Thoughts on light inspired by a frosty morning

I find the Dorset countryside infinitely inspiring; the constantly changing light (can something be constant and changing? there’s a thought!) makes me look at familiar scenes with fresh eyes.


I pass this farmhouse (below) every morning when taking my daughter to school, and love the sweep of the hedge line and trees above the house and the way they almost seem to draw the curves of the land. Sometimes, like today, you can see the lines of the old field boundaries picked out by the low light; but it’s always different, and noticing this difference each day gives me a good kick start of inspiration!

I’ve come to realise over the years just how important an understanding, and perhaps even more important, an appreciation, of natural light is when designing gardens. There’s been a lot of talk recently about using artificial light in gardens, and while I think this can add greatly to our enjoyment of a garden, I think we should first look at manipulating the natural light. The light this morning was really soft and blue, but just look how the low level of the light picks out the tractor tyre ruts and really hightlights that gorgeous curve and draws you in – what if that were the sweep of your drive – how good would that make you feel? (not the mud and puddle, obviously! just the lovely curves and light!)


I’ve just heard about (and ordered) a book exploring the effects of natural light in contemporary architecture, called ‘The Architecture of Natural Light’ by Henry Plummer, which Amazon describes as being “for all those seeking or interested in creating space that transcends the physical” – and what is that if not a garden?