P90629KKIncandescent light bulbs were the standard form of electric lighting for more than a century after their invention. It took a while for fluorescent and halogen lamps to become popular; and by the time they did, high intensity discharge (HID) lamps had already become available. Nowadays, light emitting diode (LED) lamps seem to be replacing all sorts of electric lighting.
For a brief time in the late 1980s, high intensity lamps that were being used for large scale applications and street lamps became a fad for exterior household lighting. They worked nicely for driveways, so many of us believed that they would work just as nicely for night lighting of home gardens and patios.
By that time, most of us had realized that the sickly yellowish glare of the sodium vapor type of high intensity lamps that were so common as street lamps was not at all appealing around the home, and was downright unflattering for foliage and flowers in the garden. Mercury vapor high intensity lamps became more popular for such applications instead, even though their slightly bluish bright glare is no more inviting.
During this time, while the renowned landscape designer Brent Green and I were still studying horticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, his father had a rather fancy mercury vapor lamp installed in his backyard.
Of course, Brent was furious! He had put so much effort into cultivating a remarkably inviting outdoor living space, only to have it illuminated at night like an industrial warehouse. When turned on, the lamp made a constant buzzing hum. It hung from a wall like a big glowing paper wasp nest. Brent referred to it at the ‘beehive’.
The quality of light produced by modern electrical light sources has fortunately improved since then. Nonetheless, contraptions such as this street lamp suspended on an otherwise exemplary ponderosa pine are not easy to warm up to.


8 thoughts on “Beehive

    1. Oh, this is the sort of lighting that do you not need to know more about. It was modern technology at the time, and used less electricity for the amount of light, but the light quality is dreadful, and the humming of the ballast is weird. As much as I dislike modern technology, LED seems to be a good compromise now. I don’t use any of it in my own garden, so it does not matter much.

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  1. I will admit that LED is better for the environment because it uses less energy… but not liked in my environment. It’s light pollution from coast to coast. I’m old enough to remember what night used to be like.

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    1. It is a foreign concept to me. I know I prefer incandescent, but what is even better than that is no light at all. People should be in bed at night. Even if I am up at night, I do not work in the garden. There was no electricity in my last home and garden, so I used kerosene. Although I do not recommend that either, I think people would appreciate electrical lighting more if it were not so easy.

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