by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Novice describes the beauty, openness, style, and a unique gathering. Design experts see the mathematical balance between hardscape and plantscape, yet Asia defines this feeling as Feng Shui.
A Feng Shui design is meant to nourish, create energy, and delights all the senses. It feels wholesome, well rounded, and balanced, bringing people and home together in a natural flow. It satisfies the spirit, and you’re not sure how.
Feng Shui is defined as divine, far eastern, and exotic, but it’s so much more. Good Feng Shui can be found in a Sante Fe style, Cottage gardens, Southwestern cactus gardens, even high mountain cabins. Feng Shui is not a style, but a feeling that flows to you through the design and decorating.
When it comes to sound design, the size of your garden is not the main criteria. Sure, it’s nice to be surrounded by a big, lush garden, but small homes can be equally welcoming with the right landscape design.
A less talented designer is easy to spot, right angles, stark colors, gray concrete, crowded, clutter, with rock lawns that emphasize the uniquely empty starkness. Many of the new tract homes built today are empty, pale, and lacking something, and you don’t know why. Feng Shui brings feeling back into balance with a flow that is right.
The foundation of Feng Shui design always feels genuine. Your garden’s Northeast area is connected to the energy of personal growth and self-cultivation. This is the ideal space for a contemplative ‘Earth’ garden with beautiful rock formations. This is where you want your landscaper to place those ancient lichen-covered boulders that set you apart.
Water features are the purest sense of Feng Shui. Water features placed in Southwest gardens express ‘Money & Abundance’; due East represents ‘Health & Family’, and your Northside defines ‘Career & Path’ in life. Each is a perfect space for Water elements.
Chi is the universal energy that permeates everything around us and is encouraged to flow smoothly through the gardens. Straight lines are rarely present in nature, so it’s more natural to use flowing shapes and pathways for your Feng Shui garden. This same idea is necessary for plant placement. Plants don’t grow naturally in straight lines. A better design is to stagger plants in triangular shapes that flow, rather than marching them in single lines across the yard.
Garden décor is used as subtle Feng Shui cures. Think of the Chi energies needed in each area and match your garden decor accordingly. An outdoor fountain is excellent for the Money & Abundance energy (Southeast). At the same time, a concrete sculpture of a tortoise protects the areas North of your gardens. I’m not a Feng Shui purist because of my love for Gargoyles in the gardens. Have fun at this point by using garden elements that please you personally. It’s OK to mix styles; at its core, Feng Shui is all about the flow of energy, not an Asian look or style, although that is OK too.
Bamboo is commonly used in Feng Shui designs as it represents power, the ability to get along, and flexibility. Several varieties, including Heavenly Bamboo, grows well in the mountains of Arizona.
Wind chimes are an excellent addition to any garden, as their gentle sound creates healing vibrations in the air. There are various wind chimes on the market, from metal to bamboo, with multiple symbols, colors, and chimes. I could get technical with each wind chime design element, but it always comes down to sound. Choose a chime that is personally pleasing for positive vibrations of Feng Shui in the garden.
Bagua is the use of color to articulate harmony, joy, and healing. Choose greens and blues for your garden that emphasize new beginnings and family. Fame and reputation are represented by red, white gold and purples express wealth and prosperity. Love, marriage, and intimacy are energized by pink. Whites and pastels denote a sense of joy, openness, and discernment, just to name my favorite colors.
Enjoy creating your Feng Shui garden with colors and natural elements that bring you pleasure. The more joyful energy you put into your garden, the more joyful and healing your gardens reflect back.
September is the start of the fall planting season. Truckloads of new aspen, maple, and evergreens have just arrived and ideally planted before Thanksgiving. Fresh garden mums, winter-blooming pansy, and all the cool-season vegetables are ready for the season. Go ahead, Autumn is the perfect season to plant and upgrade your gardens for more tranquil, healing energy.
Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners create better gardens here at Watters Garden Center.