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Garden Aglow

Using candles outdoors creates a relaxing atmosphere in the yard.

There is something about candlelight in the garden that appeals to Kathy Wetherbee's senses.

"I think its magical," said Wetherbee, a lifelong gardener and feng shui consultant in Modesto, Calif. "It creates an environment."

And, Wetherbee added, the aura created by candlelight, "gives the garden a whole different look."

Sure, go to any store with a home and garden department and you'll see an assortment of electrical and solar-powered lighting made especially for the great outdoors. But nothing lights up the night quite like candles.

Using candlelight outdoors isn't just about illuminating a dark area. It's about creating a cozy, intimate and relaxing atmosphere.

Besides, candles now come in an assortment of shapes, styles and fragrances, from formal to whimsical.

At Target, candles and candleholders are available in bright colors and fanciful shapes. There are floating candles in deep hot pinks, playful purples and cool sea-breeze blues.

One set, a part of the company's Summerville product line, comes with three butterfly-shaped candles in blue, orange and purple. A similar set of three features a fruit theme with lime, watermelon and tangerine candles. Both sets come with their own glass bowl, so all users have to do is add water to the bowl, float the candles and light them. Each set costs about $8.

The Summerville collection also includes candles in funky, vibrant colors, some with patterns (the turquoise polka dot candle pail sells for $5), others in sturdy glass, such as the fuchsia candle that sells for $8. The store's assortment of candles is available with and without fragrance.

Speaking of fragrance, citronella candles continue to be a popular outdoor choice. According to information gleaned from several Web sites, citronella is a tall, blue-green, lemon-scented perennial grass. Its leaves are used to make citronella oil.

Stores sell the candles in terra-cotta containers and metal pails, but candle manufacturers have come up with inventive styles. Pier 1 Imports sells a set of six striped, 35-inch citronella torches for $5. They also carry citronella candles on a stick. The candles, which cost $1, are shaped like colorful fish, flowers and stars.

For those with more formal tastes in their candleware, stores also offer lanterns that can grace a table or hang from a hook or tree. Candle lanterns come in an array of prices from $7 to as much as $300 (for lanterns with decorative etched glass or made of expensive materials such as copper or brass).

But you don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive candles to enjoy their glow outdoors.

"They can get pricey," Wetherbee said. In fact, she prefers buying tealight candles -- small 1-inch candles that come in their own little metal-like, heat-resistant holders.

"They are inexpensive and they look like little fairy lights," she said. "I use them all the time to decorate."

So whether you're having guests over for an evening barbecue or just looking to create a relaxing, quiet retreat, grab a candle or two or three and light up your night.

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