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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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.
Our latest project takes us to a new part of the country… Winter Park, Florida. Over our nearly 30 years business, our designs have taken us to many locations outside of our home base of Charleston, SC, including the Bahamas, California, Tennessee, Alabama and Maine, just to name a few. We are no strangers to packing up our tools and traveling where our services are needed.
In the latter part of 2018 we were contacted by Randy Boyd of Thurston Boyd Interior Design located in Laguna Beach, California. Randy had a special project located in Winter Park, Florida and tasked Moonlighting with the outdoor lighting scope. Within a few weeks, our lead designer Matt Carli boarded a flight to Florida for a site visit and to cultivate a custom outdoor lighting plan.
After several months of construction and landscape renovations, it was time for Moonlighting to pack up and head south! In early March, the Moonlighting installation crew and Matt spent the week installing this custom design. It was four busy days on site, the design itself required the installation of over 40 tree mounted fixtures, mounted anywhere from 24′-32′ along with over 60 fixtures on the ground.
This three acre property boasted some incredible design opportunities that we were really excited about. Upon entry to the property, the driveway is flanked by an allee of live oak trees that would serve as natural light poles to softly wash the driveway. When sitting inside the house, or on the pool deck the landscape itself offers focal points from all angles by means of more live oak trees that we would be both up lighting and down lighting, palm tree clusters, sword fern beds, etc. When talking about some of the design elements, Matt noted…
“One of my favorite parts of this design was picking up the textures of the giant sword ferns from the trees above. The plant material here in Charleston is somewhat similar to what we were working with in Florida, maybe a little more tropical in FL, but seeing these huge ferns serving as natural groundcovers was something I knew we had to pick up successfully. The only way to do that was from above.”
Another element of the design was incorporating an antique chandelier that came all the way from Paris, France into the lighting design. We made this happen by independently hanging a small fixture inside the chandelier. With the unique details in the chandelier, this application would provide some incredible shadows onto the ground plain below. We then hung the chandelier about 30′ above the driveway making a permanent fixture within the lighting design.
Moonlighting always enjoys the opportunity to work in a new location as this was an exciting and creative project that we were very fortunate to be a part of. When asked about the design process, Randy Boyd stated…
“I brought in Matt to design the lighting for a 3 acre residential project in Winter Park, FL. He and his crew were so professional and completed the installation in a timely fashion. The evening of the “unveiling” both my clients and myself were blown away. Thank you Matt, your lighting design was truly magical!”
See more pictures of this incredible project below. Be sure to follow Moonlighting on Facebook and now Instagram to keep up with our daily happenings!