Ken-Ton gardeners share tips for nighttime lighting

night garden walk in Buffalo NY area“We sit out here every night with a glass of wine,” said Kathi Schwab, as she surveyed her backyard.

Soft lighting showcased tall flowers and reflected off the calm water of their inground pool.

“Oh, it’s heaven,” Kathi said.

The Schwabs shared their yard during Ken-Ton’s first “Saturday Night Lights” garden walk held July 23.  Eighteen gardens participated in the evening walk.

The nighttime event was part of the Ken-Ton Garden Tour, which held a daytime walk on both Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24.

The Schwabs shared many tips for lighting your garden for nighttime viewing.

While many lights created for the garden shine down, such as in the photo below right, don’t forget that you can shine light upward as well, they said. An uplight can provide drama, as in the photo above left.close-up in nighttime garden in Buffalo NY area

Halogen lights are the staple lighting in the Schwabs’ yard for several reasons.

First, the light halogen lights provide is stronger than that provided by solar lights. There is also a wider and more interesting selection of styles available in halogen lights, Craig noted.

Compared to LED lights, halogen lights are less expensive, he said. When the bulb burns out in an LED unit, you must replace the whole unit. With halogen, you need to replace just the bulb.poolside garden at night in Buffalo NY area

There are drawbacks to halogen, though. Halogen bulbs use more electricity than LED lights. Also, halogen bulbs burn extra hot. They’re not harmful to plants, Craig said, but you must be careful not to touch them with your bare hands.

Craig has the lights on three different hard-wired systems. As an energy conservation measure, one of the systems is on a timer and shuts off automatically.

While the Schwabs recommend halogen lights, they don’t use them exclusively. They suggest using a mixture of lights. Some of the lights you see reflecting off the Schwabs’  pool are solar lights and flameless candles.flameless candle on Ken-Ton NY garden walk

The flameless candle, which you can see at right, is a battery-operated light shaped like a candle that glows with the gentle light of a candle. However, it doesn’t have a flame to spark nearby dry material, and it doesn’t get snuffed out in a breeze or before dark on Ken-Ton garden walk

At left you can see how nighttime lighting changes the look of the Schwabs’ front garden.

This past winter, Kathi visited the Night Lights event at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, which gave her the idea to use colored lights. When she had difficulty getting theater gels, she decided to try using 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 just a rubberband, they secured several sheets over an LED light. Note that you can’t use this technique on halogen lights because the cellophane will melt.

The Schwabs were pleased with the result. The cellophane softens the light while adding a tinge of color, Craig said.

front of house after dark on Ken-Ton NY garden walk

The raspberry color works best, Kathi said.

If you missed the Ken-Ton Saturday Night Lights, you can still catch a nighttime garden walk. On Aug. 6, the Starry Night Garden Tour will be back as part of the Black Rock & Riverside Tour of Gardens.




3 Comments on “Ken-Ton gardeners share tips for nighttime lighting

  1. kathy and Buz your yard was breathtaking the lighting suberb. You need to share your secrets for bi-level lighting. We have had night walks in Riverside for 6many years and people who come to the walks like the night walk the best. I’m glad your community has joined ours for night showings more should.

  2. Craig and Kathi,
    It was great fun seeing your nighttime lighting. Your gardens are beautiful during the day and it was great to be able to enjoy them at night, too. Thanks for sharing your tips with our readers.

  3. Dear Connie: Thank you for coming over this past Saturday night, 7/23, and photographing our gardens during our first Ken-Ton night lights tour. You did a fantastic job and we so appreciate all that you’ve done. We had a terrific response for the night walk, and hope that this will be the first of many annual night tours. Thanks again…Craig & Kathi Schwab

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