Feng Shui Planning

This is a paper I wrote at university for a planning class in my landscape architecture program that discusses the use of Feng Shui as a planning method.

What is Feng Shui

Around 7000 years ago the people of China developed a philosophy that took the science of geology, astronomy, magnetism, and alchemy and combined them with the superstitions of astrology, shamanism, and fortune-telling. This method, a metabolic system that the people of China had with the earth was called Feng Shui; meaning wind and water. The philosophy of Feng Shui was based on Chinese Shamans finding the best suitable areas to construct homes, alter and burial sites. This philosophy supports the idea of modern ecology and conservation when finding a location to build.

The location of a suitable site would rely on a master of Feng Shui. Only a master…

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Japanese Buddhist Gardens

This is a paper I wrote while at university for a Buddhist Art class. I thought I’d share it here because I wrote about Japanese moss gardens in my book Nature Obscura.


According to Bring & Wayembergh (1981) the history of Japanese gardens can be broken down into three phases. The first phase being a “modified form of the paradise style garden which had developed earlier.” The next phase was then “miniature landscapes that were built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries around Zen temples.” The last phase “included the garden settings meant to recreate the wilderness around a hermit’s retreat.”

Summarized, these three phases were the paradise gardens, the Zen stone landscapes and the tea gardens. The paradise gardens originally were created for the aristocracy as pleasure gardens. As Amidism grew the gardens were created to…

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Pollinators and Flowers

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

In North America hummingbirds pollinate, in the southwest bats pollinate,  but most of all, insects pollinate. By far the most popular garden pollinators are hummingbirds and butterflies, but there are many other beautiful (in a less traditional way) pollinators including flies, bees, moths and beetles.

Many pollinators visit flowers for the nectar, such as butterflies, ants and honeybees, however many insects, including bumble bees and lady beetles, visit for the pollen, which they consume. Many plants have evolved different shapes and colors of flowers to attract certain types of pollinators. There’s a great episode about flowering plants in the wonderful David Attenborough show The Private Life of Plants, and you can see a clip of that episode here.

Pollinator Flowers

Hummingbird flowers have evolved into tubular shapes so that the bird, with their long bills, can…

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Native Plants and Balconies

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Planning a garden on a balcony is often a challenging prospect, but using native plants can both help, and cause further frustration. Balconies are a very different environment from the places native plants usually grow. In addition to the usual challenges of balcony gardens such as using containers, reflected heat and sun exposure, the weather in cities where most balconies are located is also different. The humidity is often lower in the city, precipitation is higher due to a lack of tree canopy and there’s more runoff. Temperatures in the city are also higher due to the urban heat island effect and in addition, the sun often reflects off the buildings and projects more heat onto balconies. Air quality is another factor to consider as well as the wind, which is often a…

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Hedgerows From Romans to Habitat


This is a revised and updated post which was originally published on June 2, 2010.


Although not as significant in the US as in the UK, hedgerows nonetheless offer a valuable design opportunity for wildlife habitat. In the simplest terms, a hedgerow is a row of wild trees and shrubs, packed closely together. In the UK they have a very long and interesting history, dating back thousands of years. They were a mixed blessing, good for wildlife, but very bad for peasant farmers. Historically, hedgerows were the remnants of woodlands cleared to make way for agricultural fields. With the passing of the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, hedgerows were created in great numbers throughout much of the UK as a fencing boundary. Prior to this farming was done in open, common fields. The result of the Enclosure Acts was that peasant farmers, or those who failed to prove…

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Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens Roundup

Following are the last four of my posts on the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog.


A Propagation Primer

Propagation has been on my mind lately. We recently moved into a house with a very bare yard and although I brought all of my plants from our apartment balcony, they hardly make a dent in the yard. I recently visited the local native plant sale and despite spending a hundred dollars, the plants are also not going to make much of an impact. I recently wrote aboutmethods for collecting native plants, which is a great way to acquire hard to find plants, but propagating from your own collection (or friends, family and neighbors) is another easy way to get yourself some more plants.

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