This Niwot landscape was designed to amplify the earth’s electromagnetic field to keep the home’s occupants healthier and in tune with the earth.
Photos courtesy Outdoor Craftsmen
When you round the corner into Jeff Lambert’s modest-sized, suburban backyard, a surprising visual feast awaits: Cascading waterfalls, a blue-green sea of plants, a hobbit-esque stone-and-timber sauna, and a sunken hot tub surrounded by stone paths and flowerpots. As pretty as it all is, it’s what you don’t see that makes this landscape unique.
“Whenever I move to a new place, I do what I can to raise the energy level, bring more harmony to the space and supply the earth or soil with what it needs,” says Lambert, who imported energy-transmitting basalt pebbles from Mexico, buried crystals in the vegetable garden, and dug an 8-foot-deep core beneath the sauna to access the earth’s “resonance energy.” “Everyone’s health is intimately connected to the earth,” he says.
Since purchasing the Niwot Inn and moving to Colorado in 2008, the 46-year-old bodyworker, entrepreneur and married father of four has transformed a stark, soulless backyard patch of gravel into a lush metaphysical oasis painstakingly designed to bring the elements of fire, air, earth and water together. The landscape also taps into what Lambert, an otherwise straightforward, practical businessman, somewhat shyly refers to as “the earth’s pulse.”
Known as “Schumann resonances”—after Winfried Otto Schumann, the German physicist who discovered the resonances in 1952—the ultra-low frequencies of the earth’s electromagnetic field are considered a sort of “tuning fork” for human health by alternative-medicine practitioners. The more we synchronize ourselves with this primordial hum, they say, the better our minds and bodies will feel. The more static we have (from cell phones, laptops, electronic devices, etc.) between us and the hum, the worse off we are.
“The earth puts out a signal 24/7 and it is what keeps people regulated,” Lambert says. “But we’re generating so many man-made signals on our planet now, it’s getting harder for people to tune into it.”
Creating a landscape to access and amplify something so ethereal called for a designer whose training went far beyond choosing plants and crafting architectural sketches. Enter Scott Deemer, a designer, painter and sculptor schooled in traditional landscape design in Chicago but heavily influenced by a Boulder Buddhist who turned him on to feng shui, metaphysical ideas and what he calls “a more contemplative approach to good design.”
“I was exposed to a totally different style after I got here, and my creativity really erupted,” says Deemer, founder and owner of Outdoor Craftsmen in Erie.
After Lambert got a marketing postcard in the mail with a picture of an artistic fire pit Deemer had designed, he knew Deemer was the man for the job. “Like minds tend to gravitate toward each other,” says Lambert, who has since hired Outdoor Craftsmen for projects at his inn, spa and nearby farm.
After landing the job, Deemer took a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., to visit Lambert’s favorite spa, Ten Thousand Waves, “to get a feel for the kind of aura that was there, and the materials that were used.” Then the like-minded duo got to work on Lambert’s backyard.
At its heart is a custom sauna, or “earth house” as Lambert dubs it, crafted with Rocky Mountain juniper beams and native Colorado moss rock. Atop it is a living roof adorned with the rare Scotch pine ‘Mitch Weeping’ and an assortment of fiery-orange native grasses. Inside, cozy cushions are bathed in soft light, and the smell of cedar permeates the air. Just beneath an occupant’s dangling feet is the 8-foot-deep hole filled to the brim with basalt rocks, known for their healing properties and ability to “magnify the earth’s signal,” Lambert says. “It’s cleansing and rejuvenating and peaceful. It feels like you are back in the womb of the earth, in a sense,” Lambert says of the sauna.
Fine Feng Shui
Deemer used feng shui principles to determine everything in the landscape, from the placement of the waterfall, hot tub, sauna and fire pit to the colors of the trees and flowers. Deep blues and greens, symbols of creativity and calm, abound in the yard.
Thanks to the union of warm, flowing water and artfully designed terraces that protect plants from the wind, Deemer could use ferns, hydrangeas and other plants that often have a tougher time growing in Colorado’s semiarid climate.
“We created our own little microclimate,” Deemer says of the landscape. Lambert was particularly concerned about creating healthy energy in the vegetable garden, so he hauled in truckloads of energy-emanating Mexican beach pebble from the Baja Peninsula and poured it into a 15-foot-deep, 6-foot-wide hole in the garden’s center.
Then he augmented the soil with lime, calcium, magnesium and phosphate—minerals often deficient in commercially produced vegetables—and mixed in a few crystals for good measure. “When that garden was growing out there last summer, the energy was just amazing,” Lambert says.
Meanwhile, he’s embarked on a similar transformation of a new 4-acre property in Santa Fe, N.M. “You can’t be healthy unless even the littlest bit of land you’re living on is healthy,” he declares. “If everybody did something to raise the energy and improve the soil on their own spots, whole neighborhoods would begin to feel better.”