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Feng Shui in my Garden

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 22 February 2002

The lay of the land influences our deep minds: we feel different at the seashore, in lake country, on a mountaintop.... When we build, we influence this; city planners, architects, and interior designers all keep in mind the psychological effects of how we shape our physical space. As science investigates the mind-body connection, we realize that our space also affects us physically. The Chinese, who have been studying this influence for a long time, call it "Feng Shui," pronounced "fung-shway."

The study of Feng Shui can get pretty involved, with elaborate rules and concepts from a culture very different from ours. But I think you can use the basic concepts without all that: how does the energy flow in the space you are designing? How does that flow make you feel?

When I started landscaping our front yard, there was no walk from the street to the house, just a dirt path — in March and April, mud. How did the energy flow? With difficulty. I wanted a path with ease and graciousness. I found some big flat stones that had been in creek beds, so they were rounded with the shapes that water makes, and built a nice wide path, that would feel spacious, with plenty of room. I made it in a gentle S-curve, so the energy wouldn't move too fast, but feel relaxed.

The footprint of our house is an L-shape. The Chinese say that the missing corner, where the house does not fill in a whole rectangle, leaves a whole quality of life out of the energy pattern of the house: classical Feng Shui attributes qualities like health, wealth, and love to specific areas in a space. I don't know about that, but it did seem to me that the house was looking out of that empty angle, facing toward the empty corner, pouring energy down a slope and out of the yard. I built a garden bed in a curve facing the corner, to embrace that energy, and circulate it back.

In the back yard, the entrance from the lawn to the main garden is through the arch of a rose arbor. The path zooms away straight for a ways after that, but the eye — and the heart! — pauses at that dramatic arch. Standing under it, even when the roses aren't blooming, the energy is noticeable to everyone. It feels pregnant with a sense of transition to a special world.

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For more infomation: there's lots on Feng Shui on the Web, for example the World of Feng Shui Online.

© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark