The New Original Garden Lighting Book (part 1)

The New Original Garden Lighting Book (part 1)

By Mike Gambino

Garden lighting bookThe new original Garden Lighting book written by F.B. Nightingale, myself  Michael A. Gambino and Mark A. Carlson will be available for sale late next week. The cost of the 8 1/2” X 11” full color soft cover book will be $45 plus shipping cost and is available direct from this website. E-mail me for more info

This project started earlier this year when I mentioned to Mark that I would love to reprint the out of print Original Garden lighting book by Nightingale first published in 1958 so it would be available to those in the trade and Garden lighting enthusiasts alike.

We went one step further and not only reprinted the book in it’s entirety ( except for 15 pages dedicated to water pumps) complete with photo’s and line drawings, but we added our own comments, project photos and  updated it by adding some new  content  with current  trends and information.

This shall be a 3 part blog as I will be reprinting the Introduction to the book here and in my next 2 blog articles next week and the following week.


(FB) This book was written that you may more fully enjoy the garden you possess, during the leisure evening hours.  A book which will enable you to roll back the dark curtain of night to reveal its many hidden beauties.

There is a wonderful satisfaction in painting pictures with light in the garden.  It is a living beauty that cannot be created with any other medium.

(Mark) There is a sense of mystery or magic that emanates from the garden or landscape setting.  I find it so refreshing to read Nightingale’s descriptions and his experiences within this environment, because he took the time to understand these spaces.  He listened and observed the liveliness within both at day and night.

This is such an important concept to realize and it is rarely identified with by those practicing this art form.  These natural, outdoor spaces are “living” and have a magic about them.  It is through the use of light that we can capture these emotional values, which register within our minds and bodies.

Science has not yet quantified this, as there have only been a limited number of studies performed.  Since the 1980’s, studies have been performed to show that there are positive human responses to this interaction.  I for one believe that there is a healing ability with light, and especially so, when used in combination with garden settings.

Think about it; why do we feel at peace or a sense of calmness when we experience these beautiful night-time settings?  To me, it’s much like that of music and sound—it, too, touches the soul.  Each of these examples is part of our sensory system and they affect us on an intuitive level.

Even though this was a short statement made by Frank, it pointed out the importance of this combination of ‘light’ and ‘nature or the garden’, as being special.  This ability to illuminate such spaces should not be taken lightly—there is great value and consideration necessary in this form of art.  It is “art”.

(FB) When entering this field some basic knowledge of illumination is necessary.  One should be well acquainted with the various types of electric lamp bulbs and their uses.  It is most necessary that you be personally acquainted with all types of garden lighting fixtures in a working sense.  This can only come thru experimenting with them at night in the garden.  With portable rubber cords the lights may be tried out in a temporary manner under varying conditions until you know how each one of them may be used to its best advantage.

(Mark) The important point here is to realize that this trade ability cannot be learned only by reading or schooling and discussions.  Your very best tool is ‘hands-on’ experience and direct observation within the environment you are working.  This applies to both product selection and use, and to the techniques applied in the distribution of this light.

(FB) Now when you think of a fixture you ‘see’ mentally what you may expect from it.  You have developed that sense of knowing when to locate—what—where–.  When this is combined with vision and imagination it is surprising to see how your latent ability will come to your aid when designing the lighting lay-out.

(Mike) This is so true.  Not only have I used this ‘vision’ type of thinking in my design and installation work, but also with the design of my proprietary fixtures, transformers, and LED’s. I have drawn from what I call “night eyes” as my way of envisioning how a design or a specific subject will look after dark and use it to reverse engineer the end result. Start with the finish and figure out how to select and put together the pieces of the puzzle to reach my design goals.

(FB) If one were to choose between having an electrical engineering degree or artistic ability, the latter would be more valuable in this field.  An engineering background would help you in knowing if the electrician employed was competent, but it would not enable you to make the lighting result more beautiful.  You may safely leave the mechanics of the electrical installation to the electrician, his work must be ‘approved’ by the local inspector, relieving you of this responsibility.

(Mark) As I previously mentioned, this is an ‘art’ and art is best learned through direct application.  You can only learn so much through studies and reading.  You must have actual experience, which includes hands-on implementation of this practice in order to master the craft.

(Mike) Every successful project no matter the trade or field of discipline has to begin with an idea.  This is the framework for which to build upon—a strong foundation.  You wouldn’t want to set foot in a building that was built without an architectural plan, would you?

Observation of garden lighting done by myself and others is helpful in this learning process. In addition observation of the day time environment specifically of how the sun affects color and shadow in regards to plant materials.

(FB) The lighting of each garden is a challenge to one’s knowledge, ability and most of all, ‘vision’.  Each garden will be different, not only in shape and size but also in the use to which the owner wishes to put it.  You will find it a most fascinating study.

(Mark) The reason why this is such a challenging craft to implement is because most practitioners do not spend the time to really understand nature and natural phenomenon.  Most contractors and those utilizing the designation of ‘designer’ do not place enough value or priority on this necessity.  Therefore, the majority who perform in these roles will never achieve an appreciated level of artistic ability to really be classified as a professional designer of light.

One’s ability to visualize a lighting scene based on the need to touch the senses through emotional stimulation is directly related to these understandings of nature.  If someone is going to classify themselves as a lighting artist or a landscape lighting professional, then they should fully understand how light and shadow have a distinct relationship to the materials in this illumination field.

Take the time to study the varying aspects within this environment:  color, texture, structure or form, density, and reflective relationship with light.

Check back next week for part 2.

This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please  click here .

Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.


No Comments

Post A Comment