Candle Lighting in the Garden

Sometimes high voltage, low voltage, and even solar aren't what you're looking for. You want the romantic flicker of candlelight to add magic and mystery to the evening. Candle lighting isn't something you'll want to do all the time. But for a special occasion-a wedding, a holiday, or just a dinner party-candles can add an allure that electric lighting just can't match.

But of course there's a basic problem to be overcome. Wind. You can't just set up candlesticks on picnic tables and expect them to stay lit. Even a gentle breeze will blow them out. Or if they stay lit, they might get knocked over and start a fire. You need to find some way of safely shielding the candles so they can still be seen and enjoyed.

Here are four possibilities for bringing the light of the candle outside into your garden or yard.

"Chimneyed" Candles - These are sometimes called hurricane lamps as well. Whatever the name, this is the simplest way and often the most elegant for shielding a candle from the wind. A clear glass sheath with a candle-holder in its base is all you need. You can find these lamps at home improvement stores, candle stores, import shops, even your local discounter. They can run you as little as $1 on up to $30 or more depending on the size and ornateness of the sheath and the quality of the glass. They can be placed on tables or, with a little work, secured to posts.

Luminarias - We usually associate these paper sack candles with Christmas, but they can add a homespun charm at any time of the year. Purchase some brightly colored lunch bags at a paper goods store. Remember to buy extra so you can make mistakes! Draw a design on the bag with a pencil. Remember that the bottom of the bag will be filled with sand, so don't draw the design too low. Punch holes in the bag to create the pattern you drew. Hole punches won't reach far enough, so get a $3 leather punch or grommet hole cutter from your local fabric store. Punch the holes over thick cardboard so you don't destroy your table. Erase the pencil marks if you like, but they won't be visible at night.

Fill each bag with about 3 cups of sand. Bury a votive candle about halfway in the sand, so it's firmly planted in the center. Don't worry, even if the bag catches fire, it would take a stiff wind to blow it anywhere. You'll just burn the bag up down to the sand level.

Pole Lamps - You can create these yourself by affixing a glass chimney to a wooden stake or block. The stake models can be spread about the garden to add a three dimensional effect to the candle lighting. The block models can be placed on tables as homespun hurricane lamps.

Suspended Lanterns - Alpine lanterns and similar products can be found at camping and sporting goods stores. They can be hung from trees or poles to give a lovely overhead glow. They come in a large range of styles and prices. Many of them take nonstandard size candles, so make sure you buy replacement candles along with the lanterns.

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