Lighting

Something gorgeous is happening in the garden, and for once, it has nothing to do with plants, it?s all about light. If you put a lot of money into plants, of course, you want to see them. This year garden lighting has become the season?s major trend to upgrade outdoor decor.

There is some background here:? Patio furniture design stopped being merely funky and moved to something approaching a modern high style several years ago. New materials created to withstand weather and sun damage, amazing new designers flinging themselves into the fray with radical ideas led the way. But this is the year that outdoor lighting has caught up to furniture design, in both sophistication and technology.

Technology gave us low voltage lights and LED (light emitting diode) lighting, which meant that lights can stay in place for years and years without having to be replaced. And, because they use such a small amount of electricity, they fulfill our ambitions to be green. Even the fixture designs themselves improved. But something else happened at the same time and that was the design of outdoor light.

The new ones have an almost fragile quality to them, reflecting a new romanticism in the garden. Out with mere security, lighting is now as subtle and dramatic as it is for the stage. No point in having great plants and furniture if you have crappy old lights.

Of course you?ll still have to light for safety (those dark alleys, brooding shrubs harbouring thugs), but the intense effort should go into making an ambiance that fits with the style of your garden. The lighting units themselves have gone way beyond the tacky looking elements which were once endemic to big box stores. There are now privacy screens with linear fixtures to light them up. Specific fixtures for tall grasses.? Tiny low voltage fixtures from faux Tiffany glass to cute frogs that pinpoint a small area.

The wonderful about putting anything in the garden is that we change our perception of it. Once there is the slightest bit of illuminations, the eyes move more easily over the landscape. Any plant can become a focal point. Even a wall lit up at night will become a sculptural object out there in another space.