With the change in the seasons and the whole social isolation thing, we’ve been working in the garden. Weeding, mulching, pruning.
And having done a bunch of Feng Shui research for a fiction project, I’ve discovered the possibility of a Feng Shui garden.
It’s one of those forehead slapping “of course” moments. If you can do it for your home, naturally you can do it for the land (or balcony) that surrounds your home.
And given the importance of slowing the qi down and drawing it into your home, getting the garden done takes on a whole new importance.
If you want to skip researching and pulling it all together, the details are nicely laid out in a chapter of Katina Jones’ book The Little Book of Feng Shui.
First Feng Shui Things First
Jones follows the Black Hat Buddhist philosophy which works with the Bagua and your intuition rather than calculations based on the Luopan compass.
The Bagua is a kind of map showing you where the major energy centres relating to certain aspects of your life are. You place it over the main entrance to your property/home/room lining the career section up with the front wall.
The Energy Centres
Very simplified version follows:
- Career: How you serve; demonstrating by how you work (Element water, colour black).
- Helpful People/Travel: Your mentors, and chance opportunities (heaven, silver/grey).
- Creativity/Children: Personal growth (metal, white).
- Relationships/Marriage/Love: Your important relationships; not just romantic or friendship, but business too (earth, pink).
- Fame: The way others see you, your reputation (fire, red).
- Abundance/Wealth: Not just material, but intangibles too (wind, purple).
- Family: Not just immediate family, but ancestors, friends, some business associates and close community too (wood, green).
- Knowledge: Self-knowledge, spirituality and the ability to grow (mountain, blue).
- Health: The heart of your home, and the wellness of all living creatures who dwell within it (earth, yellow).
The Five Elements
Like many other ancient philosophies, Feng Shui works with elements. Bringing the elements into spaces that otherwise lack them works to raise or lower the energy of the space. The five elements are:
- Fire: represents emotions, corresponds to reds and pinks, triangle shape, yang (male/strong/assertive), season Summer.
- Earth: physical, oranges and yellows, square, seasonal transitions.
- Metal: mental, greys, pastels and white (or gold/silver), round, Autumn.
- Water: spirituality, black, wavy, yin (feminine/receptive/passive), Winter.
- Wood: intuition, greens, upright rectangles/columns, Spring.
The elements work in creative and destructive cycles – useful for amping up or winding down out of control energies:
- Creative: Fire creates earth, which creates metal, which holds water, which creates wood, which feeds fire.
- Destructive: Fire melts metal, which cuts wood, which moves earth, which muddies water, which puts out fire.
But overall, the goal is to use the elements to balance the five senses and provide something pleasant to look at, listen to, touch, taste and smell.
Changing the Energy
Changing the energy is partly changing how you feel about the property and partly changing how others perceive it.
The quickest and easiest way to do that, is to clean and declutter. Clear paths and corridors to allow free and open movement. Open up the space to let in light and fresh air.
And when you’ve done that, decide the space’s purpose, and choose to maintain it in a way that will support the purpose. For a garden example, keeping a clear space for your washing line so your clothes will dry in herb scented sunlight.
You can set an intention by holding a small consecration style ceremony. And then start working on the places that feel blocked by bringing in cures to stimulate or calm qi:
- Light from lamps or reflections
- Sound; harmonious tones such as bells or chines
- Colour that increases or decreases the movement of qi
- Life plants or animals
- Movement such as flags or fountains
- Stillness through statues or large rocks
- Mechanical/electrical items that will churn the energy – something that acts like a crank handle
- Straight lines such as sticks or fans
The Feng Shui Garden
Just as in a room, the goal is to remove the unnecessary energy blockages and restore a peaceful balance.
This does mean a declutter and tidy up, and an ongoing maintenance programme to keep everything ticking along tickety boo.
Feng Shui in the garden is connected to the broader protective elements of the landscape. For example, life-giving water in the front of the house.
And the symbolically supportive, protective celestial animals that bring abundance to your home:
- White Tiger hills in the west
- Green Dragon hills in the east
- Crimson Phoenix slight hill in the south
- Black Turtle hill in the north
The wider landscape is slightly problematic, because it’s unlikely you’ll be surrounded by hills or rivers, so you’ll need to bring in structural elements to represent them.
Just as you can have missing areas in the house, you can have them in the garden, and may need to apply fixes to strengthen the missing areas, or trick the eye into believing they’re there.
Balancing the Garden
This comes back to balancing the active/passive components, even if that’s in miniature. Flat and bumpy, still and moving, rock and water, living and non-living, flowers and foliage.
You’ll also need to ensure the five elements are present. Probably not literally a fire in the garden at all times, but represented in the colours and shapes of the plants and decorative items you add.
And these items will also balance the energies so that you might add something Fire to amp up the energy in one of your energy centres, or something Earth to slow it down (e.g., your career, health or relationships).
And in the context of the garden, the most common way you’ll add those elements is through planting coloured flowers in the areas you want to stimulate.
But you can add structures too. They could be sheds or pergolas, or works or art at a scale that fits comfortably in the space.
Plant according to the way the light moves through your garden, choosing full-sun, semi-shade (etc.) according to what will thrive in those conditions. Consider the colours and sounds the plants will bring.
Think about plants and water sources to draw living creatures into your garden, as well as the kind of materials they might prefer for nesting.
And use straight lines to contain rampant growth, as well as to support climbing and weeping plants.
Don’t forget to take the needs of your children and pets into account as well. Think about how you can all enjoy the space no matter the time of year.
In The End
Like other aspects of Feng Shui, the garden is a part of your space that should help you achieve your goals and live the best life possible.
And the way I see it, relaxing on a mowed lawn within a tidy garden, is a lot like resting in a clean room with a nicely vacuumed floor.
So take a look at your garden, and ask yourself if there is anything you can take from Feng Shui principles to make yours a more comfortable place.
And if there is, do some research, then do something about it!