Illuminating Beauty

Illuminating Beauty: Outdoor Lighting for Mediterranean Gardens

Written by Clare Ferrige  |  Photos by Maria Calafat

Landscape lighting is as alive as a garden.

When the sun sets on your Mediterranean garden, an opportunity arises to transform your outdoor spaces into a night-time realm of beauty. With effective outdoor lighting, you can highlight unique features and allow your garden’s charm to continue captivating you into its folds, long after dusk. 

Whether you have a courtyard, countryside finca or expansive coastal retreat, garden lighting should strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics. Its point is to create magic by accentuating the trunk of a wizened old olive or to guide you with subtle illumination to the dining table, not to distract from the surrounding natural beauty. 

It’s a difficult balance to strike and our clients often ask us for advice on lighting. Although we can offer suggestions on what to consider, we always recommend commissioning a lighting designer to create the design and oversee the installation, especially on larger projects.  

One such lighting design professional is Kriss de Caldevilla from de Caldevilla Projects.  Having worked together, we know that she truly understands that outdoor lighting is an art form. Her work ensures that the allure of your Mediterranean garden extends far beyond the boundaries of daylight.   

We spoke with Kriss to discover more about her approach to illuminating gardens. 

How can lighting enhance your garden and what do you need to consider when creating a design?

Lighting needs to accompany any space, indoor or outdoor.  Your garden should always be the protagonist and the lighting only serves to complement and enhance specific elements, to create atmosphere when there is no natural light.

When starting a design, I identify the features of the garden that need to be highlighted such as a beautiful olive tree, a bed of flowers or a nice Mallorquin stone wall.  Pathways and circulation areas are also important to illuminate, particularly those that are close to the house or that lead to areas like your swimming pool.

Whenever doing a lighting design, I always take into consideration how the garden will grow and evolve throughout the years. Flowers, bushes and shrubs all grow and extend beyond the initial design and plantation.  For this reason, it is useful to have a combination of fixed lighting and flexible spotlights. Landscape lighting is as alive as a garden – as vegetation grows and takes its natural form, luminaires may need to be adjusted to enhance them more.

What is needed in terms of preparation and who carries out the work?

To prepare a good lighting project, one starts with the design. Once the blueprints and garden designs are finalized, lighting design can be done based on the possibilities and limitations of the space.

After the design approval the project enters the execution phase, which involves the landscape team, the designer, engineers and electricians. Trenches, arquetas and installations need to be done according to the design and more importantly, before the placing of any topsoil or plants. 

The final placement of the luminaires is done once the garden is complete, and then I meet with the clients, usually in the evening, to turn everything on and see the final effect. We manage the project with our engineering team to ensure correct manipulation, installation and execution of the projects. We find this to be an added value as we guarantee the best possible results.

There are many different styles of lighting to choose from, what one would you say works best in the Mediterranean garden?

Every landscape is as unique as the owner and every project has its own personality. Projects are designed considering each factor and the tastes of the client. That said, in my humble opinion, a flicker and soft lighting that is not overbearing is my preference for a Mediterranean garden.

With de Caldevilla, I design all types of lighting, from the most technical indoor projects to decorative lighting to the outdoor lighting of a property. For me it is always very exciting to be able to design outdoor lighting projects and work with nature. To be able to do it with professionals like Mashamba is always an honour. Their gardens are already designed with a lot of magic!

Lighting is a very delicate factor that helps us to beautify a project both indoors and outdoors.  But it is true that the sensibility that one needs to illuminate an outdoor project must be much greater. The illumination must be both just and necessary and beautiful and elegant.  It must complement the garden and create the shade and light to give life to the garden at night.

Kriss and her team are based here on the island of Mallorca.