Luminous Lanterns & Torches Set Gardens All Aglow…

Photo â“’ Ray Main from Elizabeth Wilhide’s Lighting: A Design Source Book

Flickering candles, swaying lanterns, and glowing orbs beneath shadowy, draped vines; an artfully lit garden sets the mood for a memorable gathering or even an everyday evening meal on the deck or terrace. Too often an after-thought —or worse neglected all together in favor of straight-ahead utility— landscape lighting makes all the difference in the creation of an alluring outdoor room. Right now, I am busy designing several landscape lighting plans for clients; all of which include low-voltage architectural wash and pathway illumination as well as more decorative, ambient features. Elizabeth Wilhide’s Lighting: A Design Source Book (image above by the edition’s photographer Ray Main) and Sally Storey’s lovely book, Lighting by Design (Luke White photo excerpts featured below) are providing some brilliant inspiration. I will be covering some easy, do-it-yourself, low-voltage lighting systems in an upcoming post. But for now, I’d like to share some quick and easy ideas using solar lanterns and string lights, as well as torches and handmade tin luminarias. The purpose of ambient lighting is quite different from task lighting. Much like candles on a dining table, solar lamps and glass orbs are intended to flicker like the stars; casting a warm and inviting glow above tables, at the edges of steps and beneath the low branches of trees…
Click here for a closer look at the  Square Solar Shoji Lanterns from Gaiam


Shoji lanterns are particularly appealing to me at the moment. A few years back, I received two Asian-style lanterns as a gift, and when they are lit from within by tiny candles, they completely change the night time atmosphere of my Secret Garden. I also like to float candles in water bowls, or set short pillars within handmade tin luminarias when I host a party. But for lower-maintenance (and safer) drama, I love the idea of solar Shoji lanterns like the ones pictured above and below. I’m adding a pergola to the front entrance of my studio next month, and I think a few of these will add a lovely touch beneath the twining vines of wisteria…

Click here to see the circular Solar Shoji Lantern from Gaiam

Sometimes, a combination of lighting features can work in tandem to create beautiful layers of illumination in a garden. For special events, like weddings and summer cocktail parties, low voltage landscape lighting can be easily enhanced by the beauty of glass hurricanes, tiki torches or tin lanterns (like the ones pictured below). Making tin lumniarias is easy, and they are much safer and longer lasting than the paper variety. Click here for a tutorial on how to make tin-punch lanterns, which I posted last winter. Breaking up more mundane task-lighting with strings of soft, solar glass globes (like the cool recycled-glass set from Plow and Hearth and the amber set from Exterior Accents, both pictured below) also works magic, especially when sets are strung through vertical trellising, vine-clad pergolas, tall shrubs or the lower branches of nearby trees…
Photo â“’ Luke White from Sally Storey’s inspirational Lighting by Design
Photo â“’ Ray Main from Lighting: A Design Source Book by Elizabeth Wilhide
Click here to see Exterior Accent’s Aurora Glow Solar String Lights (Amber)
Click here to see: Pisa Torches from Plow and Hearth

Click here for: Globe Solar String Lights from Plow and Hearth


Article and tin luminaria photo copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All other photographs copyright as noted or linked.

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2 Replies to “Luminous Lanterns & Torches Set Gardens All Aglow…”

  1. G Fernandez

    Great post. I’m glad to have read this today as I returned from a friend’s new home last night where we’ve been trying to figure out how to decorate her porch and garden area. These lanterns would be perfect. I’ve emailed her this post!

  2. Michaela

    – Thanks G! Aren’t the lanterns lovely? I can’t wait to finish my pergola and bask beneath the warm glow. Trouble is… I can’t decide… Round or Square lanterns this time? Thanks for sharing the post :)

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