Just because it winter time doesn’t mean you should abandon your garden. What better way to highlight your garden art or that prized topiary than with the glow of candlelight as it illuminates the night? Making your own ice lanterns to celebrate the holidays makes a bold statement and brings attention to your garden as well.
Choosing a Mold
Choose a mold for your ice lantern. Although you can purchase molds specifically for making ice lanterns, they aren’t necessary. Any solid bucket or bin will work. Consider the size and shape when choosing molds.
Filling With Water
Fill the mold with water to the desired height and allow 1 inch for expansion when the water freezes. According to Ice Lanterns, an Internet site provides commercial molds, distilled water is not recommended as natural water with impurities makes the most attractive ice lanterns and reflects light in unusual patterns. Distilled water creates a clear ice lantern, but the illumination is predictable and less dramatic.
Adding food coloring to the water creates interest. Think ice blue or golden yellow. You may wish to experiment with smaller molds to find the effect that works for you and enhances the beauty of your garden before adding color to a full-sized ice lantern.
Freezing the Ice Lantern
Place the mold outside in the snow. The object is to freeze only the outside shell of water, so check the water often by peering down into the bucket. Ice should be approximately 2 inches thick on the side for best results.
Releasing the Mold
When the ice has frozen around the sides of the bucket, turn the bucket up side down on the ground.
Pour hot water over the outside of the bucket so that it flows evenly over all sides. This warms the bucket and the surface of the ice inside the bucket. The ice slips free of the bucket. Remove the bucket, using care not to crack or break the ice lantern shell.
Preparing the Ice Lantern
Carefully remove the thin layer of ice from the top of the lantern. This is the area that was on the bottom of the bucket and should be thin enough to break with your fingers or an ice pick. Work the ice free and smooth the edges with your fingers.
Choosing a Location
Place the ice lantern in the desired location in your garden. Consider arranging several ice lanterns on the garden steps to create a tiered effect or ice a tiered plant stand to add depth to your garden. Ice lanterns can also be used to highlight garden statuaries, topiaries and other garden art.
Adding the Candle
Insert a pillar candle in the center and light. Because the sides of your ice lantern extend above the candle, the wind cannot blow it out.
Don’t forget to light the candles before guests arrive so they too can enjoy your enchanted garden.