De - mystifying Garden Lighting November 2018

We attended a talk on garden lighting organised by the Society of Garden Designers, part of a regular CPD programme, to learn more about this aspect of garden design which can seem a bit daunting, even for garden designers! As most of us are unfamiliar with the technical aspects of lighting we tend to be reliant on electricians.

The good news, for both designers and clients, is that with improvements to products and technical support from lighting suppliers, creating a lighting scheme for a garden need not be so daunting, or expensive.

Perhaps the best aspect of the event, held in the evening at the beautiful York Gate garden in Adel, was that we were able to see the effects of different types of lighting units in a garden.

The talk, given by Paul Willavoys of Landscapeplus, a wholesaler and supplier of landscape products, covered design considerations such as the client’s use of the garden, different light fittings (uplighters, downlighters, spots, strip), various effects (narrow/ broad beam or a general ‘wash’ across a surface), the desired ambience (too many lights can look chaotic), warm vs ‘cool’ light as well as the technical aspects of the various fittings, transformers, connectors and controls available. With wireless technology you are no longer limited to just a switch!

Although lighting, beyond the purely functional, might be seen by clients as something of a luxury or ‘nice to have’ but not essential if you are redesigning a garden. It was emphasized that if ducting (plastic underground pipe to carry cables) is installed during construction, which is inexpensive, then the cables, connections and fittings can be added at a later date.

The photo below shows the effect of a wide angled uplighter on a contorted Hazel shrub (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’). It really highlights the multi-stemmed form of this specimen shrub. It’s not the best image I’m afraid, perhaps a photography course next?

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Helen Taylor