Magazine article Sunset

All Aglow: How to Make a Splash with Holiday Lights, beside an Entry or in Your Garden

Magazine article Sunset

All Aglow: How to Make a Splash with Holiday Lights, beside an Entry or in Your Garden

Article excerpt

As twilight arrives earlier and earlier on cold December days, something magical happens at homes around the West: Holiday lights flicker to life. They create glittering galaxies on porch ceilings, bathe eaves and gables in a warm glow, and turn stately saguaros, gnarled olive trees, or stout-trunked palms into shimmering sculptures. Some dangle in bundles beneath patio arbors like luminescent grape or wisteria clusters, or poke through rhododendron foliage in brilliant bursts. Others are draped along the edges of boat docks in places like Lake Washington and California's Newport Beach, their reflections dancing across dark waters.

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Let holiday lights spark your imagination. When creating your own display, be sure to use lights approved for outdoor use according to label directions; cool-burning miniatures are best for plants. And, of course, wear sturdy leather gloves when stringing lights around cactus or roses. A strand of miniature white lights typically costs $4-$10; these and other lights are available at most drug stores and discount stores such as Target.

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Use lights to ...

Highlight your home's architectural features. Run white lights along the edges of structural elements such as bay windows and chimneys.

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Enhance your garden. String white lights around trellises or gazebos.

Brighten sculptural plants. Plants with interesting curves or angles can be more beautiful still when illuminated against the night sky: Try Arbutus 'Marina', cactus such as saguaro and opuntia, Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), and Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis). …

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