Narcissus is one of the flowers that decorate the the Taj Mahal’s. Unfortunately for us, the British of the Raj did away with the original garden and replaced it with their idea of paradise on earth–green and boring.
Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

Kalimeris pinatifida Hortensis, orphanage plant

Phlox paniculata ‘David’

Lilium Casablanca


Moon gardens are a Victorian invention or are they? Long before crescent-shaped flower beds planted with white flowers appeared in Europe, there were gardens intended as places where to worship the moon goddess. Persia, India and China all had moon gardens predated Vita Sackville-West’s famous moon garden at Sissinghurst Castle by centuries. The lotus blossoms carved on the white marble spires of the Taj Mahal seem to me the most enduring of moon gardens. The living flowers Shah Jahan caused to be planted in the Taj’s garden–jasmine, roses, daffodils–must suffice for those of us whose princes lack a Mogul emperor’s budget.
Finding out which roses were available during Shah Jahan’s time is a a pleasant prospect that involves e-mailing Michael Shoup, of Antique Roses Emporium. Zimmerman and McClure, purveyors of that lovely narcisssus, the little known obesus, are the right folks to query about heritage bulbs. As for jasmine, those of us in Zone 6 must be content with Jasminum granduflorum ‘single’, the poet’s jasmine, but gardeners in warmer climates–say, Zone 9–can opt for the intensely perfumed Jasminum sambac ‘Duke of Tuscany’ known in my native country as bogari ( from the Sanskrit mbogari.)
Any of the flowers pictured above perform well in a moon garden. Add lamb’s ears, achilea Moonshine, white roses–Sombreuil is an excellent choice–hosta Sum and Substance and you are all set. Rose petal sherbet, Persian poetry and dark eyed swain optional.

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