Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feng Shui Garden Podcast

If you've been following my Feng Shui in the Garden series (part one and part two) ... then you don't want to miss my Nest in Style podcast interview with Feng Shui expert Linda Binns.

In the podcast, Linda demystifies the ancient art and science of Feng Shui ("fung schway") and explains how these principles can be applied easily to your gardens today.
  • Hear how people are using Feng Shui in their outdoor spaces to coax positive energy (or Chi) inside their homes.
  • Learn how a few changes to your garden can bring improvements to other areas of your life.
  • Get expert Feng Shui tips, using simple items like bird feeders, fountains, firepits, trees and more.
Hear podcast. Or keep on scrolling for more on Feng Shui gardens.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feng Shui in the Garden - Part II

The ancient art and science of Feng Shui can be applied not only to your home but also to your garden, as revealed in Part I of this post.

In fact, the exterior of your home and garden are important ways to create harmony inside the house, according to Feng Shui consultant Linda Binns, who owns Harmony Inside and Out, LLC.

“Your outdoor areas are an extension of your indoor living spaces,” says Binns. “To create positive energy inside, you need to create a positive feel to the energy that surrounds and leads to your home.”

That’s why Part II of Feng Shui in the Garden focuses on how to create harmonious energy outdoors by incorporating the five elements of nature – earth, wood, water, fire and metal – in a positive, balanced way in your garden.

“It’s not always practical to represent these natural elements in a literal manner,” she admits. “For example, fire and water features aren’t always possible in apartment settings. However, there are other ways to use these natural elements in a more symbolic way and get a similar effect.”

To get you started, Binns offers these tips for understanding and using the natural elements of Feng Shui in your garden:

Earth: In most gardens, the element of earth is already quite prominent. However, if you live in an urban setting with not a lot of soil and too much concrete, you may need to add more earth.

Bring more earth elements to your outdoor spaces with yellow and cream-colored plants, terra cotta pots or brown furniture. Square and rectangular shapes – such as square stepping stones, rectangular paving bricks, carts or flowers boxes are other ways to bring earth elements to your garden.

Wood: Do you have a lot of greenery in your garden? Then you already have a strong wood presence. Want to add more? Add blue and green elements to your outdoor space, such as the above plant containers. Or, add striped pillows, pots and other accessories. Stripes also represent the wood element in Feng Shui.

Water: From fountains and ponds to swimming pools, there are many ways to add water to your garden. Other ways include flowing pathways, organic shaped garden beds, as well as flags, banners and mobiles. The downward movement of hanging plants also conveys water’s energy.

“Many people associate the color blue with water,” says Binns, “but black is actually the strongest color to represent this element.” Consider adding black iron furniture and black garden accessories, if you need more water energy.

Fire: Outdoor fire pits are a great way to bring the fire element to your garden. But they certainly aren’t the only way. You can add cone-, pyramid- and triangle-shaped trellises and objects. Even conical-shaped trees and plants add the fire element.

Not surprisingly, fire is also represented by the many shades of the color red. That includes pink, burgundy and orange, as in these cheerful orange lanterns.

Metal: Accessories, such as the above decoration, are one way to add metal. But round and arched objects also introduce the metal element. Gazing balls and circular stepping stones are a simple way to add this element, as well as arched trellises.

The color white represents metal too. By adding white painted furniture, rocks or statuary, such as these lovebirds, you can add metal and balance the other natural elements in your yard.

Going Forward: Use your creativity when bringing these natural elements into your home. As you’ve no doubt noticed, objects will often represent several elements, and that’s really the ideal situation.

Take this simple hummingbird feeder, for instance. It not only represents fire energy (red color) but also the water element. Plus, it attracts birds, which bring positive Chi to your home, reports Binns. Birds, animals and people also symbolize fire. So, the white lovebird statues, shown above, can be considered metal as well as fire.

“Over time, you’ll see it’s easy to add natural elements to your garden,” says Binns. “With a little practice, your natural eye will determine how various objects can represent these elements, whether by their design, color or shape. The important thing is to select the items that you enjoy, and have fun while creating a sense of balance and harmony throughout your outdoor spaces.”

Learn more:
Linda Binns of Harmony Inside and Out, LLC  On Twitter: @LindaBinns

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Feng Shui in the Garden - Part I

It's no secret that a beautiful landscape can lift the spirits. But many gardeners are moving beyond just creating a lovely garden, and are applying the ancient principles of Feng Shui to their outdoor spaces as well.

Feng Shui - pronounced "fung schway" - is an ancient art and science developed more than 3,000 years ago in China. This complex body of knowledge guides people in their choices of colors, shapes, materials and object placements in their homes and gardens.

