When it comes to creating a lovely garden lighting design don’t limit yourself to one culture’s heritage – go international! And when you do, be sure to consider the island nation of Japan’s approach to gardens and lighting. You’ll be glad you did.
As early as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Japanese began to embrace the idea that a garden was not whole and perfect until it included a source of light – a candle, a small lantern, or even a string of lanterns. The play of light and shadow across the carefully tended landscape was as important as the initial choice of what to plant and where.
In part, this was because the Japanese ideal for gardens was centered in no small part on harmony – the absence of stress. In the beauty of the natural world – particularly when cultivated with a high degree of care and artistic integrity – whatever was bothering you could just float away. The day’s arguments and worries would evaporate like a drop of water in hot sun.
Gardens were places of healing – and lighting was a critical piece of that.
Like the Japanese, you can create a peaceful, serene and lovely atmosphere simply by making careful choices around the lighting design for your garden.
Ideas for Lighting in a Japan Style
* Obviously nobody in the sixteenth century was throwing a switch and watching as a wave of electricity lit up two or three dozen twelve watt bulbs. They were using candles and lanterns. It might seem somewhat foolish today, but don’t be so quick to dismiss the idea.
* Consider, for example, tiki torches. When placed in stable ground posts and surrounded by glass containers that both ensure the candle won’t be blown out and is unlikely to reach the surrounding plant life, the light of these small flames can be a beautiful addition to a flower. The flickering of live flames can be emulated by electronic means, but something is truly lost.
* As well, there are simply garden lanterns available. So long as the lantern has a broad flat bottom and sufficient protection for the flame, it’s not a bad idea to place one or two in your garden. The key, obviously, is not to leave these open flames unattended.
But the odds are that once you’re lighting up your garden in the old-fashioned way, you won’t want to leave it at all! And once you do turn in for the night, give your inner self a quick once over. Chances are you’re feeling pretty peaceful and calm, right? What could be better than that?