Environment is defined as the circumstances, objects or conditions by which one is surrounded. Creating a garden environment provides an opportunity to be in harmony with the natural world. Whether it is a pot of flowers on your deck, a full-blown perennial garden or the surprise of a blue garden door, both the design and planting begin a partnership with nature. And just looking out your window onto flowers or woods, offers a visual connection that provides stress relieving moments.
I have loved gardening for as long as I can recall. My Mother loved to garden so, perhaps, that was the influence. I began serious flower gardening after I was newly married and we moved into our home. There was lots of yard and an existing large garden that had not been attended to. It became my laboratory for learning about different soils, annuals, perennials, colors, shapes, mulch and “zones.” It remained a source of creative pleasure until, twenty years later, I moved into a townhome. I was newly divorced and working full time. No time to garden. My townhome was landscaped with rock and shrubs and the absence of maintenance was a relief. For the first summer! The second summer I realized something was definitely missing in my life – I “needed” to get my hands in the soil!
To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. –Mohandas K. Gandhi
It wasn’t until my third summer in the townhome that I was able to act on that “need.” I slowly and laboriously removed the rocks and shrubs that surrounded my townhome. I started amending the soil. The following summer, a garden was born. Six years later, I began my study of Feng Shui and a new perspective to gardening was introduced.
While the practice of Feng Shui is more commonly associated with buildings and their interiors, the outside world (nature) remains its original focus. The Feng Shui of your house is believed to influence your life from a personal point of view. The Feng Shui of your landscaping influences the more public aspects of your life.
Your space reflects your life is a basic Feng Shui principle. When you decide to change the color of a room or engage in a major redecorating project, something is either shifting or is about to shift in your life. When change happens in your physical environment, your life is affected in some small or big way. These may be intentional changes to call in a partner, enhance an existing relationship, create an opportunity for a new job or career, and so on; however, be aware that, even without intention, when you modify something in your physical environment, a change in your life will present itself.
And what about the outer aspect of your environment, the landscape? The health and appeal of your outer environment must be well tended to create and attract healthy Chi and it matters not whether you have a large or small garden, a container garden, a window box, or shrubs and trees! Think of driving by a home that has a well-cared for landscape with healthy shrubs, a lovely garden or pots of flowers. Now think of driving by a home where the shrubs are dead and flowers uncared for. That’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy Chi! And it gives us insight into the lives of the inhabitants.
Feng Shui taught me to garden with a different intention. I was able to more deeply tap into my inspiration and creativity as I became more in harmony with the natural world. It focused my attention on optimizing the Chi of my outside space to welcome new opportunities and experiences in my life.
The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature. –Jeff Cox
The gardens in our culture are typically a yang experience, that is, we often see the entire garden as one large burst of color. No surprise there! The Feng Shui garden, on the other hand, intentionally creates a balance of yin and yang, encouraging more of a “journey” of the eye, allowing the garden to more slowly reveal itself.
Instead of straight borders, I began to curve the garden beds to create a gentle flow of Chi. Balancing active energy with still energy, I incorporated large rocks to anchor and define the garden. I added fountains and birdbaths to bring auspicious water to the property. Sound is an important component of the Chi of a garden and is present in the gentle gurgle of my water fountains, the melodious sounds of an added wind chime and the songbirds attracted to the birdfeeders. I added garden benches and sculptures to provide focal points for quiet thought and contemplation.
A charming fairy statue stands as a sentinel among the hosta at the entry of my patio. Buddha
statues sit among the flowers and contribute to a sense of stillness. A gazing ball stands at one end of the patio and its mirrored reflection serves two purposes: it “doubles” the garden and allows me to see who might be entering the patio.
Coming upon something unexpected and delightful definitely lifts your Chi. A little elf house is tucked in the front garden, seen only by those who take the time to look. Throughout the gardens, fairy houses add a sense of playfulness.
Both the approach to your home and to the front door are critically important areas to attract positive Chi. Two Foo Dogs protect the approach to our home and potted rose trees flank our front door, welcoming all who enter.
I continue to translate the concepts I’ve learned from my Feng Shui practice to balance the yin and yang in my garden. I’ve integrated the Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water for added balance. I’ve made significant headway with choosing colors, textures and varying heights and bloom times of plantings in my ongoing goal to create a perennial garden that blooms throughout spring, summer and fall. And the inspiration derived from my visits to ancient gardens in China continues to motivate. Creating a garden environment is a work in progress; a labor of love!
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. –Alfred Austin