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Water in the Feng Shui Garden

One of the features that is almost a requirement in a Feng Shui garden is the element of water. “Shui” means water, after all, so it is appropriate to incorporate this element in some way. Water symbolizes flow and movement. It is the place from which all life arises and the place to which it returns. It symbolizes eternity since its flow is perpetual and eternal. Water represents renewal and is used in many ceremonies for that reason.

Carole’s garden was part of the Masters Gardeners tour in Hennepin County, Minnesota. It was unique because it is a Feng Shui garden. True to form, there are several expressions of water in her outdoor space.

Water expresses itself from intimate form to dramatic flair. The ocean definitely represents water in all its majesty and splendor. The sound and the crash of waves leaves no ambiguity as to what we’re dealing with. A lake takes this articulation and tones it down. We are still aware of the waves but they’re calmer and quieter. A pond even more so. By the time we get to a stream or creek, we see the gentler side of the water element where it’s easy to get mesmerized by the soft trickling sound.

In the Ming and Qing dynasties of Chinese history, gardens were typically designed to be a miniature of real life. Much like our current fairy gardens, these gardens replicated nature in a smaller version. A few small shrubs represented the forest; rocks represented mountains. Waterfalls imitated the ocean and fountains represented a lake or a river. So just as every authentic Chinese garden had rocks and shrubs, they also had water. To this day, every good Feng Shui garden has water as an integral part of its make-up.