Friday, May 7, 2010

Feng Shui in the Garden

I started using DIY feng shui in my house about 10 years ago. To me, feng shui is a structure on which to build your own sense of balance in a space. I map my baguas and try to balance the elements, but at heart I'm just trying to make a room "feel" good.

You can spot a room that has been arranged with a cold heart, or without the hand or input of the room's users. It will seem dead or impersonal. The light sits heavily in an unbalanced room and the air doesn't move.

I asked a friend who is a knowledgeable amateur to come look at my garden, and she helped me rebalance it. We laid a new patio and reshaped the central bed. We added a water feature and paths.

I was thrilled recently to find Ann Bingley Gallops over at Open Spaces Feng Shui. In her recent newsletter about feng shui in the garden she states, “to get good Feng Shui going in your garden, start with the Bagua, using it just as you would in a room of your home.” On her site, there’s a pdf of the Bagua map (right sidebar, scroll down), which identifies the nine most important parts of your life and aligns it with specific areas of your space.

She continues: “The entry to your garden is the place from which you enter it most frequently. Now, look around and use the map to think about how each area is working to support your life.

“For example, what's in the back left-hand corner, which is your Wealth & Abundance area? After you've ascertained that it's not filled with debris or things you don't want or love, think about what you could add to enhance this important zone: good lighting, strong vertical plantings, and red, purple or gold flowers, for instance.”

This area used to be the dumping ground of the garden. To fix it, we laid out a round patio of scavenged marble and flagstone, and lined it with golden flowers—daffodils, tulips, squash. The entry way has “sentinal” flowers in red and purple: columbine, glads, eggplants, and nasturtium.

Here’s Ann again: “How about the Relationship area, in the back right-hand corner? Enhance this section with romantic flowers in shades of red or pink, and with plantings that "pair up" nicely.” In our garden, this is vegetables. Since I always plant for beneficial pairings, this worked out nicely—tomatoes with parsley and carrots, broccoli with radishes, beans with squash and corn.

Here’s Ann on water features: “Looking at the Bagua map, the best locations for a pond or fountain are the Life Journey, Family/New Beginnings, and Wealth/Prosperity areas. These areas are all associated with Water or with the Wood element, which is nourished by Water in the cycle of the Five Elements (here is more information about the Five Elements).

Luckily, our pond could really only be put in the Life Journeys bagua. Plus, because it’s near the entry path the first thing you experience when walking into the garden is the sound of flowing water. Very auspicious.

My small yard (23x60) has 10 distinct beds, separated by grass, brick, glass block or mulch paths. Ann: “Finally, consider the "path of Chi" as you lay out your garden. A graceful, sinuous path encourages Chi energy - and people! -- to slow down, explore and enjoy your garden. And welcoming Chi energy into your garden with an open, inviting pathway will bring you its positive benefits, over and over again."

I think I got it right, because even dogs that come into my garden follow the paths.

Here are some more portraits from my garden, and some panoramas to trace the progress of the design.

Thank you to Ann Bingley Gallops for her permission to reprint extensively from her blog, newsletter, and site, Open Spaces Feng Shui

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