Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the visitors center opened to the public in 1991 and has been a hub for Charleston tourism ever since. Along with a full scale renovation of the building, the landscape also received the same treatment led by Charleston landscape architect Glen Gardner.
Moonlighting was tasked with creating a landscape lighting design that would accentuate the key features of the landscape. The new landscape consisted of the introduction of new palm trees, camellias, etc. A key part of our landscape lighting design was safely illuminating the stairs to allow for a safe entry/exit for visitors of the center.
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We’re excited to share our latest featured project with you! The focus of our latest design is an elaborate three-tiered water feature nestled quietly in a Kiawah Island Zen garden.
The project began with a design consultation. We discussed the overall scope of the project and what the client was looking to achieve through the landscape lighting. Curb appeal, aesthetic enhancements of the landscape and circulation lighting along the driveway were key needs. As we continued to walk the property and make our way to the backyard, we were welcomed to the backdrop of a beautiful Kiawah Island marsh view. What we stumbled upon next was a complete surprise! Hidden away on the side of the property is a stunning zen garden anchored by an elaborate water feature unlike any we’ve seen in the Charleston area. This was a welcomed site and a design challenge that we were excited to take on. The lowcountry typically doesn’t lend itself for set-up like this. The elevation changes in the space that allowed the water feature to flow through it make it feel as if it was formed there naturally. The client expressed their desire to be able to use the space in the evening hours. We were granted total creative freedom and we couldn’t wait to get started!
After the design was in officially in place, we were ready to hit the ground running. We took careful consideration in specifying the proper fixtures and lamps to appropriately capture the overall scene.
Several fixtures were installed in and within the feature itself, while we were also able to utilize the trees within space to illuminate the feature from above. Creating a usable space that allowed the clients to safely walk through and relax in after the sun goes down was a priority that we were able to accomplish. With cooler temperatures on the horizon, there’s no better time to enjoy your outdoor living spaces! The gravel pathway was softly lit from above, creating a naturally “moonlit” effect. It was important to also to feature the landscape by highlighting some of the key palm trees, japanese maples and bamboo clusters for a successful and comprehensive lighting scheme.
Take a few moments to scroll through the photos below of the final product and let us know what you think in the comments!
How do you light a tree with landscape lighting? Well…that’s a trick question. Not every tree is created equal and not every tree calls for the same application as the next. We’re here to help explain.
Where we are located in Charleston, South Carolina, we see a wide variety of trees on our projects ranging from live oak trees, palmetto trees, crape myrtles and olive trees just to name a few. Whether it be new construction where newly planted trees have been installed or it’s an existing landscape where trees have had years to blossom and mature, our knowledgeable design staff is always prepared for the best design techniques to best illuminate your trees.
In this blog post, we’re going to show you a beautiful live oak tree illuminated in three very different ways.
Let’s start with the most basic method.
In this photo we have positioned three fixtures on the ground, about 30′ away from the tree and aimed them to illuminate the tree. In the big picture, the whole tree is illuminated and it’s being shown off in all of its beauty. Essentially, it’s the easiest way to illuminate this tree while still accomplishing a positive effect. While still very effective, we can probably do a little better and create a little more interest within this scene.
In this photo, were aiming for a different effect. We’re looking to create interest and we’re looking to enhance the limb structure. This is what makes the live oak tree so unique and a focal point within many lowcountry landscapes. Live oak tree limbs tend to sprawl and crawl in their own way. This makes them so unique and quite honestly, so much fun illuminate.
For the “grazing” technique, we’ve positioned three up lights closer to the tree than what you see in the previous photo and focused on the limb structure of the tree. This allows you have a better visual of the detail of the tree and limb structure.
Tree Mounted Up & Down Lighting:
Let’s say this tree is in a high traffic area and we need to keep fixtures off the ground so they don’t become a hindrance, thats where this technique comes into play. In this photo, the oak is illuminated with fixtures all mounted within the tree itself. We have two fixtures mounted about 15′ up, aimed up into the canopy while we have three down lights, mounted at about 35′ aimed down. One is aimed through the center of the tree, picking up the trunk while the other two are picking up the right and left side of the tree. The down lights as a whole create some great shadowing on the ground plane below. We’re again focusing on the detail of the tree and further enhancing what makes the oak tree the specimen tree that it is. What we’re accomplishing here is illuminating the top parts of the limbs that cannot be picked up by just simply up lighting.
By combining up lighting and down lighting, we’re painting a multidimensional picture as opposed to the one dimensional technique you see with the first two techniques.
If you want to see this in person… you can find it at the Addlestone Library on the College of Charleston campus where it permanently illuminated with technique No. 3 (tree mounted up and down lighting.) Because it is in fact in a very high traffic area, that is why we elected to design with this method.
For the second time, Moonlighting has helped in the revitalization of a familiar downtown Charleston garden. This King Street property is one we’ve become very familiar with over the years as we were part of the design team that first overhauled this space in 2010. Almost a decade later, we were fortunate enough to team back up with Wertimer and Cline for another pass at this re-imagined garden.
Not only did we design and install this project originally, we have also maintained it on a regular basis from the day it was installed. A major benefit of regular maintenance on this project was the opportunity to repurpose many of the existing fixtures. Regular maintenance encourages a longer lifespan for the fixtures, which in-turn was a big cost saver for the client. If you feel that your landscape lighting system could benefit from a service contract and to learn more about what is involved with regular maintenance, contact our office today for a free consultation!
During this renovation, we worked closely with the talented team at Ables Landscapes, who was tasked the landscape installation and hardscape additions. The original landscape had matured quite a bit, so we responded to not only the new plant material that was introduced but also the existing plant material to ensure that the landscape in its entirety was being illuminated in the most effective ways possible.
There were several mature crape myrtles that we approached by both up lighting and down lighting, which provided for some great textures below on the lower lying fatsia. There are also four custom arbor structures on site that we added a mini LED fixture with a low level output to softly illuminate the walk through. Another feature that really became a dramatic focal point was the statue we lit inside the fountain. The statue lit nicely and the backdrop of crape myrtles and fig ivy covered walls made a for a beautiful scene, and one that can be appreciated from many angles within the garden and inside the home.
Check out the gallery below for more photos of this project and be sure to follow us on your favorite social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Houzz for our weekly updates!