As the days are short at the moment it seemed the ideal opportunity to pop into town and photograph some of our gardens at night. The addition of garden lighting is unrivalled in creating ambience and on the practical side, extends the time that you are able to use your outdoor space.
In our Marylebone Courtyard, lanterns hanging from tensioned steel wire enhance the impression of the outdoor room while also casting light, right where you need it, over the dining table. We used Moonray Hanging downlights from Lighting for Gardens. The outdoor speakers complete the alfresco dining experience.
To light the vegetation we used 12v Compact Spike Spotlights. These can be moved around and adjusted as the planting grows and changes so that you can continue to enjoy the best effects. Make sure that you ask your electrician to leave you enough cable to facilitate this.
I love the delicate shadows cast by the Nandina domestica. The intricate leaves of the tree fern in this garden also create dramatic shadow effects. It is worth thinking about the atmosphere that you want to create when you choose which plants you are going to illuminate. A spiky yucca for example would have a very different feel.
We have generated rather a different night time mood in the Lightwell Garden. This tiny space has been designed to be viewed from inside the house as a dramatic living picture that changes with the seasons. During winter the shadows created by the bare branches of the Japanese Maple and the metal screen combine in a tangle of criss crossing lines.
The screen is backlit using two 12v Microflood Duo fittings again from Lighting For Gardens. The design of the screen by Grace and Webb was adjusted, especially for us, to enable our client to get his hands in to change the bulbs. It is important to consider how you will maintain your lighting if you are installing in a tight spot.
The lighting in both these spaces is on two circuits. This gives the flexibility of turning off the functional lighting, for example, which heightens the effect of the more ambient lighting.
In the photograph below both circuits are on, illuminating the tree branches, the metal screen and the wall. The screen has been fitted away from the wall to allow room for the light fittings behind. This gives us the bonus of shadows on the wall from the screen itself.
When the spotlights are turned off the plants and screen are silhouetted against the light background and the rough texture of the brick wall is accentuated as the floodlight grazes its surface.