Gardening & More: Add flameless lighting to your garden so you can enjoy the great outdoors, even at night
KENMORE –– You do not have to abandon your garden just because the sun has set. With the proper lighting, any garden can be just as beautiful and enjoyable at night as it is during the day.
I visited Kathi and Craig Schwab during Ken-Ton’s first “Saturday Night Lights” garden walk, last year. Soft lighting showcased tall flowers and reflected off the calm water of their in-ground pool.
“We sit out here every night with a glass of wine,” Kathi said. “Oh, it’s heaven.”
The Schwabs suggested illuminating the garden with a mixture of lights, including halogen, LED, solar lights and flameless candles.
A flameless candle is a battery-operated light shaped like a candle that glows with a gentle light, but does not have a flame to spark nearby dry material and it will not get snuffed out in a breeze.
While the Schwabs use other kinds of lights, as well, halogen lights are the staple lighting in their yard, for several reasons.
The light that halogen lights provide is stronger than that given off by solar lights. There is also a wider and more interesting selection of styles available in halogen lights.
Halogen lights are less expensive than LED lights. When the bulb burns out in an LED unit, you must replace the whole unit. With a halogen lamp, you can replace just the bulb.
There are drawbacks to halogen, though. Halogen bulbs use more electricity than LED lights and burn extra hot. They’re not harmful to plants, but be careful to not touch them with your bare hands.
Craig Schwab has his lights on three different hard-wired systems. As an energy conservation measure, one of the systems is on a timer and shuts off automatically.
Kathi Schwab decided that she would like colored lights in her garden, like she had seen at a wintertime Night Lights event at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
The folks at the Botanical Gardens used theatrical gels to produce different hues, but Schwab said she had trouble finding those materials.
Instead, she improvised with colored cellophane, the kind of material you can use for gift baskets. She bought some in a craft store and cut it into small pieces. Using a rubber band, she secured several sheets over an LED light.
Do not use this technique on halogen lights, because the cellophane will melt.
The Schwabs said that they were pleased with the result. The cellophane softens the light, while adding a tinge of color. Schwab noted that her raspberry color works best.
While many lights created for the garden shine downward, don’t forget that you can shine light upward, as well. An uplight can provide drama.
Add lighting to your garden as you enjoy our mild summer evenings.
Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.