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Barbara Blossom Ashmun - Garden Retreats: Creating an Outdoor Sanctuary

An important aspect of feng shui is the building of protected space. Outdoors, this is a special challenge. Garden Retreats shows (through gorgeous examples) how to create outdoor spaces where our heart sings and our soul rests.

The two pictures that keep drawing me back are of an elevated Thai hut snuggled in a garden in the Pacific Northwest. That charming small hut, open on all sides, screams "tropical." The large-leaf Japanese aralia nearby is a perfect touch. The mosquito net drapery is romantic and totally practical.

A garden retreat doesn't have to be a complicated affair. It can be as simple as a bench for reading and contemplation. The key ingredient is a sense of privacy - the ability to feel "away from it all." Chapter 2 "Sheltering Walls" covers this early on. Other chapters include, "The Entry: Portal of Transition" and "The Inviting Path."

Most (if not all) the gardens are in the Northwest. The author and photographer (Allen Mandell) are both from Portland. The pictures and the text complement each other perfectly in this sumptuous idea book.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, (800) 722-6657, www.chroniclebooks.com, 2000, 0-8118-2500-0, 149 pages, color photographs, paperback, $22.95

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