The New Original Garden Lighting Book (part 2)

The New Original Garden Lighting Book (part 2)

By Mike Gambino

Garden lighting bookThe arrival of the new original Garden Lighting book written by F.B. Nightingale, myself  Mike Gambino and Mark Carlson has been delayed. Mark was erroneously notified that it had shipped 9 days ago. We have been trying to find out where the shipment was this week when we were finally told today that there was a mixup and the book hasn’t finished printing yet. Hopefully by Monday of next week we will have a definitive answer. To everyone who has inquired and who are chomping at the bit to receive this book we apologize and will contact you when we have the book in stock. 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 is part 2 of a 3 part blog series. I have reprinted the Introduction to the book here and part 1 last appeared last week and the conclusion to come next week.


Even after becoming proficient in the art make it a practice to re-visit every garden you have lighted at least once a year; once by day to see if any mechanical defect has developed, then by night to be certain all lamps are burning and properly directed.  These visits will be found very much worthwhile.  There will always be unforeseen developments which cannot be anticipated.  All this adds to your knowledge and helps you to reduce errors elsewhere.  It also shows the client the continued interest and pride you take in your work.

Never become complacent and stop learning.  There is great value in this re-visiting of a past project, as it allows you to see things with fresh eyes after a period of time.  You will gain better insight to your design approach.  You will see what works and what doesn’t.  Use this as a means to improve yourself and your design ability.

I strongly agree with instituting an on-going maintenance program.  There is great importance for doing this because if keeps your clients happy and it provides proof that you care.  There are too many installers out there today that are doing such a bang-up job—they would never dream of returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak.  If you are going to install top-notch lighting systems, then you have to sell them a maintenance plan to care for them. I have always strongly advised property owners who are interviewing designer/installers to disqualify those right away who will not maintain it.

It is not desirable, in garden lighting, that we attempt to reproduce daylight conditions.  It is, however, consoling to know what we who work with lights into the night have one great advantage over the sun who without favor treats the beautiful and ugly areas alike.  We, with the use of controlled light, locate it in the most favorable spot and ‘freeze’ it there.  We allow the unsightly areas to remain cloaked in darkness.

If garden lighting is to become a serious part of your future life work, you must become devoted to it.  You will do well to develop an eye that by day sees in terms of night.  To succeed in creating lighting effects of which Alladin might be proud, takes time.

This is a hugely important statement.  Too many installers already are in it for the buck.  And as Mark has correctly noted, many of these people lack the passion for the art. We are not shining big flood lights off a building without discretion. On the contrary we are using multiple small limited spread light sources typically located close to their subject to achieve our goals.

While this book may answer many of your questions, you too must spend some part of the “Thousand-and-one-nights” in the garden.  Even my wife, knowing that she married a Nightingale did not expect him to live in the garden, -not singing, but lighting.

There is an important truth about this career—if you cannot do the night hours, then you better find another line of work.

Garden lighting, as far as the installation is concerned, is in the electricians field.  The public quite naturally turns to him for advice on this subject.  While it does require specialized study, there is no reason why he should not become proficient in making the lighting recommendation, and doing the installation as well.

Please remember that the electrician at this time was the most qualified to install such a system—it was only available in 120-volt applications, therefore, it made complete sense to pursue this tradesman.  However, in today’s market, the electrician is typically one of the last contractors to call to perform this work.  I say this because it is there common lack of the necessary artistic value required for this work.

Very important that property owners due their due diligence and make sure they are hiring someone who is legally permitted to perform the work they desire completed on their property. After all we are dealing with electricity here and not only is it potentially harmful to persons but to property as well.

At present this lighting art is an open field.  It belongs to him who has the ‘know-how’ regardless of his profession.

The landscape architect, because of his intimate knowledge of growing things—their mature forms—how they can be treated or mis-treated—his sense of the artistic and appreciation of the beautiful—all this and more—would mark him as having an ideal background to become a success in making garden lighting recommendations.

Although I agree that this seems to be the most likely person to perform this design service, most are no more capable to perform this work than the standard landscape contractor.  This is not a slam against either professional, but it is a reflection of their lack of education and/or experience to do so.  No other trade specialty, contractor, or architect has the field experience required to effectively perform this role, and that is why I keep referring this to an ‘art form’.

I believe the next best individual professional that is most capable to perform this specialty would be the actual ‘lighting designer’, from the architectural community.  This fact alone is because of their direct relationship with light and the understanding of light.

Even though I am not a landscape architect nor do I have any formal training in this discipline, I do possess the passion that is required to advance in this understanding.  I have been extremely successful in this business and it is because of this.

Come back again next week for the conclusion of this 3 part blog article.

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.


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