Thursday, April 13, 2006

Birdfeeders and Solar Lighting for your Garden

By Christina VanGinkel

Solar lighting for your yard and garden are not only all the rage this season, they are just what our yards and gardens have been in need of all this time, and we just never even knew it. Walking through Home Depot with my husband yesterday, we headed to the garden and outdoor departments to see what new items were hitting the shelves. With spring in full gear, and summer just around the corner, the garden center and outdoor departments are in their prime. We stopped to check out several racks of bird feeders, because by habit, we are always looking for new feeders to add to our yard. Feeding the birds is one of our favorite hobbies. What we discovered was both intriguing and enlightening, pun intended!

The Solar Birdfeeder with Stand, advertised as a birdfeeder by day, and a lantern by night, resembles a lantern from some long ago time, possibly one that would grace an elegant carriage made to convey royalty. Made of brass, powder-coated aluminum, and glass panes, with a lovely pewter finish, this lantern turned feeder, turned lantern is one thing and another all combined into one very ingenious design. It has built-in solar panels, which power six amber LEDs. If you have wanted to add some soft lighting to your garden at night, these would be an ideal way to achieve this, especially if you already have a need or desire for new feeders, and do not want to add more pieces of equipment to the space than is necessary. The feeder holds two and a half pounds of seed, the stand is sixty-three inches high, and the feeder with stand is weighted for stability.

I had heard about these feeders / lanterns before, but had never seen one before this. I was pleasantly surprised that they were as elegant looking as I had heard. When talking about these and other feeders and lighting choices with a few fellow gardening friends just a few days before, one person made an offhand comment about birds not feeding at night. No, they do not, but the prospect of providing illumination without electrical cords, and without having extra equipment, i.e., lights, scattered about the garden during the day, was what I considered a perfect combination. That they looked as good during the day as they would at night, and provide double duty as a feeder for the birds was a major plus to the overall fact of them being lanterns.

If you have a garden that you would like to enjoy even into the evening hours, lining a path through that garden with these would be an ideal way to do just that. They could even provide enough light for an evening stroll, but one that is more of a soft glow than a bright glare, a light that would still allow a bit of stargazing. With some lights, the brightness is overpowering, and it makes it difficult to enjoy the night sky. These are a soft enough light that you will not have to deal with that issue, yet it is bright enough to make it easy to see where to walk. Take note: I would not consider these as a source of light bright enough to provide safety, only as an enjoyable way to softly light a path or area.

There were actually two different sizes of feeders available with the built in lantern. The one that held the two and a half pounds of seed retailed for just under eighty dollars, with the smaller one roughly half of that. I found the larger one online though for just over sixty, so there are bargains to be found.

There are other solar powered garden accessories available, including products such as solar powered gnomes, solar enhanced globes in various colors and designs, solar footlights in assorted colors, and ornaments filled with what is referred to as phosphorescent fairy dust, which soaks up the rays of the sun all day, then glow long into the night. Uses for these was far ranging and included tasks such as stringing from trees for a lovely effect to even floating in a pond. Big pond or small, I think these would look fabulous. If you are looking for a way to bring some light to your garden, check out the many new solar powered options available.

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