I’ve been helping out at a very old house in recent weeks – one that opens up to the public on occasions throughout the year. They have a wonderful garden that is famous for dahlias and their herbaceous borders. The house has only been owned outright by three families over the years but in the 1920s an american couple with strong political aspirations took the house on a ten year lease and piled much of their personal wealth into it’s upgrading and decoration. This extended to the gardens. The lovely thing about gardens in big houses is the lighting they can afford to put in for those evening guests! It is so beautiful and the experts always put the lamps in exactly the right place to highlight this tree or that shrub. The light and shadows they create are so atmospheric. It makes lighting up a domestic garden so very civilised don’t you know!
It can sometimes be a bit of a worry choosing the right knd of garden furniture to suit the surroundings and the type of weather we’re going to get. In a small surburban back yard with just a patch of green lawn, the best idea is to have space saving table and either stacking chairs, or ones that slot underneath the table without taking up any room. If a walled space only, then houw about having a bench built against the sunniest wall – takes up far less room than separate units but allows a little sunbathing. In a larger garden with various separate areas, I know of one garden agency who has implemented different styles of patio sets in amongst the shrubs and trees. For safety and feature enhancement, an outdoor lighting scheme has been installed. It’s fantastic, lots of different areas all beautifully displayed.
You cannot imagine how dark some gardens are until you move out to the countryside, to one that backs on to the wooded area of a manor house. No street lights, no other houses in fact. That is dark! For the discerning buyer, this will not be a problem. To get the outside of the house sufficiently illuminated, it is a question of engaging the services of a professional garden and outdoor lighting consultant. Someone who really does know his business. the safety side is critical of course, there is nothing more dangerous in any garden situation than the combination of damp, water, ponds, and electrical wiring. The siting of lights is also very important, in a country setting this needs to be subtle so as not to cause light pollution and also the beauty of the trees, shrubs and other landscaping need careful emphasis at different times during the year.
My daughter has reently moved house from a neat and easy to maintain starter home in a town to a much larger and pretty stone conversion out in the sticks – almost, but not quite in the middle of nowhere. One of the most obvious changes to their lifestyle has been the lack of light pollution. It is absolutely fabulous to walk down the lane from their house, look up at the sky and see clear darkness. No street lights, no neighbours with fiearce security lighting that blinds you from 300 metres. It is very curious how we are able to adjust to this lack of light and our eyes do naturally do this to allow us to gradually see what we need. A nearby stately home is in mid restoration and the owner occupies less tan a quarter of the place – but he does light up the bit in use which is beautiful to see.
I have been out and about on m travels lately, lots of popping in to see country gardens – usually those attached to luscious country houses. They have such a beauty and I do love to get inspiration from the way the huge borders are set out and mini arboretums spring up after years of tree saplings being planted with gushing enthusiasm. Another thing about a bigger garden space, with nicely clipped lawn paths and trees set back, there is usually plenty of light to see everything at once. In my garden in the winter, there are shadows from fences, next door’s house, my greenhouse etc. The shrubs could look truly splendid if I had them lit from different angles. This is where a specialist garden lighting company will come into its own. As all schemes will need expert installation I shall book a consultation. Guiding me to see the light as it were !
My Christmas was spent in the middle of the nowhere – quite literally. The cottage was stunning, it’s somewhere I visit regularly throughout any year, more usually in the summer. The remoteness is totally appealing. No light pollution and being surrounded by just fields, some with trees crowding the picket fencing as far as the eye can see. It is hard to imagine a more idyllic spot on earth. When we’d finished lunch, we wandered into the conservatory with our coffees and of course, at Christmas it got dark at 3pm! This is where the wonderment came in – my hosts have installed fantastic garden lighting. It looks stunning and has been carefully planned and a scheme devised with the help of this fantastic bunch of professionals. There are gaduated beams from ground up, into the tall trees and different beams on the chalet style shed, with downward beams coming down from other trees. Absolute magic!
We have just had a tremendous storm – the visciousness of that wind took everyone by surprise, although the weather presenters have been banging on about this one for some time. I had a few plants potted up on the large patio table which I hoped had enough building around it to stop any stray gusts taking off with my newly propogated babies. Only a couple of items hit the deck with more speed than might be safe. The fence panels were wobbling horribly when I looked out in the night – this is something you can’t really do a great deal about – to replace unsteady posts, you need to demolish the panels, so you might as well have a fencing contractor come in and replace the posts and two or three surrounding panels. The lighting is most carefully watched over – it is our pride and joy and was professionally installed – it lights our life in so many ways !
Now that autumn has slunk by and in fact, winter is on it’s way, all thoughts of lovely relaxed summer gardening seem to be side lined. I have a chap come over to give me a hand with mine, just a fortnightly visit but regular and so very helpful. We were discussing everything that will need to be carried out on his next visit, and what I can do in the meantime.
My garden is rather small, I’ve never considered lighting, but my chum came up with a couple of really super ideas to extend my season for the lovely plants I have managed to acquire and propogate from. Instead of just closing off the curtains at 4pm every day, I have a small number of exterior lights that pick out the best features, a couple of splendid trees and specialist shrubs that look now fantastic in that light. Truly inspiring.
One of the joys of going to different parts of the country for short family breaks is the chance to look around different historic houses and castles – many a happy hour has been spent doing just that and I have seen some truly amazing gardens along the way. All the professional gardens have their planting schemes, maybe a massive lake with a mass of water lillies proudly bobbing their heads for all to sea. What is always a fascination for me is the lighting scheme in each – almost every one involves lighting of some sort or another.
Lighting in gardens is definitely a professional task – as is any lighting for that matter. The prospect of an unexpected mix of electricity and rainy weather needs the legal touch to ensure safety to all. A good garden lighting supplier will provide advice and technical information to help you get the best scheme installed for you.
One of the greatest joys of being more available these days is that of going around heritage houses and gardens. My word there are some stunning places to see and of course, they all have their own way of displaying their favourite parts to the public. I was particularly taken with a property in Derbyshire last summer when my daughter and I took a couple of days in a cottage nearby. We chanced upon this very ancient property through my membership of a particular heritage scheme and this was right on our doorstep. Although the house was indeed fascinating and beautiful in every respect, the garden out matched it by miles. We had the chance to visit it again during a fund raiser for a local charity. The atmosphere was literally electric. They had provided the most amazing lighting and apparently this was their usual display – it was utterly inspiring. I now have brochures and a scheme in mind!