Harmonizing Your Garden with Feng Shui By Doreen Pendgracs
(This article appears on the Vantage Canada website at: http://www.vantagemagazine.ca/articles/fengshui.php?section=wellness)
I first learned of feng shui back in 1999, when I happened upon an article about it in a local newspaper. Since then, the Chinese ancient art of placement and design has had an effect on every aspect of my life - including my appreciation for the beauty of nature and understanding the need for balance.
Feng shui is all about balance, placement and harmony. It is about equalizing the yin and the yang (complementary opposites) in any environment in order to make it more comfortable and positive for its inhabitants and visitors. The result will be a harmonious symbiosis between you and your environment.
Feng shui (pronounced "fung shway") translates from the Chinese words for wind and water - the two fundamentals the Chinese believe are most critical to balancing the life energy called chi (pronounced "chee") and keeping that energy fresh and vibrant. And by balancing that energy and fostering the positive while minimizing the negative, we are able to open the door to improving our health, wealth, careers and relationships.
The Chinese - and an increasing number of North Americans - believe that when we design anything from a building to its landscape and interior, we should carefully consider a balance of the five basic elements of earth, metal, water, wood and fire. So when we're designing a feng shui garden, we must be sure to represent each of these elements in balance.
The thing to remember about feng shui is that you can use symbolism to represent a certain element, when the real thing is not practical. In an earthen garden, it's easy to use real earth. Metal is easily represented with a metal or wrought iron sculpture or accent piece.
Ponds and Fountains
Water is big - very big - in feng shui, which explains the rise in popularity of outdoor and indoor table-top fountains. A fountain is an excellent addition to any garden, both for its natural aesthetics and its importance in feng shui. The important thing is that the water be kept clean and constantly running as the Chinese believe that stagnant water harbors stagnant energy. Fresh, running water is the symbol of wealth and heavenly blessings.
Ponds also provide an excellent opportunity to introduce the water element into your garden. A water garden that is built with the right filtration system encourages clean and constantly running water. A circulatory filtration system in which the water is drawn from the pond and filtered by a skimmer circulated into a biological filter then falling back into the pond, ensures constantly moving water.
In the process, not only is debris removed from the water, but a biological filtration happens, keeping the water clean via bacteria living in the gravel and in the filter media. The system ensures the water is constantly moving and never stagnant, and that is very important for creating the best feng shui conditions.
Let the water - and your creativity - flow with endless energy. Use rocks, stone such as granite or marble, ceramics, terra cotta or seashells to represent the earth element.
Choosing Your Plants
Plants, including bamboo, wicker, cotton and other natural fabrics represent the wood element. But not all plants are considered equal in feng shui. Differently shaped and textured plants create different types of energy.
Plants with smooth, rounded leaves are preferred, making jade plants the feng shui favourite. The begonia is another feng shui favourite with a perfect balance of yin (passive night-time energy, darker colours and "feminine" round shapes) and yang (active day-time energy, lighter colours and more "masculine" sharper edges).
Plants with pointed leaves are alright as long as the leaves are not pointing where you sit as in feng shui, pointed tips, whether on a plant, wood carving or piece of furniture are considered to be "poison arrows" that would direct negative chi your way.
If you have a strong desire to include cacti in your garden, it is best not to have them at the entrance or where anyone will be inclined to brush against them. Because of their needles, they are considered to be "unwelcoming." The same goes for rose bushes. The thorns or spikes on plants such as roses are said to create negative energy.
If you are a lover of roses and must include them, it is preferable to put them along a fence or in the back of your garden where they will do the least harm. But remember. Feng shui is all about intuition and feeling good. So donít go and dig out all your rose bushes if they are your favourite plant. Just be sure to surround them with some feng shui friendly favourites or try to buy the thornless varieties.
When choosing plants for your feng shui garden, it's also important to take stock of your available time. Gardeners with unlimited time can choose high maintenance plants, but those of us with limited time resources should choose low maintenance plants that are easy to look after, don't shed lots of dead leaves and dry flowers and look their best for the longest possible time. Feng shui is all about positive energy, and having a garden that looks good at all times will optimize your positive energy.
Symbolism is an important tool in feng shui. Birds symbolize happiness. Bats symbolize good luck, as do deer and bamboo. Fish symbolize abundance. Sometimes the symbolism is easy to understand. Other times -- such as how seashells symbolize earth ñ itís not quite as straight forward.
How do you represent the fire element in your garden? There are two ways. By using symbolism, you can represent fire with candles, outdoor lights or torches. You can also represent fire through the use of colour.
When we think of fire, we think red-hot. So introducing striking red accent pieces or a perpetually flowering plant with bright red blossoms would also do the trick. If you're looking to spice up your love life, you might want to introduce some red into your bedroom as well, as it's also said to fuel our internal fires!
Let's get back to feng shui basics for your garden. By now, you've probably got a good idea of how important balance and the use of the five elements are in feng shui. Another important feng shui principle to remember is to keep your garden or pond free of clutter. Clutter is one of the biggest no-noís in feng shui. Keep it clean and simple, and remember to clean out any dead plants from within your garden, as dead plants and dried flowers carry negative chi. .. .. continue to page 2