intentionally cultivated. It was most likely a natural progression from an average daytime garden to one that included plants whose bright reflective colors illuminated the darkness all around them, dispelling certain fears and scenting the night air. After all, what better place to meet friends or a lover than in a beautiful garden in the evening when the heat of a summer’s day has slipped away? Like our early ancestors, we too have need of such spaces. Whether you want a special place to gather with friends or loved ones, or a retreat for quiet contemplation, the moon garden simply shines.

Growing your own slice of heaven need not be a complicated affair. And whether you decide to incorporate a few select moon garden plants into an existing flower or herb garden, or create a full-scale masterpiece, only one thing really matters: that you make it a place that you will enjoy.

If you are like me, you’re ready to know which herbs and flowers work best in a moon garden, but we’ve run out of time today.  Tune in next week for a huge list of moon garden herbs plus more tips and tricks for planting your moon garden!  Make sure you don’t miss the next post by following me on FacebookTwitter or via email by signing up at the top of the page.

To read all three installments in this series:

Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night

Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 2)

Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 3)

© 2017 Jill Henderson  Feel free to share the link!

Show Me Oz | Living and loving life in the Ozarks!
Gardening, foraging, herbs, homesteading, slow food, nature, and more!

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Learn how to grow and use the world’s oldest, safest, and most medicinal herbs with this easy step-by-step guide!  From starting seeds to preparing home remedies, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs is a treasured resource that you will turn to time and time again.

Available in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.
Look inside!

Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.  Jill is a contributing author for Acres USA and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.

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10 responses to “Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night

  1. Never thought about it before, even though as a Muslim and permaculture gardener the moon is a huge part of my life. I realise now I once had a very nice moon garden by accident, many years past in another life and place. My home now has potential in one spot where we already often watch the moon. Looking forward to hearing about plant suggestions Jill.

  2. I’m so glad you rediscovered your deep connection to the moon garden, Rabbit! They can be truly spectacular places. I’m working on tomorrow’s post right now, so stay tuned for more info!

  3. Thank you. Hey that was weird. When I first came onto this page it showed what I think is the next article, it began with “Borage” and then when the page settled down, it is back to the original article. ?

  4. Pingback: Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 2) | Show Me Oz

  5. Pingback: Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 3) | Show Me Oz

  6. Regarding flowers that bloom at night, I have an interesting story to tell. During WWII my Mom and I stayed at home in the Midwest while my dad was in Washington D.C. She and I decided to plant three vines at the posts at the front of the house. (We had a victory garden in the back and kept rabbits and turtles full of tomatoes!?) Anyway, the vines grew and the red one and the blue one had flowers but the middle one, none. What was the matter with the leafy vine for white in the middle?? Once when my dad was home for a visit we were out later at night and returning home, smelled this lovely fragrance and then saw large white flowers on the central post. Success! It was a moonflower blooming and it kept pace with the red and blue all Summer. Success for the Red, White and Blue!

    • Thanks Pat! What a great story and a great idea for landscaping, too! I grow them up the chimney pipe just off my back porch so we can see and smell them at night from our living room! It does take a while for them to bloom – much longer than morning glories, but the wait is so worth it!

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