The way people treat their environment and living spaces speaks very loudly on the attitudes and temperament of the people that are occupying it. For this, there are two very obvious and distinct line of thought whether it is in the treatment of the space or just about anything else, the European design and the oriental way.
In designing gardens and the general landscape western thought will be inclined on a more utilitarian path. Lands has to be used, reshaped, maximized and in many cases result to artificiality. Hence, European designs will tend to control their environment by dominating it, conquering it; sanitizing it and making improvements on it that are more or less unnatural. Aesthetics is the main theme. When it comes to gardens, the main practice would be to culture it and create displays of artificial beauty.
For the Orientals, often the opposite is done. What the oriental strives for is a more natural setting where intimacy and tranquil experience is paramount and restraint, not flamboyance is observed. This attitude in the treatment of their surroundings extends also to the manner by which the east and the west conduct interrelationships.
While the European way would prefer definitive answers like a yes or no or a black and white, Orientals would try to seek compromises.
Because of this, European gardens would tend to be a statement of achievement in all its manipulated grandeur while a Chinese garden would be more spiritual and more in the flow of the landscape, not seeking primarily to improve it as to breath the natural experiences from it.
This is why a European garden will have geometrical lines, straight lines and sharp angles cut into it while an oriental garden will have none of it. This is also why European designs changes from era to era according to vogue that is the trend of the present.
Orientals on the other hand are content with designs that while they are sometimes enhanced, has also endured and as unchanging and as eternal according to what nature and spirituality intends it to be.
There is a basic reason for this.
The oriental gardens and by extension (and as adopted) the Feng shui gardens, take into consideration, a basic respect to experiences and humility towards the natural.
Neither too ideal nor too religious as to place these precepts above the now and the real life, as they know it, they have better ability to conform more naturally to their environment. While the west builds high walls around them and calls these as living spaces, the Orientals never feared the allure of the wild.
Instead of modifying the environment, the Orientals adopt their landscape elements in their Feng shui gardens such as the water, the plant, the structure and the slopes or mountains.
Feng shui gardens adopts the subtlety and contrasts of the yin and the yang to their gardens like variety and unity, scenery according to their subjective reactions, stillness and movement and generality and locality.
It doesn’t matter then whether one lives in an apartment or a condo unit or whether the garden has ample spaces to it. Applying the rules and principles of Feng shui will mean putting plants where they are most natural and will always result to a more natural feel by simulating a natural environment where there is healing and harmony.