Tag Archives: garden

There are Fairies Here

“There are fairies here and, if you promise to be very quiet, you can see them!”

When I was quite young, our family was invited to a friend’s home. These people had two daughters about 12 and 13 years old and, when we arrived, this is what my younger sister and I were told. I recall walking into a darkened room where, on a table were a couple of shimmering lights that looked like tiny fairies! I was mesmerized. I recall nothing more of that night and it was never mentioned again, but the images and the mystery of what we saw remain with me to this day. It was a magical childhood experience.

While I’ve not had subsequent fairy sightings, I’ve always loved the idea of the existence of tinySprouts creatures such as elves and fairies. Many years later, I had the good fortune of meeting Frank and Bell Barr, who believe in the wonder of fairies and were actually making whimsical Faerie Houses for them! These little houses brought back that early childhood experience with fairies and the magic surrounding it. According to Frank and Bell, who use the Old French archaic spelling of faerie, they see their Faerie Houses as “physical incarnations of the Faerie spirit – a willing imagination, a playful heart, and an appreciation of the present moment.

Fairy house in garden copyAt the time, I was creating my gardens, based on Feng Shui principles, and teaching about Feng Shui gardening. I was so utterly charmed by these tiny faerie houses, I began adding them to my garden and recommending them for my client’s gardens. They add whimsy wherever they are placed and hold the energy of both movement (faeries flying in and out) and sound (a tiny bell is tucked into each). They also offer a moment of pause, providing an opportunity to let your imagination take over, if but for a minute.

When my townhome association made me remove a beautiful crabapple tree from my patio, I wasIMG_METAL TREE copy devastated! What had been a lovely landing place for songbirds became an empty void. Several months later, I was visiting a friend’s garden and noticed a metal tree sculpture “planted” in the middle of hosta. I thought it a solution to that void! I immediately purchased one, knowing I would fill it with faerie houses!

This month, Frank and Bell hosted an open house to celebrate their 20th anniversary of creating these enchanting houses. Their home is a perfect representation of their energy – a delightful environment filled with color and whimsy, intentionally designed to remind us our inner child, with its capacity for delight, awe and belief in magic, is always there!

In this month of Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful to Frank and Bell for the joy they create in the world and to the Faeries!Fairy01

A Burst of Garden Chi

Following our trip to Texas, I returned home to experience an unexpected burst of garden Chi! It’s not that my garden suddenly burst forth, rather my energy for adding to and re-creating sections of my garden took over!

As you are aware from my blogs about gardening, this creative activity is a passion for me. However, you also need to know that, while spring sets that passion in full force, when August rolls around my Chi for gardening is winding way down. That’s why this unusual burst of energy took me by surprise.

It is a fact that we become complacent in our environments and lose our “Feng Shui eyes” for assessing areas that develop stagnant or stuck energy. A tenet of Feng Shui is “your space reflects your life.” Our lives are constantly changing and in order to make sure our indoor and outdoor spaces are supporting our journey, it is useful to periodically assess them. One of the best times to do this is immediately after returning from a trip – whether a weekend or a month away. We call this “seeing with fresh, or Feng Shui, eyes.”

That’s what happened to me upon our return from Texas! I “saw” my gardensFlowers
with fresh eyes and suddenly became aware of areas that were overgrown (cluttered), areas that no longer appealed (didn’t lift my energy when I looked at them) and areas that could benefit from more energy (an opportunity to add more plants.)

WheelBIntentions were set and I began making the changes with an enthusiasm usually reserved for spring! I ruthlessly removed overgrown or crowded plants. I pulled out plants that no longer pleased me and gave them to friends to provide new energy for their gardens. I purchased 26 new perennials and one flowering tree and set to work! Each perennial was planted in its new space with intention.  I was a gardener on fire!

Now, when I step back and view the garden, it is apparent that my burst ofGarden02
garden Chi definitely elevated the energy around our home during these waning days of summer! I think I’m done until next spring!

Creating a Garden Environment

03GardenEnvironment 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 WheelB“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.

garden-2And 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.

garden2Instead 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. BuddhaBall
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.

GdnHomeComing 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 FtDoorthe 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

From Earth to Metal

It’s that time again! The days are becoming shorter and the nights cooler. Based on the Five Element Theory, we’re experiencing the shift from Earth to Metal. This theory postulates these five elements make up all matter that influence everything and everyone: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.

