11/12/13

Waiting for the Night to Fall

The days are noticeably shorter and the weather a cooler shade of gray.  Welcome to that season that seems like endless fall!   These are the days that darkness seems to be a way of life for us here in Pacific northwest, especially before the holiday start revving up.  
Earlier this month I went to a great 'lunch & learn' on using lighting in the landscape; particularly LED.  
Makes sense to me.  Enjoy your garden at any hour...all you need is a bit of lighting in the appropriate places and you are set!  
subtle illumination for pool deck
by Chris White Inc
I love experiencing gardens at night.  Beyond using white flowers, and playing with night-bloomers for scent and water for sound; lighting can be a key component.  Lighting design not only is great for safety considerations; just the right spectrum and intensity can provide a soothing sense of calmness, a feeling of mystery and magic, or direct what the eye should be drawn too.  
My clients have often expressed that their favorite thing about their new garden or landscape is coming home from work (when its dark by 5pm) to a warm-looking home; complete with an illuminated path to the front door and trees that appear to be impressive 'sculptures' due to a glow coming from a carefully composed directional spot light.  
Get beyond the basics:  go for up-lighting significant features garden features such as arbors, or better yet; set off elements that one may not even notice much during the day for a 'surprise effect'.  
Lighting a piece of art or water feature and hanging fixtures for mature trees are even more ways to create ambiance.  

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show
features many great, fun lighting ideas, like
highlighting this kinetic piece by Troy Pillow
These new LED fixtures are aesthetically a simple, clean design; though burly (in a good way) and seemingly solid. They are a bit more of an investment initially when compared to regular low-voltage, but companies like LumaStream seem to have it 'dialed-in' for the residential design-build market.  I'm looking forward to designing with them soon!      
Please don't even bother with those solar-powered and 'low-budget' lights you can get at various home-improvement stores.  I see more cracked, discarded remnants of them tossed aside in clients' yards and garages.  
My dream project would be to experiment with how to create the illusion of a backyard full of fireflies (some serious simulation) or perhaps special lighting for a garden party featuring a life-like aurora borealis!  

Other considerations as we look outward this time of year is of course warmth.  What shelter and several layers of wool, down, and gore-tex can't provide us; a fire-feature surely can.  I've designed many in the past.  Most are rustic; of natural stone or sleek and modern and of steel.  Others have been recessed (built into) patios and decks; to be easily kept concealed, take up less space and keep things cleaner.  
instant winter warmth
However I am becoming more and more a fan of fire bowls as of late. The greatest thing about them being that they are easier to transport and seemingly most can convert to a table with a simple cover.  Eldorado Outdoor, a manufacturer offers some nice options for these.  However, I would prefer to explore more custom options and work them into the overall design of the garden.   Additionally, this site has some decent 'basic considerations when getting a fire bowl'.  

Next up....more encaustic painting, plans for a backyard studio, and tasty winter cocktails! 

Inspiration for a winter painting



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