Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
December, 2008
Regional Report

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Lucky bamboo is the start to my indoor feng shui, tied to the outdoor garden by the window

Feng Shui in the Garden

I've been hearing so much in the past few years about the concepts of feng shui, that I thought I'd do a little investigating of my own. This was prompted by a good friend giving me a "lucky bamboo" plant which is one of the elements often listed for good feng shui in a house or garden.

What is Feng Shui?
First of all, what exactly does this strange term mean? It is an art (and some say science) that was developed 3,000 years ago in China. The principles enable one to balance the energies of an existing space in order to assure health and fortune for the people who inhabit that space. Feng shui is based on the Taoist understanding of nature, and the belief that the natural world is filled with positive energy called chi. Feng means "wind" and shui means "water" (pronounced fung-shway).

So, the basic goal for a garden or home is to raise the level of chi and make certain that elements in the garden or home are arranged to allow the chi to move smoothly and freely throughout the space. To be effective, you rearrange plants and garden elements so chi doesn't get trapped or stagnate. However, you don't want the chi to move through the space too quickly or it can cause agitation instead of relaxation. Make sense?

How To Use Feng Shui in the Garden
So, make your pathways long sweeping curves in order to allow the chi to move easily but slowly through the garden. Appeal to other senses by adding sound with wind chimes and scented flowers. Water elements encourage more chi (they do make us feel better), and garden lights in dark areas create an entirely different type of energy. Wood, terra cotta, and stone ornaments bring natural energy to the garden.

Feng Shui Elements
Feng shui has a very specific connection with colors and elements of the earth, and you can use these in your garden to create different types of energy. Warm colors like reds and yellows bring animation and vitality; blues and purples bring relaxation and quiet. Whites and silvers tie us to the garden.

The five elements that make up everything in the world are earth, metal, water, wood, and fire. In the feng shui garden, these are all present and balanced and working together to create a harmonious, welcoming space. The feng shui garden should have plenty of places to linger and enjoy the garden, as well as different sizes, shapes and colors of plants to balance.

And if you aren't convinced on the whole idea of feng shui, the simple idea of reducing the clutter can make you happier and calmer. Paying close attention to harmony and balance in the garden will certainly make your garden a more pleasant place to be.

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