Feng Shui not only applies to our buildings or our ‘internal’ environments but it also equally applies to our gardens. The garden is capable of enhancing our Chi just as well as the building is.
In Feng Shui the garden is considered to be ‘the lifeblood of living earth’ and the Chinese believe that our garden is like our personal aura as it reflects to others a considerable amount about us before they have even stepped inside.
This importance of the garden is the same in many other cultures, the Japanese garden for instance, plays an integral part in the overall aesthetics of a building. Chinese gardens traditionally mirrored the natural landscape features surrounding the environment, for instance the ‘perfect’ garden would be comprised of a mix of Yin and Yang, or smooth and course textures, as in rocks and water. Differing images or symbolism can also create a different feeling to the garden, for instance a Buddha, a pagoda, or a bridge can create totally different feelings and symbols for the individual.
No matter what we include in our gardens the most important aspect is Chi, or free flowing energy because without this the feeling is stagnation. Creating slow moving or meandering Chi (cosmic breath) is important in the Feng Shui garden because we want to relax and ‘be still’ while there.
Straight paths, therefore, can create energy that is too fast, whereas gentle curving paths are much more likely to create a softer, more meandering pace. If you already have straight paths or driveways you can soften these by planting gardens along the edges and allowing the plants to grow over the straight edges.
Water is the other feature needed within the garden to create the two vital elements Wind and Water (Feng Shui literally translated). So a still pond, a fountain, or a recirculating water object can bring in this much needed element.
There are three schools of thought on bodies of water. One is that water is beneficial only in the front part of the section, the second is that water is auspicious only in areas where it is generative when concerning the Five Elements Theory – Career (the central front part of the section or the North direction if using the Compass Method), Family/Ancestors/Health (the middle left area of the section, or East direction), Wealth/Blessings (the top left hand corner of the section, or South East direction).
The other school of thought is that clean, free-flowing water is advantageous to us no matter where it is. The best idea is to use your intuition when deciding where you want your water aspect to be placed.
On the other side of the coin, no matter where we have dirty, stagnant water we are going to have stale, stuck energy which is definitely not beneficial to us over the long term. Waterlilies and goldfish are also good Chi enhancers to utilise with any water feature.
Secret gardens are another aspect of the Feng Shui garden. There is nothing more exciting than coming across a separate, concealed, or secret part of the garden which has been loved and nurtured.
This secret area allows us respite from the intrusions of the outside world and gives us a chance to retreat, relax, or meditate. Secret areas can be created by using hedging, fences, or even trees to allow us an area that is separated from the rest of the yard.
If you were creating a secret garden in the Relationship area (top right hand corner of the section, or the South West direction) you could incorporate all the ideas that encompass relationships, for example, love seats, swinging seats, small table and chairs for couples, red, pink or white flowers, plus anything that is relationship orientated such as statues of two love birds or two mandarin ducks.
Smell is also very important in the garden, especially in a lovers garden, so a beautiful fragrant, red, pink or white, flowering shrub or climber would be ideal to create exactly the ambience you desire.
On the other hand if you were wanting to create a meditation or contemplation garden then you would try to create this in the Inner Knowledge area (bottom left hand corner as you enter the section, or the North East direction).
This could be an area that represents what ever spiritual leaning you have, for example, if you like Buddhas and felt that a Chinese orientated garden suited you, you could create a ‘temple’ feeling in this area.
You can utilise the Ba Gua grid to decide upon the exact area which would enhance your aims, as mentioned earlier – relationship / lovers garden in the Relationship area; meditation / contemplation garden in the Inner Knowledge area, and so on.
Most important of all, as you plan and create your garden, it is beneficial if it represents or contains all the elements of Feng Shui – soft lines, colour, touch, sight, smell and most important of all, “feel or spirit”.
COLOR AND TEXTURE IN YOUR GARDEN
Color, texture, layer, and spacing have to be considered when planting gardens. Mix ground plants with pot planted to create a balance, especially with pot containers for terraces, patios and steps. Containers create attractive changes of levels and soften the appearances. Containers form structural points of interest and are used to frame steps or patios. Most plants can be grown in containers; even climbers can be planted in containers next to a wall.
Containers are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, from wooden to ceramic pots. Water enhances your garden and brings a special fascination to any garden with an inherent tranquility with restful sounds and movement. A stepped waterfall adds calmness with water bubbling over stones or rocks.
Patios and courtyards are hard surfaced spaces with enclosed gardens and are ideal spaces to create when you live in towns and cities with limited space. Providing an area for sitting and an informal eating-place on a patio can be interesting and smoothing to the nerves. Displaying a wide range of plants in containers, including herbs, small trees, shrubs, flowers and fruit trees enhance your space and make good Feng Shui for city living. Climbers in containers are useful to soften the edge of rigid and hard elements and add character to your home.
By adding a screen or trellis with decorative climbers, vines add privacy and protection from wind. Change of levels is often useful in developing a compact space and can be done with different size pots. Small lights can be added for practical use as well as being attractive.
City living calls for low maintenance design and the weight of the containers lighten the patio or deck load. Plastic or fiberglass containers are preferable to those made with terracotta or stone. If your garden is subject to strong winds trellis and other windbreak filters provide shelter for you and your plants. No one can appreciate the importance of having a small patio garden, than me. After years of city living. Now I truly appreciate the beautiful garden that I have created from living in a ground level home.
Trees are most often valued for their shading and framing that provide interest with foliage, flowers, and plants and walk ways. Flowers, with their bright colors, planted amongst trees bring contrasts to the green lush leaves of a tree. However, there are certain trees that have their own beauty such as a Japanese maple and where planted in the right location adds to the design of the garden. Plants that change character with the seasons give a garden a lively interest. By planting trees that flower successively such as a Judas tree or catalpa for summer and Eucryphia nymansesis for fall and automnalis for winter, on going interest is maintained with the focal point altering as the seasons change. Most evergreens provide interest all year.