Those who follow Feng Shui often report improvements in their relationships, financial situations, health conditions and careers, according to Linda Binns, a Feng Shui coach and owner of Boise-based Harmony Inside and Out, LLC.

"Our homes express a great deal about our lives," Binns explains. "Energy, known as 'Chi' flows through our environment. Just by making a few adjustments to your garden, you can coax positive Chi into your home and enhance your life."

Binns - who specializes in long-distance consultations - offers a few Feng Shui tips for the garden:

Keep plants healthy and remove all dead trees, shrubs or flowers right away. Make sure plants aren't obstructing the path to your door, or blocking a window. Avoid sharp-edged or pointed plants such as holly near doors or entrances.

Create a protected and private garden environment with evergreen hedges, trees or fencing in the back and sides of your yards.

Curvy pathways allow the Chi to travel more effectively than straight narrow paths. Incorporate curves and organic shapes in your garden as much as possible, and soften sharp edges and angles with flowing plants.

Encourage birds and butterflies into your garden by providing food and plants that attract them. These critters' movements keep the Chi flowing in the right way - not to mention, they make Mother Nature happy too.

Protect your home from difficult neighbors, power lines or busy streets with guardian statues (such as Buddhas, angels, etc...) on either side of the door. A wind chime outside the front door also welcomes in rejuvenating energy, says Binns. A tree in the right place will slow and stop negative Chi from hitting your home.

Invite positive Chi into your home with a small water feature, such as a bird bath or fountain, near the front entrance. Water represents wealth and prosperity, says Binns. Keep these water features clean, and always make sure the water is running towards - not away from - your home.

Coming Soon! Don't miss Part II about the five elements of nature and how to apply these Feng Shui principles to your garden.

Learn More:

Monday, April 5, 2010

The World's First Grocery Gardening Party

Not long after Grocery Gardening hit bookstores in February 2010, I received a congratulatory call from some good friends in California. They wanted to celebrate by hosting a potluck dinner featuring recipes from the book. And since they know I'm a big fan of local foods, they wanted to buy many of the ingredients from their local Farmer's Market.

The world's first Grocery Gardening Party (or GG Party) was born.

I knew this GG party would rock, because: One, these folks are not just supportive friends, they are excellent cooks. Two, they know how to throw a good party. And three, for better or worse, most national trends do tend to start in California.

Being thousands of miles away myself, I lived vicariously through real-time Tweets and emailed reports, but you can see for yourselves how much fun they had.

Here's their menu, as well as mouthwatering pictures photographed by Kurt Triffet. There is even a recipe below for you to try. Cheers!

The World's First GG Party - Menu

Chive Dip and Vegetables (shown above)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

Baby Spinach Salad with Blueberries and Pecans

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Risotto

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (recipe included)

Mascarpone Crostata with Strawberries and Apples

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tarts (pages 150-151) offered a way to enjoy all the asparagus available at spring markets. This vegetarian dish provides a healthy dose of this low calorie, nutritious vegetable.

Baby Spinach Salad with Blueberries and Pecans (page 197) combines tender spinach with berries, nuts and feta cheese to provide a new twist on an old favorite.

Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Risotto (page 181) is the ultimate comfort food, featuring aromatic sage and fennel seeds.

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (page 92) were a big hit at the GG party. So, I'm sharing the recipe for you to try yourself...

Blue Cheese Baked Apples (from Grocery Gardening)

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1/4 cup dried currants

1/4 cup dried cranberries

4 large baked apples (such as Courtland, Pippin, Braeburn or Gravenstein),
well-washed and cored (don't pierce the bottoms of the apples)

1/4 to 1/2 cup cubed and crumbled blue cheese (such as Roquefort, Stilton or Cambozola)

1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the pecans, currants and cranberries in a small bowl; mix well. Fill the apple cavities with the pecan-fruit mixture. Top with a cube or spoonful of the blue cheese.

Place the stuffed apples in a small baking dish and add the boiling water to the pan. Bake 20 minutes, until the apples are softened but not falling apart.

Mascarpone Crostata with Strawberries and Apples (page 140) provided a decadent way to end the meal. This Italian fruit pie/tart concoction is easy to make too.

Plus, there were even leftovers. What could be better than that?

Some of the brains, cooks and planners behind the world's first GG Party take a break to pose for a picture. Special thanks to all who made this happen... Lori, Claudia, Cathi, Jim, Kathy, Carrie, Kurt, Rhonda, Ti, Isabel and Lee.

Learn More about Grocery Gardening.