Last summer about this time, I had a television crew on my property for one whole day — lighting people, cameramen, producer, make-up even. “Rebecca’s Garden,” a weekly syndicated half-hour television program, wanted to film a five-minute segment on a Feng Shui garden. I knew we had used Feng Shui principles in our yard, but I didn’t know if it was “professional” enough to warrant television coverage. Rebecca’s producer previewed our yard and declared, “I love it.”
It was only a couple years prior to this that my husband had discovered a latent talent for gardening. In the last 15 to 20 years, our yard had been left to its own devices. A lot of odd plants and a vast assortment of shrub-like things had found a home for themselves during that time. The first four years we lived in our house, we were daunted by the thought of landscaping.
Then one spring, with a chain-saw in one hand and a shovel in the other, my husband said: “I’m going in.” That summer he hauled five trailer loads of unidentified growing objects to the dump, found several ley lines on the property, listened to the land, built a simple deck, put up a fence and listened some more. A plan started to emerge, along with his gardening skills. We superimposed the bagua over the back-yard. The pink flowers went where the pink flowers should go (Partnership). The yellow flowers went in the center for Health. Like magic, the back garden began to take shape.
To qualify as a “Feng Shui garden,” there are nine elements that should be present. Over the next two summers, with the help of my expert “supervision,” my husband created a such a garden:
- Establish a theme. In other words, determine your intention for the garden. In our case, we wanted a private meditation space. Others might want an entertainment garden, or a backyard for children. It’s important to know how you’ll use the area.
- An entrance. You want to experience where the garden begins, whether it’s with a gate, an arbor or potted plants on either side of an entrance. After the first gardening summer, our simple deck became more elaborate with rails, a bench, lighting, and an arbor. It’s quite an event to enter our garden now.
- A place to sit. You want to have a place from which to assess the greatest expanse of the garden. You could do this with a bench, a rock, a swing. We hung up a hammock from which to overlook our yard.
- A curvy path through the garden. It’s important that there be some sense of where to go once you’re in the garden. The path can be made of flagstone, chips, or round pavers. A path may have been worn by the footsteps of others who have walked the land before you.
- Ornamentals. As word spread through our circle of friends about my husband’s efforts, we acquired gifts in the form of garden plaques, fairy houses, even a gorgeous gazing ball (red, no less!).
- Surprise. Having something unexpected in the garden lifts your ch’i when you come upon it. This might be a special statue of a troll or a totem animal peeking out from behind a tree, or a bird-feeder that you see only when you round a corner. It could be a small chair hidden behind some tall shrubs. One birthday, my husband presented me with our garden surprise. At the top of our hill in the back, he built me a small seating area behind a row of lilacs. If you know the way up there, you can see that he expertly positioned stepping stones to this little hide-away. I can sit there and see the entire garden without anyone knowing I’m there. Of course, one or two of our cats always find me.
- Fence. A fence is for boundaries and is symbolic of setting your limits both in the garden and in your life. We had one of those — check.
- A mountain in the back. A mountain adds protection and wards off bad luck from catching you off-guard. This mountain can be a hill, tall trees, a fence, a row of shrubs, or anything taller to create a sense of an armchair. Lucky for us, we have a nice hill in the back — check.
- Water. We decided against a fountain because of the upkeep required. Instead we installed a bird bath, a dry-rock area on one side of the garden to simulate water, and an awesome sprinkling system that spins water in circular patterns.
It wasn’t long before my husband’s artistry spilled out onto the front yard as well. By the time Rebecca Kolls and her crew arrived to photograph the garden, it was ready. Rebecca admitted to me she was surprised we didn’t have a fountain. From her experience, anyone who applied Feng Shui principles to their home always had a fountain! She assumed it would be the same for a garden. I showed her our bird bath. I showed her our dry-rock area, looking very Zen-like. We even turned on the sprinkler system. It was clear Rebecca was still expecting a fountain.
The producer called me often in the next few months checking on the right words for the script. It was scheduled to be aired in February. Two weeks before air time, the producer called again. It seems during the transportation of the finished footage to the destination studio, the delivery truck was in an accident with another vehicle. It was serious. Lives were lost. Gasoline from the truck seeped into the back. The tape was ruined and there was no duplicate.
A year has passed since the excitement in our garden. My husband continues to tweak perfection. Most of our dinners are eaten on the deck so we can soak in the beauty.
Rebecca and her crew have arranged to come back again. In fact, by the time this article is published, they will have re-shot our Feng Shui garden. Our yard is even better this year. The flowers are bigger and stronger and feel more settled. The bare spots have filled in. Each evening we assess how the flowers are doing, checking on certain ones. Sometimes an errant weed or two manages to find its way into the setting. We know that Rebecca and her team will be pleased to see the progress from last year. Particularly because the other day I came home from a meeting to discover that my husband had installed a fountain.