Call us: 612-823-5093

Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Chinese Gardens

by Carole Hyder

Chinese gardens were always arranged in accordance with a set of Feng Shui or geomantic principles. A geomancy master would be engaged to find a location and to determine directional placement of the garden or the buildings within the garden that would take advantage of the beneficial flow of qi, the enlivening energy of the cosmos.

Unlike Western gardens which are typically formed around a house or structure, Chinese gardens are planned first determining where structures would eventually be placed.

Although there was no standard process for creating a garden, the evolution of a traditional Chinese garden is often based on the southern courtyard of Zhan Yuan, an early Ming dynasty garden in Nanjing:

  1. After a site was selected, the first decision was to establish the location and direction of the main hall. Ideally, the hall was to be in the northern section of the garden.
  2. High walls were positioned along the perimeter of the garden in order to enclose it.
  3. Spaces within the garden were subdivided to multiply the variety of scenery within it, creating a sense of boundlessness within a limited site.
  4. A body of water, usually a pond, was excavated and linked to channels of water. A pond was an indispensable element since it contrasted with the rockery and provided a mirrored image of scenic objects.
  5. Latticed windows were used to lure the visitor into the garden. A moon gate and other geometric openings were often used to frame scenes within the garden and to create the illusion of depth. No cul-de-sac or dead ends were permitted in any garden space, so pathways always seemed to continue in forward motion. The visitor was never allowed to see the panoramic whole of the Chinese garden at the outset since it was carefully designed in a sequence of the hidden and revealed scenes that would emerge along paths and at observation points.

In the West gardens are grown, but in China a garden is built. The many buildings in Chinese gardens are a reminder that gardens were meant to be lived in as well as viewed. The Chinese garden is a good example of the Taoist principle of harmony with nature and creative imagination.


*This article contains excerpts from Carole’s Masters of Asian Studies thesis

Booked on Feng Shui: Your Books Speak Volumes

by Carole Hyder

Most everyone I know owns books.  Some people have skads of them—so many, in fact, that they’re stored in boxes in the basement.  Others wouldn’t think of keeping them in boxes—so they’re stacked in various corners waiting for the right place to call home.

book-stack-books-education-51342Setting up a library or reading area is always a good plan for someone who owns a lot of books.  The extra bedroom could become a quiet reading spot.  An unused dining room may convert beautifully to a library, complete with floor-to-ceiling shelves and a rolling ladder to access the most remote volume.

Because books represent the opinions and stories of others, they do need Feng Shui consideration for proper integration. Here are some ideas of where books can be appropriately placed and where to avoid putting them.

  1. Books should be maintained in an upright and/or horizontal position.  Since books come in different sizes and colors, they can easily turn into a haphazard display.  I’ve taken to storing the books I have in my office according to color—–it works for me! I’ve seen books arranged according to size, which definitely adds an element of intentional placement to a large bookcase.
  2. Never store books in your bedroom nor under your bed.  Books represent the voice/opinion of the author and therefore bring with them a lot of “noise” and vibration.  Other than the book or two you may be reading at night, store the rest of them elsewhere.
  3. Having a nice arrangement of books near the front door sends a positive message to those who come to visit that you are studious, well-read and intellectual.
  4. Arrange your bookshelves with an artful eye by adding photos, plants, sculpture or mementos.  It will break up the intensity ofthe books and add some eye candy.
  5. When all else fails, use shelves with doors so that the doors can be closed on all the book clutter. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem of too many books or scattered energy, but it does lessen the problem.

Books are our friends, so you want to treat them respectfully and with care.  Sometimes we just need to let them go. Libraries are always looking for used books, as well as used book stores. If it’s no longer being read or appreciated, it may be time to turn the page on your books and bring them to a happy ending.

Welcoming the Year of the Dog

by Carole Hyder

Now that our January New Years commitments and resolutions are put into place, we have the opportunity to review, revise, and re-commit to them by observing the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Dog begins on February 4—-or February 16 if you want to observe the lunar celebration.

Each year the Chinese calendar assigns one of twelve animals to oversee the upcoming events. The Dog is our token animal in 2018.

I think we can all agree that Dogs are friendly, helpful, tail-wagging happy, trainable, forgiving, and loving. For a Dog, everything is new every single day. They love to go places, they love to stay home, they love to eat, they love treats, they pretty much love life. And we all know Dogs are our best friends.

Except when they move into fear. Or when they are trapped into a corner. Or when they have been abused. Then the Dog shows its other side and suddenly our friendly Fido becomes a fierce fiend. Life isn’t so happy anymore for the Dog. It’s possible we will see both sides of the canine this year—the happy one and the ferocious one.

However, the Dog is paired with the element of Earth this year which adds nurturance and protection to the party and could help balance out potential drama. The issue with Earth is it could also slow things down—-which means we may feel like we’re in a rut or we may feel buried (to use Earth metaphors).

Despite these predictions, it will be up to us to figure out how to become the eager and happy version. What the Dog year brings is only the potential external stuff—–we can create our own experience and begin again with a new perspective for 2018.

If you want more specifics about the Year of the Dog, check out the free webinar Lisa Janusz and I did on this very topic.


Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 751-3828