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”.