The most obvious sign that winter has arrived is the coming of the dark. By 5pm, our natural light is waning. If I leave work at 6pm, it is dark outside. If I leave home at 6am, it is dark. The dark and the cold can weigh heavily on one’s spirits. No wonder that many people express and celebrate the holiday season with lighting in some form or another. I have long thought that seasonal lighting is a form of gardening. I am not in my garden much now, nor will I be for the next 3 months. The winter garden is not a place to be, it is a place to view passing by, or view from in doors. The winter season has a beauty all its own. The bare trees and shrubs in the garden have a starkly sculptural appeal. The dried flower heads of hydrangeas are a warm brown-in a mass, dormant hydrangeas are beautiful. Provided that one can see them. Beautiful lighting in the landscape is an important aspect of good design. It consoles the spirit of the gardener who has been forced indoors for the duration.
If you have ever been to Detroit Garden Works, you know who Rob is. He does all of the buying for the shop, and is a very talented designer who has helped countless gardeners select ornament, furniture and containers for their garden. At this time of year, he helps people to design their winter and holiday containers. He also creates winter arrangements for clients. He has an abiding interest in lighting. He takes great care to redo the lighting in the shop every season. He has designed lighting sculptures that make a visual statement with a minimum of effort. One of his steel light rings hung from a tree in the winter is beautiful in the most simple way. Hang it up, and plug it in, and enjoy both its form, and its illumination. A second series of light rings have a stand comprised of 4 steel rods that can be driven into the ground. Strategically placed in a garden bed, or in the grass, that ring will light whatever is within range. Over the years, his lighted sculptures have been created from topiary forms and found objects. Invariably, the containers he creates for clients have some form of lighting as a key component.
Given that we have just as much night time as day time, planning a seasonal container that has a presence in the dark only makes sense. We carry brown corded holiday lighting in a number of different lengths. The brown cords are much less noticeable during the day than the usual green corded mini lights. For these pots, he cut the tops off of a pair of rusted steel cone shaped plant climbers. This provides an armature for the light string that is floating above the greens. The steel top ring has been covered in grapevine- the light cords blend right in. A strand of lights encircles the pussy willow centerpiece. This light from the bottom helps to make the centerpiece read well at night.
I have no idea where these containers will be placed, but wherever that is, they will help light the way. I have a large container which I will light for the winter next to the stairs that go from my deck into the yard. Should I take the dogs out after dark, I can see my way down those stairs. I do have down lights in my trees, so I can enjoy the landscape at night and from inside. The additional light from that container puts a little light closer to ground level. These winter pots will have the same effect.
Even indoors in the garage, the halo light in these containers has a strong visual presence. If the person who ordered these containers is anything like me, they will run the lights all winter, until the days begin to get longer. A lighted winter landscape is a pleasure indeed.