Monday, 28 February 2011


Traditional lights on the South Bank in London with smoky glass blocking light upwards without spoiling the effect of the light

Candle-light in a summer garden
February is often a hard month to cope with and it is a joy to behold March, for although Spring is welling up and young snowdrops and early daffodils can make their appearance and refresh the spirit, much of the change is in terms of ‘promise’.  Buds fill and the surface of twigs and the ground change into velvet softness after the harshness of winter days and nights.  Personally I have always found my patience starts to run dry in February, and even if there has been the chance to travel to exotic climes, the very dankness of the dark days and dampness can be dispiriting.  I have also noticed that other people have a less tolerant mind in February and can get quite ‘snappish’.

Looking on the ‘bright’ side now….

Lit paving in London
On dank and dark dingy days the presence of light can be electrifying to a darkened soul.  Many more landscape schemes have been incorporating light in small spaces as technology gets more playful.  Lighting doesn’t just have to be for Christmas, our local garden centre now maintains tree lights for 12 months of the year which is cheering in the summer and instructive in the winter on darker afternoons because you know where the gate is…

Landscape lighting can be very cheering.

There is also a point where landscape light can cause problems, particularly if the wrong kind of lighting is selected.  Modern lighting is thankfully very often designed to light the places where the light is desired and to avoid the places where a sense of darkness at night to aid restful sleep or encourage astronomy is key.  There is still a long way to go, but there has been a remarkable improvement in creative thought in the past few years.  Blocking or inhibiting light up to the sky unless where building frontages are to be lit can be achieved in simple ways.

Some lighting is for security purposes and aids restful sleep through reduction of worry.

Mural of the Northern Lights on Norwegian building

In the last few weeks Scotland has had the unusual chance to enjoy some of the Aurora borealis – the Northern Lights.  One year it was possible to see them in Sussex, when it looked like vast search lights in the sky.  In Scandinavia people go skiing in Spitzbergen which doesn’t really get light as we understand it in the winter, in the same way that it doesn’t get dark during the summer.  They ski lit by the Northern Lights, which must be an incredible experience.  One comment I heard about the Scottish experience was a bit of reverse poetry.  Apparently what this person was able to see and experience was lights chasing into the sky of a subtle form in mixtures of pink and orange – “a bit like looking across the lights of London, I suppose”…..  This was a view across the Highlands in a section where very few people live and any lights are usually twinkling headlights from cars.

Capturing sunset in New Mexico

Some lights have cheer added to THEM

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