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How Does Their Garden Grow? Principles of Traditional Chinese Gardens

Painting 3By Carole Hyder

Chinese gardens are a big draw for people traveling to the Middle Kingdom. Many of the Chinese tours that my husband and I led over the years often focused on gardens in southern China. Walking through these gardens where every item was intentionally positioned is a very tactile Feng Shui experience.

Each garden was planned to be a microcosm of a natural setting: rocks represented mountains, plants represented trees, a stream stood for the river. No vegetables or flowers were used in these gardens since the gardeners did not want to be perceived as peddlers, selling what they grew. Instead they nurtured their gardens and then painted them as though they were real-life settings. Many gardeners actually became famous as painters, when their real passion was gardening.

Rocks around pond

Perhaps the biggest difference between the gardens we construct today and traditional Chinese gardens is that theirs were laid out before any buildings were planned. After the garden was designed, the houses, pavilions, guest houses were placed accordingly. Unlike our process where we fit the garden around our homes, the Chinese built their gardens, dedicating only about 30% to buildings. People, in effect, lived in their gardens.

Here are some specific features a Chinese garden would include:

Water – which revives the spirit, washes away evil, and reflects without distortion, needed to move AND it needed to be reflective. Fountains were not used since a fountain would force water to behave in ways it wouldn’t normally.

Rocks – represented mountains which, in Chinese culture, had supernatural powers. The more interesting the rock, the better. It could stimulate the imagination and provoke meditative moments.

In-Motion Viewing – necessitates a path to provide a self-directed way to see the garden.

In-Position Viewing – offers a place to sit and ponder the garden.

A Secret – provides something unexpected—-a gazebo hidden in the corner, a tea house tucked behind a tree—and keeps interest alive while visiting the garden.

Reflecting water

Although man-made, the Chinese gardens have become legendary. They beautifully exemplify the Taoist belief that the relationship between man and nature is the most important. We can all learn about our own relationship to nature from the intentional, aesthetically thoughtful, and powerful Chinese gardens—-whether we have our own garden or not.

How Feng Shui May Help You Sell Your Home

By Carole Hyder

home exteriorRealtors often use the term “curb appeal” when getting a home ready to sell. It means that the home should look attractive from the minute someone gets out of their car. The reason is that a good first impression can positively impact the rest of their experience with the home.

Yet from a Feng Shui standpoint, we want a home to have curb appeal all the time. It shouldn’t just be cleaned up for a quick sale but should have the following aspects in place at all times:

  1. The front door is visibly obvious. If a potential buyer (or visitor) has to assume where the door is located because they can’t actually see it, there is a potential for confusion that permeates throughout the rest of the property. If the door is tucked behind a garage or in an out-of-sight corner, place “signposts” that guide the visitor—-flowers, a bench, or windchime.
  2. The front door should stand out from the rest of the space. This isn’t just about being visible, but about being outstandingly so. A colored door, a wreath, or a flag are a few ways to make the front door the central focus.
  3. The walkway to front the door is inviting. The path to the door should be enticing and an experience all by itself—-no cracked pavement or pieces of sidewalk that could trip someone up. But an enjoyable jaunt leading to the entrance.
  4. All plants and flowers are thriving, especially those that are around the front door and the path leading to the door. If they’re not thriving, remove them.
  5. For those who ARE selling their home, place the “For Sale” sign in the Helpful People area of the lot (front right corner as you face the home). This area can elevate the possibilities of a helpful person coming along to buy the home. Put the sign here only if it makes sense and is visible from the street.

Obviously curb appeal is just the beginning of the sale. The same amount of care and consideration should occur once the potential buyer (or visitor) gets inside. Otherwise, the message is an inconsistent one which will leave the guest wondering why something doesn’t feel quite right.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Elements of a Feng Shui Garden

FS Garden 2 By Carole Hyder

Whether gardening in a large space or a small patio, there are some elements to consider if you want to be able to call it a Feng Shui garden. Size does not matter, but intention and layout does.

Before starting, it is important you determine the overall intention or theme you want to express.

FS Garden 5

  • Do you want to use the garden for quiet-time?
  • Do you want to amble through your flowers to get inspired?
  • Is it your intention to create a space where friends and family can gather?
  • Do you want the area to be kid-friendly?

FS Garden 3

Even if your gardening efforts are confined to a very small spot on the deck, think about what you want to create. Fairy gardens are intended to be small but that doesn’t make them less engaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some additional elements to consider when you’re designing your garden—-large or small:

FS Garden 61) Water. In line with the concept of wind and water, having water in a garden is a natural. If a pond doesn’t seem like the right fit or feels like it would be too much work, a fountain could be integrated into your garden. A bird-bath is also an option. Japanese gardens use rocks to give the illusion of water.

2) Place to sit. This doesn’t have to be complicated—-a rock or tree stump, a bench or hammock would work. You want a place from which you can absorb the energy of the garden.

FS Garden 13) Curvy Path. Your Feng Shui garden should provide an effortless direction of where to go—–a path of flagstones, chips, or round pavers or a foot-worn path where others have walked before. Making it curvy implies a slower pace where ambling and lingering are appropriate. If you garden is small, create a path that the eye will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

FS Garden 44) Ornamentals. The way to personalize and create a unique garden is with your ornamentals. Although this can easily move into the arena of clutter, a few carefully positioned objects around the garden will offer variety and interest.

These photos are all from our garden. Its exquisite beauty and strength come solely from the labor of my master gardener husband. It goes without saying that sitting in this garden has provided us hours of enjoyment and healing, which were the original intentions with which he guided this project.

How Does Your Garden Flow? Feng Shui Tips to Create an Intentional Garden

Whether gardening in a large space or a small patio, there are some elements to consider if you want to be able to call it a Feng Shui garden. Size does not matter, but intention and layout does. The first consideration in a Feng Shui garden is to determine the overall feeling or theme you want to express. Do you want to use the garden for quiet-time or to be inspired? Is it your intention to create an outdoor space where friends and family can gather? Even if your gardening efforts are confined to a very small spot on the deck, think about what you want to create. Fairy gardens are intended to be small but that doesn’t make them less engaging.

Here are some additional elements to consider whether you’re designing a large back-yard or a small pot.

  1. Caroles Garden Dry BedWater. In line with the concept of “wind and water,” having water in a garden is a natural.  If a pond doesn’t seem like the right fit or feels like it would be too much work, a fountain could be integrated into your garden or a bird-bath. If having water is out ofCaroles Garden Rocker the question, then a dry bed may be the right answer.
  2. Place to sit. The point of having a place to sit is so you can absorb the energy of the garden, relish the view and assess the next leg of the journey. A rock or tree stump could provide this element or a bench or hammock would also work.
  3. Curvy Path. In your Feng Shui garden you should provide an effortless and enticing indication of where to go.  A path of flagstones, chips, or round pavers will work as will a foot-worn path. Making it curvy implies a slower pace where ambling and lingering are appropriate. If your garden is small, you can still create a path that the eye will follow.

These photoCaroles Garden Clematiss are all from our garden. Its exquisite beauty and strength come solely from the labor of my husband Tom who is a master gardener. His efforts have paid off since he was selected to be part of the Hennepin Co. Master Gardener Tour on July 13.  If you want to come see his masterwork and the work of others, register here.

CH-15-twitterBy Carole Hyder

Wind & Water School of Feng Shui Founder, Faculty and International Feng Shui Expert

Address

901 W. Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis MN 55419
Phone: (612) 823-5093
Website: https://windwaterschool.com
E-mail: info@windwaterschool.com