Let There Be Light In The Night Garden

The fashion for large areas of glazing in the form of bi-fold and sliding doors has, to coin a hackneyed phrase, “brought the outside in”.

Walking into a light-filled room and seeing a large expanse of green space adds an instant feel-good factor to a room.

But the outside is only “in” during daylight hours, after which it turns into a black hole. I’ve never given this blackout issue much thought until recently when I visited a friend who has just invested in a garden lightingscheme.

It has made an incredible difference. During the day, when natural light streams in and garden views are visible, the room feels spacious and there’s a sense of calm that comes from the lawn and the plants and flowers outside.
 
Now, thanks to her outdoor lights, the room no longer feels smaller and less enticing at night. Instead, a soft glow highlights the exterior space making it look rather magical.


Luna moon outdoor floor lamps, £360, www.babatude.com

The project wasn’t cheap as she hired a specialist company to design and install her lighting system but she loves it and feels it has been worth every penny. You can cut the costs by designing your own but you will need an electrician to install the lights and to hook up to the power supply in your house. All electrical work now has to be certified by law.
 
You should also make sure that your fittings have LED bulbs as they cost far less to run than halogen versions. As for colour, I’d always use soft white otherwise you run the risk of making your garden look like a fairground and a twinkling rainbow effect outside can be very distracting when you’re sitting indoors trying to relax.
 
Solar-powered lights are an easy and inexpensive DIY option, though they can sometimes look dim if there hasn’t been much sun during the day. Among my favourites are LED circular floor lights, perfect for lining paths, rockeries and flower beds.
 
Battery-operated lights look effective but would you really traipse outside to turn them on and off every evening? Probably not. They are, however, fantastic for adding sparkle on special occasions.
 
Outdoor fairy lights strung along hedges and woven into the branches of a tree look stunning.
 
Candlelight is equally lovely. If you are having a party, try lining your path with tealights in plain glass jam jars or tumblers. Wrap florist wire round the top of the jars and create handles so you can hang them from trees. If it’s windy or you are nervous about naked flames, then use battery-operated tealights. 


Cornish jar lantern, £7 each, Wyevale garden centres,  www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk
 
A more interesting and decorative take on this is the Berrington Floral bottle lamp, £5, from the National Trust shop. The bottle-shaped glass cover fits neatly on top of the base and protects your tealight from draughts. It comes with a chain for hanging and can also be used as a table top decoration.


 Berrington Floral bottle lamp, £5, from the National Trust shop, www.shop.nationaltrust.org.uk

Here are some more outdoor lighting tips:

Hang hurricane lamps filled with candles or fairy lights from wall hooks or put a shelf on an exterior wall with a large hurricane lamp in the centre and pots of trailing plants either side.
 
Downlighters and uplighters wash exterior walls with light. Garden Trading has a very good selection.


Mast down light, £35, from Garden Trading, www.gardentrading.co.uk


A set of four solar-powered garden floor lights, £29.95, from House of Bath,www.houseofbath.co.uk 
 
Lighting trees is very effective, either with uplighters around the base or with string lights in the branches.


 Bumblebee solar-powered lights, £7.99, www.lights4fun.co.uk

If you have a water feature, use an underwater spotlight to bring it to life at night, or direct spotlights on to the surface.
 
Fittings are often black but according to John Cullen Lighting: “The ones that blend in best are olive green. Copper fittings are also good as they patinate to a neutral green colour with age.

When mounted high up in a tree as a downlight, bronze fittings blend in well with the colour of most tree trunks and can provide pools of light at the base”
 
The fashion conscious will love the outdoor hanging lampshade with battery-operated bulb,£24.95, from Glowwww.glow.co.uk. You can also buy clusters of hanging filament bulbs from Crocus.co.uk. They are solar powered and cost from £15.99


Outdoor hanging white lace lamp, £24.95, www.glow.co.uk

Subtle, white fairy lights on a pergola or trellis look magical.
 
Less is more with external lighting. You want to create mood not a floodlit pitch effect. Plus we should be mindful of contributing to light pollution.
 
For evening garden parties, a fire pit or fire bowl is a must and brings both light and warmth. The cheap ones rarely last longer than one summer so go for quality if you can afford to.
 

Firefly firebowl, £149, Wyevale garden centres, www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk 

Publish date: 09/11/2017