Chinese New Year 2019 is only days away and Elizabeth Bain is busy with her festive preparation. But she’s not in her house cooking or cleaning. She’s in the garden, immersed in the task of sprucing up her garden to usher in the Year Of The Pig.

Bain, who resides in Selangor, is an avid gardener known for her beautiful flora and fauna, not just among her friends but within the local gardening community on social media too.

It’s customary for Chinese families to buy plants they deem auspicious – twisted bamboo, limes, chrysanthemums – to decorate their homes for the Lunar New Year. Bain is also getting something new, but it’s more than buying potted plants and tying red ribbons on branches.

“When I was planning to revamp my garden for CNY, my friend A. Aldas who is a feng shui master mentioned that this year is auspicious for me. But it could be optimised with the right changes,” says Bain, the administrator of the Gardening Friends Malaysia group on Facebook.

“Initially, I laughed it off as I have never practised feng shui. I believe I’ve been blessed with positive vibes in my house.”

Elizabeth Bain is known among friends for her beautiful garden.

Feng shui is based on the ancient art of creating and maximising positive energy flow. Each of the five vital elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water – have their unique characteristics.

So, different colours correspond with each element – green and brown for Wood; red, strong yellow and orange for Fire; light yellow, light brown and sandy earth for Earth; white and grey for Metal; blue and black for Water.

Aldas, who has practised feng shui for over 20 years, convinced Bain to design her garden following feng shui principles and use colours as her tool.

Bain, who took on this project just three weeks ago, says, “I love gardening and didn’t mind playing with different colours in my garden. If these feng shui principles could help increase positive energy in my home and increase my circle of friends, I was up for it.”

Bain is thankful to have Steve Teh and Mohd Firdaus Abd Jalil to help her out with her garden.

Bain’s husband Robert, along with plant nursery owners Steve Teh and Mohd Firdaus Abd Jalil, all rallied to help her. Between them, they manged to redesign her garden just in time for Chinese New Year Eve on Feb 5.

Working according to feng shui calculations for the Year Of The Pig, they used floral colours and other plants to maximise good energy in Bain’s garden and neutralise negative energy.

Some feng shui believers adhere strictly to their consultant’s advice. Some are willing to tear down walls , even homes, to allow positive Qi to move in the right direction because they believe it affects their health and wealth.

Bain wasn’t prepared to go as far as re-landscaping her spacious garden because it would require too much time and work. So the grandmother of one opted for a quickie feng shui makeover.

“There was no way I was going to make major changes like shifting doors or doing renovations. However, I do love gardening and I am always inspired by colours. I knew it would be fun to match my garden according to feng shui colours.”

The southwest sector of Bain’s garden has white flowers that resemble the colours of metal (silver, gold and white).

They started with her front gate in the garden’s south sector. According to feng shui, a quarrelsome star resides in the south this year, which may lead to disputes, conflicts and quarrels. The recommended remedy is to use the Fire element to weaken the energy of the star.

“To reduce the negative energy and bring harmony into the home, I was advised to utilise the colour of Fire, which are red and gold. So I planted red and orange-coloured flowers like red salvias, orange Japanese roses, begonias and mandevilla in this area,” says Bain.

“Feng shui is a study of the interaction of different energies that travel around my garden. It’s all about maximising the positive to create a harmonious balance,” she adds.

Robert and Elizabeth enjoying the lush floral in their garden.

Aldas’ biggest concern was the southwest sector. In 2019, the misfortune star has flown to this corner and Metal is the remedy to counter its Earth energy.

“I was told the southwest position has one of the worst energies and needed a more subdued energy. The colour recommended was white, which resemble colours of metal. So I have planted rows of white angelonias and hung dainty white petunias from the rafters.”

In the southeast sector of Bain’s garden, she has planted flowers that represent the Water element to calm the surrounding energy as there is an inauspicious star here too.

“Water is said to be related to the flow of money and health. This element is represented by water features and plants like blue plumbagoes, lavender and blue daze,” she point out.

Bain is thankful she didn’t face many hurdles in redesigning her garden. Her only challenge was finding plants with the right colours. “The hardest was finding blue flowers that are suited to our Malaysian climate. It took time to find a variety of flowers from different nurseries.”

It’s been almost a month since she started replanting her garden and she’s enjoying every minute. “One of the best things about doing feng shui in my garden is the need to clean it up. There were places with overgrown plants but now I have replaced them with nice flowers.”

While there’s still much to do, she believes her garden is looking and feeling a lot better. “Whether feng shui is working or not, for sure the colours have brought good energy,” says Bain. “I have noticed everyone at home seems happier too!”