Conflict between feng shui expert and landscape architect!

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What happens when a Feng shui expert and landscape architect disagree? This can and does actually happen. In fact it can happen that a Feng shui diagnosis will differ from an architect or interior designer point of view as well. Why? Because the energy of a space isn’t the same as the aesthetic preference or even the ecology of a space.
So last week I found me and me disagreeing. I am after all a landscape architect as I am a feng shui expert.
After many years of drought in California, we landscape architects have become sensitized to drought tolerant designs. Public spaces are particularly sensitive entities as they are the places where we have the opportunity to educate the public and show them that environmentally sound landscapes can be beautiful.
So in my landscape architect hat I was surprised and a bit dismayed to see the landscape redesign at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The previous design was ahead of its time in demonstrating the types of plants that can be used in a cohesive dry garden. Plants were arranged in masses to highlight their textures and show how succulents don’t have to be a “fruit salad” but can be a unified design.
Aesthetically the new design is beautiful as it relies primarily on lawn which most of us love and annuals which are always eye candy. The fountains in the plaza are lively and the theme shape mirrors the shapes in the building. Because it is difficult to marry the shapes of the buildings around the plaza, a circle unifies the plaza. Along Melrose there are two whimsical sculptures that flank the oldest of the buildings, the blue whale and waves of lawn are a joyful expression. All that being said, ecological, it is not! Lawn + annuals = waste of pesticides, water and energy.
So what did the Feng Shui expert have to say about this design? It is great for the ch’i of the place, the buildings and all of the businesses inside. Why? Let’s begin with the water. In Feng shui terms water equates to money. There is a huge fountain that lifts water and energy up. The fountain has an alternating pattern to it thus expressing the principles of transition and mutability. Unfortunately this fountain also carries a negative factor to it in that its shape is a triangle that shoots “poison arrows” at the buildings as well. It is surrounded by circles both in the paving and in the red begonias in planters and large pots around the fountain. These forms are a small amount of mitigation but not enough to overcome the negative effect of the difficult shape. The color red is a very auspicious color bringing with it good luck and protection. On the whole it is positive though I would not have used the triangles in the design.
Who wins when the landscape architect green person goes head to head with the feng shui expert? It has been a quandary for me in the past when a client has asked me to design a landscape element that conflicts with their best interests according to feng shui. My master, His Holiness Grandmaster Lin Yun when asked about the dilemma had a simple response. Leave the client who asks you to design something that could bring their ruin because it alters the feng shui in a negative way.
Landscape design like many other types of architecture and art can be done many ways. In this case a more ecological design could have been done for this building and have brought good feng shui and a greener example to this public space.
Given the choice between good energy and an attractive or green space, I will choose good energy every time though, again, the choice doesn’t have to be either/ or, it can be both.



  1. Vivian Wright  October 27, 2014

    I had a home for many years in the Luberon region of France, where I became enamored of the light, the food and, of course, the gardens. I now live in Florida, and when renovating, I wanted to bring a bit of Provence into my home and garden. Imagine my joy when I walked into Authentic Provence in West Palm Beach (also online at The owners have sourced the most incredible French and Italian garden antiques and products: statues, fountains, planters (note especially the classic Caisse de Versailles, and Anduze pottery), terra cotta shields, stone animals, copper pots, garden spouts, and on and on. They have created an environment that took me right back to many afternoons spent in the beautiful homes and gardens of Provence. They are also very helpful in giving advice and even sourcing special items, and can arrange shipping anywhere in the USA. I highly recommend this business!


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