“The Ancient Art of Placement" called Feng Shui (pronounced phung schway) literally means ‘wind’ and ‘water. ’ The Chinese believe this cosmic energy, called Chi or ‘the green dragon’s cosmic breath, ’ is the life force energy that pervades human existence. The basic tenet of Feng Shui is to capture this vital energy creating balance and harmony in our environments. Feng Shui is predicated on the core belief that we, the earth, and every living thing on it are interconnected.
Feng Shui is the oldest form of gardening dating back several millennia to China. It is based on the philosophy that man and nature must live in harmony with one another and that all life is infused with the invisible energy called Chi. This force circulates throughout our environment and is essential to our well-being, health, and happiness. The Chinese sages believed that any man-made feature could affect the flow of Chi so established the rules of placement that are central to this philosophy.
In the Feng Shui garden, balance and harmony are the key factors. Balance and harmony are achieved by careful attention to detail and the balance of Yin and Yang energy. Yin energy includes the earth, rocks, ponds, plants, flowers, and trees. Yang energy includes the home, brick, wood, nails, and other solid construction. The fundamental characteristics of Feng Shui gardening are:
The Chi, or cosmic energy, needs to flow freely and smoothly through its surroundings in order to create harmony and balance in the garden. Yin and Yang together constitute the two forms of energy central to the concept of Feng Shui principles and define the quality of the energies in any space.
Yin energy constitutes the feminine energy and its elements are shadows, darkness, winter, night-time, wet, soft, receptive, passive, negative, inner, north, creation, earth, and is symbolized by the moon. Yang energy constitutes the masculine energy and its elements are light, openness, vigour, growth, summer, daytime, spirit, dry, hard, active, positive, sky, heaven, south, outer, energetic, and is symbolized by the sun. Yin and Yang energies are complementary to each other.
The Feng Shui of your house influences your life from a personal point of view. The Feng Shui of your garden influences the outer aspect of your house and influences the more public view of your life. The front garden is more Yang while the back garden is more Yin and the private side of your life. The best way to examine the Feng Shui of your garden is to treat your entire property as a single unit.
Plants that exhibit Yang energy include large-leafed plants that create a powerful presence and create good Feng Shui when placed beside water features such as a pond or fountain. These plants contrast nicely with feathery foliage plants such as ferns. Plants that exhibit Yin energy include ferns that help to dissolve any negative energy in the garden. Hanging plants will lift energy or allow energy to flow. It is a good idea to hang baskets around areas where you like to socialize. Window boxes encourage beneficial Chi toward the home.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B. S. W. , M. G. , H. T. , is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace – Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul and the booklet Non-toxic Alternatives For Everyday Cleaning And Gardening Products. She owns the website Gwen’s Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the books and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca
Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 – 2005. All rights reserved.