The very concepts of gardens and garden areas in Feng Shui belie the very different fundamental perceptions of these green areas of peace and tranquility between Chinese based philosophies and that of the “Western /American / British / European ” ways and mores.
It can be said that the very dissolution of the historic Ming dynasties was a result of Emperor’s greatest obsession being the gathering and transporting of large quantities of huge rocks and even boulders from isolated and remote provinces directly for the building of stately gardens in the Emperor’s many castles. Yet so much effort, resources, costs and labor that ultimately the dynasty was in essence “bankrupted”.
Gardens and especially Chinese gardens have a most special place in the art and some say science of Feng Shui and parishioners of Feng Shui. In essence Feng Shui parishioners work towards a creation of a mirror image harmony – harmony being the ideal state of perfection between mankind, mother earth all integrated and helped along by the great powers of nature and the creator. This all comes together out of the Confucian concepts of art being essentially creations of mankind – yet laid out on the basic groundwork, powers and designs of nature. The natural world after all has the greatest of powers of superiority. Look at a starry sky and ask yourself – after all who created this? Thus the Feng Shui practitioner can reason that man may create art but after all it is nature that really holds the cards and the power after all.
It is for this very reason, that gardens in Chinese culture and home design and of course the extension of Chinese philosophies of interior design and designs – Feng Shui, that garden areas are not considered a separate and exclusive area of the home and abode but rather the garden are part and parcel of the home and living areas themselves. Gardens are part of the home, not a separate part added or tacked onto the home. Often for example in western homes – garden areas are considered a separate part – an add on so to speak.
In this manner, in China, the home and its garden area are one unit – not two. The garden area and areas are drawn into the home itself through the use and usages of latticed panels and windows. Walls and vertical wall areas can serve as backdrops to plants – that is ether flowers, bushes or trees chosen for their intrinsic beauty and intrinsic natural powers. Chinese gardens are not only there for looks and beauty but also to be of everyday use to their human inhabitants, their guests and friends and their day to day activities. Hence buildings in Chinese gardens are seen as a major feature both as viewing platforms for the beauty and serenity presented as well as centers to host events and activities.
One can attempt to employ Feng Shui to better lay out your home or abode either for beauty itself or to disseminate or focus productive harmony or positive powers for good purpose, and with good intentions. When it comes to planning and implementing construction and layout garden areas the people and personalities involved must have a basic understanding and comprehension of Chinese concepts and philosophies as they pertain to garden areas and the layout of these gardens. Otherwise final results will not be maximal both in terms of aesthetics, a full cultural appreciation and lastly the powers and benefits as outlined in the arts, discipline and practice of Feng Shui.