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In the intervening 2 million or so years, humans have developed additional lighting technologies, with solar power and LED currently at the forefront of a rapidly changing field. But what we ask of our gardens after night falls has changed little: We want beauty, and we want utility. Seems simple? It’s not. “Landscape lighting is really, really difficult,” says Janet Lennox Moyer, who designed the lighting for the dreamy, cathedral-like allée shown here, and whose Landscape Lighting Book (Wiley; 2005) is widely considered the definitive guide to the topic. Moyer ticks off a list of considerations that includes avoiding blind spots; the interplay of multiple light sources and beam spreads; and such fundamentals as how we see at night (eyes become less sensitive to color and detail, more sensitive to brightness and movement). Before you attend to those points, though, you have to decide what you’re hoping to accomplish. “I separate it into ‘it’s for me’ or ‘it’s for the world,’” Moyer says. “If you light up the front of your house, you can’t see it: It’s for the neighbors, it’s a statement about who you are. But what you see when you look out of windows in the kitchen or family room—that has to do with views that connect you from the inside out. And if you then go into the garden, you have to ask yourself how you’re going to use it.”
Left: Ground-mounted spots fill out a bamboo bed and reflect light onto a walkway