Turn up the heat
Swift stays warm on cool evenings and shows how lighting
can transform any garden.
There is nothing better than to come home from work,
head straight out into the garden and enjoy the long
summer evenings to the max. Just being outdoors on a
warm evening – however small your garden - is
the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living.
Even though I live in one of the busiest parts of London
it’s amazing how quiet and calm it gets in the
evening- as if the whole city is relaxing after a busy
There are ways of instantly making your garden a more
inviting space at night. They insure you use it as much
as possible like a real outdoor room. It’s easy
to create the perfect ambience to invite friends over
to dine ‘al fresco’, or even make the right
setting for a full-blown party! Why not? Go on - go
for it while summer’s here.
Sadly, even in the fleeting days of high summer, our
weather can’t always be relied upon and just as
you’re about to serve up the food everyone is
reaching for jackets. The perfect safeguard is the latest
must-have, an outdoor patio heater.
They’re all the rage and will really extend the
hours your garden can be used throughout the whole year.
They really do give off a lot of heat, so as long as
it’s dry eating out doesn’t have to be limited
to the odd balmy evening. They are now available in
smaller domestic sizes than before, and will really
impress your friends when they come round.
Warmth, then light are what we’re dealing with
here. Garden lighting has so many qualities that it’s
worth considering in some form or another. I guarantee
that even a few simple lights (electric or candle-lights)
will turn your garden into a more magical place.
If you choose to have lighting installed (only use a
professional electrician) spend time thinking about
positioning it. You’re not just plonking lights
in a garden; it’s time to get arty as you’re
designing with an exciting new medium If you have any
specific focal points garden such as a beautifully shaped
tree, large pot or even a prominent set of steps then
these are worth highlighting with a spotlight or up-lighter.
A few tips. In a small garden just pick one or two points
rather than have too many lights, subtlety is everything
and with lighting especially, less is most definitely
more. Make sure that the bulbs are not shining directly
towards the house windows or any seating areas, as a
light glaring into your eyes will ruin the whole effect.
The lower wattage or low voltage fittings tend to give
the best quality of light rather than those great big
bright ones that will give the effect of a security
light with a dodgy sensor that’s permanently on.
To light a terrace or eating area try to mount a light
as high up as possible to create a pool of light onto
a specific area rather than an overly defined ‘spot’,
which may look too sharp.
Electrical lights are obviously the most expensive to
install, but with a flick of a switch your garden is
turned into a fresh composition. Candle-lights, however
can also be a great and there are some really nice holders
available at the moment. These can be either wall-mounted,
come with a shepherds crook type spike to stick amongst
the planting or simply be placed on an outside table.
For an instant party atmosphere try buying a bag of
a hundred tea lights and placing them all over the garden
in clear or coloured plastic cups. The cups will make
them glow effectively and stop them blowing out in a
gentle breeze. Place them in flower beds, along walls
and to edge a patio or deck. Alternatively you could
buy some bigger candles and place them in a bit of sand
at the bottom of a large brown paper bag- if you think
I’m mad just try it and let me know what it looks
like. Caution, don’t let the kids do this unsupervised.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com