Date: May 15, 2023
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Garden Lighting

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Illume is an amazing display that incorporates 28 hand-forged lanterns hung on a 200-year-old Oak tree at the Ojai Valley Inn. After being mesmerized by the tree during my stay, I knew I wanted to recreate it at home.

For those who have been following me, you know I took an unbelievable trip to Ojai, California at the beginning of the year and stayed at the positively amazing, Ojai Valley Inn. While the entire stay was beyond wonderful and I am already planning my next trip, there was one specific thing that I could not get out of my mind, the illuminated Oak tree.

There are many Oak trees on the grounds of the Ojai Valley Inn, but this specific one is over 200 years old and is absolutely majestic. The magic of this tree and its 28 hand-crafted lanterns are absolutely impossible to capture, trust me, we tried. I am not sure how many photos and videos both of us took and neither of us felt like we got a great photo of it.

The Illume lanterns were created by Paul Ferrante and premiered at the inn in 2016. The tree is steps away from the Wallace Neff bar, The Oak, and many of the other outdoor areas at the inn. This tree is the most perfect backdrop for dinner and drinks. It also is the perfect finish to the evening for guests after they take in the "Pink Moment" that happens every evening in the Ojai Valley.

After I came home I could not get the tree and its magic out of my mind. It was so peaceful and calming that I wanted to recreate it somehow in my own yard. Now, I didn't have the budget or the right tree, but I wanted something

We really only have one tree that was big enough and had the right structure for lights to be added. My husband was not so sure about this and I knew that adding electrical, like at the inn, was not feasible either so I thought about the next best thing, solar power!

I quickly hopped on to Amazon to see what options might be out there. Shockingly, there are several to choose from. While it took a while to find the right sizes and mix of lanterns, I honestly think I got it as perfect as it could be. The lanterns I choose are a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, although I did try to stay with a mostly bronze mix for color.

Placing the lanterns was quick and easy, it just took a bit to really look at the tree and position them for spacing. I attached the lanterns with gear ties to the branches. Gear ties made more sense for the health of the branches and should I decide to take them down during the winter.

After the lights were up, all that was left to do was wait for nighttime. As the lights slowly turned on, I knew I was in love. I felt the same feeling of peacefulness sprinkled with a little bit of magic that I did in Ojai. When I texted my friend a picture, she felt the same. Now, I have taken probably over a hundred photos and a couple dozen videos, and again, do not feel like I can totally capture the beauty of my illuminated tree.

One of the people I showed photos to, thought the tree was really pretty in photos, but one night at my house, as the lights slowly turned on, one by one, she felt the difference. She said, "Okay, now I get it, your tree is so cool!" All I could do was laugh and tell her that I understood, it's like magic.

If you are looking to do something unique and special in your yard, I can not recommend this enough. Fair warning, if your tree is super dense, the solar option might not work as well, or you might need to change the batteries more often. So far the lights have faired very well through our crazy Kansas weather. Since they have been up, they have made it through three very severe weather events and are all still working like a charm. As we have more work done, I will add more to our yard and will share those with you as well.

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