Lighting the Garden

img_0477.jpgThe activity level in my neighborhood was high this past weekend as everyone put up their holiday decorations. We take a subtle approach–which in my youngest daughter’s opinion is just plain boring. My husband hung our lighted Christmas wreath and wrapped lights around a metal sculpture in our front bed, which looks like a tree when lit up. I circled a pillar at the front door with pine garland and put some boughs in a decorative pot. In a moment of inspiration, we also added lights to the pergola.

We don’t put lights on outdoor trees–mostly because it’s a lot of work–but I found out recently that our laziness is good for the trees, too. In a recent column in Northern Gardener, Stefan Fediuk and Jim Kohut, who oversee the huge Canadian gardening web site, northscaping.com argue that the heat from light bulbs, followed by rapid cooling when the bulbs are turned off, promotes breakage and other damage to evergreens. The danger is greatest with young trees because evergreens grow fastest when they are young.

img_0479.jpgThey recommend lighting the house instead of trees. If you want to light trees, they suggest you pick a large, more mature specimen and use the new low-wattage LED lights. My next-door neighbors put lights on their trees, and these large evergreens are very healthy. (I couldn’t resist taking a picture because we had such a pretty sunset this evening.) However, my neighbors light the trees only during the holiday season, which is another way to minimize damage.

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