Chart2Water is considered the storehouse of vital essence. It is responsible for growth, development and reproduction and promotes introspection, persistence and motivation.Water is the winter element. The next element, Wood, reflects growth; it carries the seed of new life and is associated with spring. Fire symbolizes the warmth, brilliance and vitality of summer. Earth brings fullness, fertility, order and stability; it is the center from which we operate. When we are centered and grounded, we are better able to embrace inevitable change. Earth is an element of transmutation; it represents late summer – those last warm days before cool weather sets in. The Metal element represents the harvest of fall. It reflects a gathering of soul and spirit and brings decline and contraction with shorter days and colder nights.

And, of course, we see this in progress as we watch our gardens give one last eruption of beauty before dying back in preparation for the dormant rest period over the winter months. We transition from basking in the warm sun to basking in the exuberant fall colors – one last hurrah before the leaves fall.

43282971 - halloween pumpkin head jack lantern on wooden backgroundI typically resist this shift from Earth to Metal until I can no longer ignore the Halloween decorations and pumpkins that suddenly dominate the landscape! I release my hold on the Earth energy and allow myself to become a full-blown participant in the activities appropriate with the fall season. A burst of energy compels me to re-organize my closet. I put away summer clothes, shoes and bags while deciding what stays for another season and what gets recycled. I’m infused with the sense of order the Metal (autumnal energy) element brings. I organize my closet and my kitchen. I pull out the slow cooker; squash soup replaces tuna salad. Fall is officially here and its Metal energy insists on change and a sense of order I can no longer deny.

I begin my garden clean up to assist it in preparation for the coming transition to the Water element of Jimmieswinter. I change out my pots, replacing those plants that succumbed to the changes in temperature with plants that enjoy the cooler nights. I add pumpkins and gourds. While I I know, of course, this natural evolution will happen with or without me, those outdoor pots are a visible statement that I am no longer in resistance.

What other inevitable changes in our life do we resist? How long do we put off succumbing to them? And when we finally do, how do we acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we have actually moved forward? Each season brings the opportunity to look inward at what change or changes are waiting to be acknowledged. We can use the Earth energy of the changing seasons as a gently reminder to look at where and what we might be resisting in our lives and then use the elemental energy of the season to support us in making the transition. There is a rhythm to everything in life; there is a time for growth, and a time for rest. Being in the flow acknowledges these life cycles. And we are reminded of the truth of the Feng Shui Principle: nature is our model.

Revitalizing My Garden

As my body was regenerating, I set about revitalizing my garden.

It had been neglected for a year because of my injury. Now, looking at my garden anew this spring, I felt overwhelmed and discouraged by the weeds and overgrowth that had taken advantage of my forced neglect.

14256875 - dried plantsI was staring at clutter! In Feng Shui, clutter is regarded as stuck energy. Things that aren’t removed in a timely fashion and continue to accumulate are considered clutter. Think of the kitchen junk drawer, that spare bedroom or the basement – all potential clutter magnets. And the same can happen in our outdoor spaces: uncleaned flowerpots or plants that are either over-grown or situated in the wrong place, for example! Yikes! You just want to close the door, shut it out, and make it all go away! It is energy draining! And that is exactly what I was feeling as I surveyed my garden!

I had to take a deep breath and do as I suggest to my Feng Shui clients, start small! I began with afaerie-house
small section of my garden and worked there until it was cleaned up and cleared out. I didn’t allow myself to become distracted by other areas calling my attention. Slowly but surely, week-by-week, I restored some sense of order by clearing out overgrowth and digging out weeds. Each week, after diligent and hard work in the garden, which also was physically challenging my body, I rewarded myself with day trips to favorite garden shops. I revitalized my garden with new plantings. I was healing my garden as my garden was healing me.

The following words, author unknown, were shared with me by another dear friend, who also has a passion for gardening. She knew I would resonate to these words, as had she.

flowerEndlessly surprising, forever in flux, the garden is an antidote to complacency. As if for the first time, we enter the green rooms of our own making, not knowing exactly what we’ll find each day. That little jolt of pleasure at the threshold is like the shock of falling in love over and over with the same person.

 The garden is a refuge, but not quite a safe haven. It is a breathing thing, and can change overnight. Between one visit and the next, a favorite perch might become carpeted with moss, a tree might be deflowered by a sudden storm, or a spider’s web might appear between two posts like a fairy tale gossamer gate that must not be defiled. We are only guests, after all …58603579 - spider web with colorful background, nature series