Harnessing nature’s powers | Daily News

Harnessing nature’s powers

Juliet Coombe takes a look at how clever garden design captures the energy forces of the universe and leaves one fully reinvigorated

Early morning the dragon flies flit across Sunrise by Jetwing’s zig zag azure blue pool, darting in and out of it taking sips of water from the surface while leading those that are watching on a merry dance through a magical tropical garden.

The frolicking dragon flies draw one into a world that fully demonstrates the importance of creating ones garden using ancient principles of Sri Lankan Feng Shui, even on a beautiful beach like Pasikudah this age on practice hold true. It is clear on my Tree Trail that this was all part of the architectural thinking behind this stunning property. The landscaped garden that greets you on arrival not only enhances the beauty of seeing the longest stretch of shallow coastline in the world, but also makes you realise the importance of garden design on a medicinal, spiritual and practical level.

Realising this General Manager, Wester has developed a fascinating Tree Trail so people can see how Sri Lankan’s Feng Shui works. Positive energy forces of nature and trees to harmonize us as individuals with our surrounding environment and brings peace and tranquility into our busy lives. The term Feng Shui literally means, "wind-water" in English and usually used in Chinese culture to position a building in the optimum place to harness these different power forces of nature.

The sea the great unknown needs natural barriers such as palm trees to protect us from its unpredictable nature and sure enough along the shore line of this architectural masterpiece are several different trees balancing the environment including trees that act as a sand filter, when the wind comes up and Vhembe Trees as the Tamils call them for their health benefits. Known in English as Neem it is popular for making herbal teas from their leaves and acts as a natural mouth freshener if you chew the leaves as you come out from a salty sea bath. A perfect example of this can be found next to the Sunrise by Jetwing beach front garden and my lovely tree guide encourages me to use a branch of it after peeling off the bark for me, he hands it over and explains villagers use it as a jungle toothbrush. To be honest a few strokes of the cut back stem and my teeth not only felt cleaner, but also had a zing about them. Unlike modern toothbrushes it will not collect bacteria as you can get another twig from the tree the next morning.

On the beach shadow trees with giant pineapple shaped fruit that are great for ornamental purposes allowed us to cool down from the heat of the sun and talk about the wonderful coastal birdlife with its cooing Blue Pigeons and its yellow and black and white butterflies. Here I learn about the different fishing practices and the importance of not catching things during the mating season.

Walking on through the Sunrise garden I could smell Jasmine mixed with the perfume of other tropical flowers further adding aromatherapy and its benefits to this fascinating walk. I am told the flowers of all colours and styles are grown around the bedrooms so that we sleep deeper and the pungent smell of the flowers helps replenish our body, minds and souls at night. Indeed every evening I would fall into a deep sleep and get up with a skip in my feet to watch the sun rise over the ocean. As we walked on I was shown four different types of Jasmine, which were picked and given to me and even two days later they filled the bedroom air with wonderful sweet aromas.

Of course no tree trail is complete without trying the local fruit of the Jamun Tree, which produces what looks like miniature dark red cherry. I learn as I bite into one that these fruits are seasonal to the months of October and November and are good for diabetics. The tiny red fruit helps to rebalance the system and are rich in iron. As I eat more of these wonderful berries I am told not to bite into the seed, which is very bitter but also has health benefits. From one side of the garden, we cross to the other side and I learn about the spiritual trees of the different religions like the Papal Tree, which is very important to the Hindu people and has a cooling effect on the mind as you sit underneath contemplating the meaning of life. The mix of religious trees reflect the rich mix of cultures that Sri Lanka as a trading island is famous for.

From here we walk to the SPA building with its colonnade of coconut trees flagging it on one side and on the other is an umbrella like flowering tree with the remains of a bee hive. This wellness gardening strategic thinking creates a green carpet to a centre run by Wester’s Island wide team, who are passionate about re-booting tired souls and bringing our inner spirits back to life so we can enjoy a healthy curry leaf juice when we get up in the morning for a swim. Curry leaves are good for just about everything from digestion, to the strengthening the shine and body of ones hair. It is a great energizer and is part of the work forces garden hidden behind the hotel. Along with other spices which are used in the daily meals, that are prepared by the head chef that knows all about balancing the human body so we can enjoy delicious meals each day to the full.

The tree walk that passes one of the two lilly ponds in the grounds, continues on to an ancient Banyan tree and we discuss Buddhist philosophy and it dawns on me as we walk on how the garden has been carefully laid out for the spiritual well being of the guests and staff. The Tree Trail shows how a clever gardens incorporate different trees that enhance energy lines, flowers that act as a natural form of colour therapy with different smells to relax the mind, and create a grid that is like a re-enegizing vortex.

The Tree Trail creates a nature reserve that has brought many types of butterflies to the garden, and birds that sing beautiful mating songs early morning. In one case a king fisher was carrying a fish that had fallen out of the fishing nets drawn in early morning back to its nest for its hungry baby birds to feed off. Following another trail of dragon flies we stop at one of the many Wara flowering plants (Giant Milkweed, Crown flower, Sodom apple), which produces a milky juice from its stem and I learn when extracted it is an excellent remedy for Leprosy and a number of other aurvedic treatments.

Taking photos so I can remember the different trees, we also stop and pick some herbal leaves to make a medicinal tea back at the open air restaurant and here I sit by the pool enjoying the sounds of the serenading birds, while smelling delicious spices coming from the kitchen. I am reminded as a rare blue pigeon perches on the rails of the grand atrium hall of how these were the messengers of the past before the postal system, couriers, email or WhatsApp. They like the garden are all part of the invisible forces" that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together”, known as qi. Unique bodies of water like Passikudah where fisherman still navigate by the stars, protecting their boats from evil spirits with blessed sari material tied around the helm to guarantee they will always return home safely are just a few of the things you will learn about.

Here the village people still know the medicinal power of the different Sri Lanka’s trees, berries and bark that hold many different important healing powers. They want each one of us to discover the mystical exotic roots that connect all of us back to nature and a more natural way of life. Sunrise by Jetwing’s unique garden Tree Trail celebrates this ancient way of thinking and is just one of many experiences they want to share with the world. Along with exploring a nearby hidden rock temple that survived the 2004 tsunami, where you can make a special wish and leave it tied in sari material to a sacred tree. A place where fishermen and farmers are guided by the stars, moving only with the rhythm of the seasons and the traditions handed down to them by their ancestors. 


 

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