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Feng Shui Tips – How to Create Balance Between Home and Garden

When I teach people the practical application of Feng Shui I always stress the importance of creating a balanced environment where everything works together in perfect harmony. If you have created a balanced and harmonious environment you are half way to creating one that is filled with positive Feng Shui. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot more to creating positive Feng Shui than creating balance but this should always be your starting point. And creating a balanced environment is easy if you understand the principles of yin and yang.

Yin and yang are the opposite forces that make up the universe. Yin is dark, quiet, restful, still, curved and natural whilst yang is bright, light, loud, active, angular and manmade. Yin is the time between when the sun dips it head below the horizon to when it wakens at the start of a brand new day whilst yang follows the sun as it moves through the sky between dawn and dusk. Yin is autumn and winter when plants give of their fruit before sleeping and regenerating themselves and yang is spring and summer when plants start to grow before showing their full glory. When looking at the environment in the context of your home and garden, houses being manmade structures represent yang energy. It is therefore important that gardens are kept relatively yin to bring about that sense of harmony and oneness.

To ensure your garden is predominantly yin it should be kept as natural as possible, it should be a garden which works with the environment as opposed to one which seeks to create an environment. Flowers, bushes and trees should always be kept as natural as possible and allowed to flourish without being aggressively pruned, colours should be kept predominantly muted with brightness kept to a minimum and any pathways or terraces should be kept curved and flowing. Any structures, such as raised beds, sheds or pagodas should ideally be made out of natural materials and covered with plants that are encouraged to grow over and around them. To help your home blend with the garden the sharp corners of the house should be disguised and covered with trailing plants or bushes so that the whole sense you get when you look at your home and garden is one where they look as though they belong together. The lines between where the house ends and the garden begins should be blurred and indistinct.

Sadly a lot of gardens that you see in the UK nowadays don’t seem to adhere to these principles, meaning that any Feng Shui cures or enhancements that people make have to work twice as hard to have the hoped for effects. In an attempt to create more time for ourselves we strive to create attractive gardens that are low maintenance but quite often these gardens look unnatural and take a huge amount of our personal energy to keep them looking good. Many gardens today are landscaped to include ponds, patios and pathways, there is an abundance of pots and garden ornaments and the predominant fashion seems to be for lots of shingle and concrete and large decked areas. But what they lack is greenery and balance. These gardens look like an extension of the house, attractive, modern, well cared for but ultimately artificial. With neat, sharp lines and heavy use of manmade materials such as concrete and brick gardens like the house are full of yang energy.

An environment that is predominantly yang will cause energy to move too fast in a jerky, disjointed motion. If your environment is too yang you may find yourself living life moving from one crisis to another, constantly living on the back foot and trying to find an extra hour in each day. If this describes your life, rather than immediately reaching for a Feng Shui enhancement or cure first of all assess your environment to check that your home and outside space adequately reflect the principles of yin and yang. And if your garden is full of neat lines and an abundance of concrete let nature start to take over. Creating the perfect balance between yin and yang is the first step in your journey to filling your environment with positive Feng Shui.

Home Vegetable Gardening – Growing Endive

Endive makes for a great vegetable to be planted in the early spring soon after the last frost occurs in your area. It is a great addition to a salad or garnishes for many other dishes. Here is how you can add great tasting endive to your home vegetable garden.

To make life easier for yourself and take advantage of gardening as soon as the frost season passes you by for the warmer spring months, start your endive seeds in doors. A portable small greenhouse, also known in some parts as a humidity dome, is available at your local home or garden center for less than five bucks. This will help speed up the germination process. If you do start your seeds in pots, make sure you give your endive eight weeks before moving them outdoors and do not plant the seed any deeper than 1/4″.

While your seeds are germinating indoors get the soil prepared outdoors. Make sure the pH level of the area of your soil where the endive is going sits in the 5.5 to 7.0 range. You can get a soil pH tester at your local home or garden center fairly cheaply. When you pick your spot for endive make sure that area receives full sun.

One of the easiest parts of growing endive is harvesting it. Endive can be harvested as soon as the size of the leaves become useable. In other words when you feel like cutting off a few leaves and adding them to your dinner. I recommend using a pair of garden scissors to cut the leaves off about 1/2″ above where the leaf meets the stem.

As you can see it is very easy to grow endive. Once you get the hang of growing endive then you can really start to play around with it by staggering plants from early spring to early summer and early autumn to early winter so you have a good constant supply of this great vegetable.

Home and Garden Show Trends

Recent spring home and garden shows showcase the latest trends in home design and remodeling. Some of those trends include:

Going Green – Energy-efficient HVAC systems and appliancessave you money on your utility bills and can also save you money on your taxes. Homeowners doing renovation or remodeling work to their primary residence may deduct 30% of a project’s cost, up to $1,500. Many exhibitors were touting the tax benefits of geothermal heating systems, high efficiency solar panels, solar water heating systems, insulated vinyl siding, and solar ceiling fans.

Luxury Features – Homeowners may have cut back on their remodeling budgets, but some luxury items are still hot, including bigger and better hot tubs, built-in wine racks for the kitchen, and water features in and on decks. Faux finishes and murals for ceilings and walls still appeal to many consumers, but in a nod to recent green awareness, some companies now advertise the use of low VOC paints.

Recent Trends Still Popular – Year-round sunrooms remain a cost-saving remodeling option for many homeowners. Granite is still the biggest thing in kitchen countertops, although Silestone and other manufactured stone finishes remain a viable option. Glass tile is continuing to grow in popularity, and stainless steel is still the finish most consumers prefer for appliances.

Do It Yourself – The economic downturn has created a resurgent interest in do-it-yourself, especially among women. A number of booths were exhibiting ergonomic tools and tools designed specifically for women, right down to a smaller size and pink or purple handles.