Sunday, 19 August 2018

Feng shui my garden

I am going back to my roots. Now all this running round in circles and zig zags has a method to it, you know, its not madness and it's not that I don't know what I'm doing. It's just I don't live on a farm,  where the plants are in neat rows and you just go from A to B in a systematic fashion like a typewriter. Remember those? You reached the end of the row of type and then pushed back the lever so you could type another row, and the paper moved up. And if you made a mistake you reached for the twink and had to wait until it dried before you typed over it. Well gardening isn't like that. Gardening is three dimensional and is never in straight lines,  not the gardens I'm creating.

 I'm creating a Chinese Kiwi garden and it has to be feng shuied. Feng shui doesn't mean you put in plastic pipe irrigation and set the timer and smooth over everything with a rake after you've rotary hoed and bulldozed everything into submission. Feng shui, meaning wind (feng) and water (shui) is a Chinese design philosophy of placement whether it be plants or furniture or houses, that sets out to be in harmony with nature, the soil beneath your feet whether it be a hill or valley, and the water around you. In Permaculture they make it out to be scientific, and measure sun rise and sun set and contour lines and prevailing winds. Zones are demarcated from the core living area, and as you go further out the zones become more wild. It's all very practical. They talk about swales and keylines and north facing slopes and valuing the marginal.

Feng shui however, is a bit more mystical than that. At times, you may have to appease the dragon otherwise bad luck will follow you. What...dragon? Yes, or, as the Maori call it, the taniwha. The dragons you see, are not happy you decide to live on their territory. If you not careful and decide to destroy their habitat, they can make life very tough for you. Also, qi, which the chinese believe is the very essence of life, needs to be channelled correctly. This means don't create a wind tunnel but endeavour to balance the elements so that the qi can flow gently around you. The shape of the land and the general feeling of peace when you are in a tranquil setting, can be attributed to harmonising the qi. There are five elements that need to be in harmony, as well as ying and yang. Fire, water, earth, wind, wood. If all this sounds a bit 'woo woo' to you, perhaps consider this. When people carve out a huge dam and divert water into straight side ditches or place a concrete six story apartment block into a hillside they are destroying complex soil ecosystems and disrupting burial grounds.

Geomancy, superstition or pseudoscience? Perhaps it's a bit of all three, but I will know when I'm at peace in my garden. So I arrange my plants to not only please the eye but to consider the flow of wind and water on the land, which in Auckland is very specific to the microclimates around this isthmus. See, God didn't make this land flat and featureless like Australia, which is half desert. In Paradise, there are trees and there are rivers. This is Godzone where all we are required to do is dress and keep it, He had already divided the land and given us the plants. When we go about destroying His creation, we upset the balance. Because life began in the garden. So all I am doing is restoring the garden back to His original design, a place where you can walk in the cool of the day. And with plants its all about location, location location, which is pretty much feng shui in a nutshell.