Gardens of Light

It was cold the other night. Very cold. And for three hours, I stood outside in the dark. I was happy.

I was volunteering at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal as part of an event that spanned two continents: in Poland; in Denmark; in Germany; in Russia; in France and in China. Do follow the links: you’ll immediately have a clutch of places to add to your ‘must visit’ list.

In all these places, for one dark chilly night in February, there was a Garden of Light. Normally, we can only enjoy the Water Gardens of Studley Royal by daylight. But thanks to this international festival, there was a new opportunity.

Looking across the Moon Ponds towards the Temple of Piety as night falls.

As night fell, lighting designed to spotlight the special features of the gardens pierced the darkness, revealing a garden in harmony with the philosophy of the time in which it was conceived: where Nature and Art work hand in hand. 18th century music played in the background.

Visitors were able to stroll round, lanterns or torches in hand, focusing on the Temple of Piety and the classical statuary of the Moon Ponds; or glancing upwards at the Octagon Tower and Temple of Fame, all bathed in golden light. The Moon Ponds themselves were lit by glowing orbs – sometimes silver white, sometimes red or blue, fading in intensity as the evening wore on.

The Abbey too was lit up, though I barely saw this as it wasn’t my role to be available there.

A deliberately out-of-focus shot of the Abbey.

The moon was perfect – exactly half way between waxing and waning, it lit the visitors’ paths and illuminated the night sky. Whenever I looked up there was Orion’s Belt – and so many other stars usually invisible to town-dwellers.

Those of us there relished the chance to enjoy this peaceful yet joyous occasion. And as the event drew to a close, owls reclaimed the night, and their plaintive hooting accompanied us as we walked away, chilly but content.

The evening draws to a close and visitors take their lanterns home.

20 thoughts on “Gardens of Light”

  1. It looks like a magical evening. If you’re ever in Granada I can recommend the Alhambra at night time. We went in May so we had to wait a while for our tour because it got dark late. But it was warm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, all of those other locations did the same thing on the same night? That’s really neat, that sense of being together under one dark sky. Your experiences volunteering at Fountains Abbey always sound so special–the photo of the abbey is great!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. It hasn’t snowed much today but the accumulated snow from earlier in the week and the high winds have caused drifts that have cut us off from the other villages and the main towns. We are also about to run out of gas with no likelihood of a delivery any time soon. No heating or hot water – oh no!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. How beautiful. I can imagine how peaceful it must have been, despite the cold. I imagine the cold augmented the whole experience. Is there a reason why February was chosen for the event? I’m off to check out the links now so perhaps the answer is already under my nose!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It must have been lovely despite the chill. Challenging to take photos in the low light I should think. I like the first one very much and I also like the one of the abbey.


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