Feng Shui For The Garden - Eva Perry talks to Lillian Too about Feng Shui for Gardens.

Premium Magazine , 1999

"Garden feng shui is in many respects the most important part of feng shui practice," says expert Lillian Too, "for it is here that the quality of the energy that surrounds our living space is determined. If you can ensure that the feng shui that surrounds the exterior of your home is good, then the auspicious energies that are created will far surpass anything else you may do inside the home."

A regular contributor to magazines and newspapers, and the author of no less than 18 books on the subject, Lillian Too is an internationally acknowledged expert. Her book, Feng Shui for Gardens, is a treasury of information packed with practical techniques.

She explains how to look at the area surrounding your home, and take note of anything which will affect the energies entering the garden. Hills and areas of water are important, so too are trees and buildings.

The forces of yin and yang are most important in the practice of feng shui and it is essential to create a balance between the two. Yang energy is light and active whereas yin is dark and passive. Plants have an intrinsic yang energy and it is important to make sure there is some yin energy present in the garden. Quiet shady corners will balance bright sunny flower beds and taller shrubs and trees should be mixed with low lying shrubs to maintain harmony.

The entrance to your home is most important. If you have a path leading to the front door, it should be curved rather than straight. Flower beds should also be curved. Keep your front door clean and sparkling and grow an evergreen plant in a round container on each side of the entrance. Lighting the entrance at night will attract more energy into your home.

Just as different areas of the home or office relate to different aspects of your life, so too do the different areas of the garden. Before you rush out to dig a pond or erect a statue, it is vital to establish which areas need help. Draw a plan of the garden and place the magic square* or bagua, over it so that the knowledge/ career/ benefactor side is to the north.

Lillian describes the feng shui attributes of many different plant varieties. The jade plant (crassula ovata), for example, is well known to practitioners of feng shui and Lillian recommends growing one in a large decorative container near the front door, either inside or out. Let it grow no taller than three feet and be careful not to overwater it. If is begins to look sick, replace it at once.

Good feng shui flowers include the peony, highly prized by the Chinese who regard it as the king of flowers, symbolic of love and affection. Chrysanthemums signify great happiness and joy (bright yellow ones are best) and narcissi in flower symbolise great food fortune.

Ornamental statues are always popular in gardens, and Lillian explains how best to place them. Chinese symbols of longevity and good health such as the fish, the three-legged frog, the turtle, the crane and the deer are all considered good feng shui, particularly if placed in the west or north west corners of the garden.

Fu dogs are often seen outside Chinese homes and temples, one on each side of the entrance as protectors. Elephants, tigers, eagles or any other fiercely protective animals would do as well, but be sure to place them facing outwards - if they are looking inwards their aggressive energies will turn against the residents and cause them harm.

Although feng shui may not have been known to earlier western gardeners, Lillian points out that many formal gardens of the west are perfect examples of balance and harmony. Peter The Great's Summer Palace and the Palace of Versailles in France both have excellent feng shui. Buckingham Palace in London, on the other hand, is unbalanced - there is too much stone at the front and nothing to bring living energy into the area. Lillian suggests that the feng shui could be greatly improved by introducing small hedges and perhaps a water fountain.

"You can be as creative as you wish," says Lillian, "and you can change your garden arrangement or choice of plants as often as you wish - I do."

"Feng Shui will bring you opportunities for a healthier, more prosperous and happier life, but you must reach out and work at transforming these opportunities into tangible manifestations of good fortune." Only then will you experience the full benefits of having good feng shui.

Here are some of Lillian's suggestions :

North (career) - A water feature brings excellent feng shui, but make sure the water is not allowed to become stagnant. Balance is important, so be careful not to dig a huge swimming pool which will overwhelm the house - a fishpond, fountain or birdbath is usually sufficient !
Northeast (knowledge) - Brick walls and paved surfaces are suitable here. A good place for a rock garden. This area represents young sons in the family and a play area would ideally be sited here.
East (ancestors) - According to the principles of feng shui, the east is the abode of the green dragon. A hedge or border of green plants is most auspicious. This location is also associated with the oldest son of the family, considered the most precious because he represents the head of the next generation.
Southeast (wealth) - An abundance of plants should be grown in this area. This is the 'wealth' corner, and water features placed here can often bring exceptionally good luck to the household. Make sure the water feature can be seen from the house.
South (fame) - Brightly coloured flowers, particularly red, will attract energy. Not a good place for a water feature, because water clashes with the element of fire associated with this area. Make sure the flowers are flourishing and replace them if they show signs of sickness.
South west (relationship) - This area represents mother earth. Energising this corner with lights is helpful. A Japanese-style garden with stone lights, pebbles and stepping stones would be perfect feng shui.
West (children) - West is the abode of the feng shui tiger, so plants should be kept low. This is the area designated for the youngest daughter and white flowers are especially suitable.
Northwest (benefactors) - This area represents the head of the household and it is particularly important that this area has good feng shui or the whole family will be adversely affected. There is a lot of yang energy here and the best strategy is to keep this part of the garden plain. Stones and pebbles are also suitable here.
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