Some Nearly Final Words On Boulders

Not all boulders are alike.

The Asian Section

Some even have titles of their own – “Shibumi Rocks” dot Japanese landscapes like these impressive doyens of timelessness who corner the market on Time itself. Many times, these gorgeous billions-of-years-old guys actually are the landscaping. These are the understated attention-getters who supply some peaceful perspective on those who pass and which abide in their Eternal reliability. Unless they fall over, of course. 😉

(click any image to enlarge)


Other ‘rocks’ also fill this bill but in a far more bio-morphic – almost human way. Maybe even more to the point – in somewhat monstrous and unusual ways. The Chinese have perfected the art of placing boulders which are amazingly evocative. These things gather impressions for the more active parts of our imaginations as we get riveted by their near supernatural shapes. They probably most resemble those wild forms in the clouds we so often imagine resemble something we relate to. One can see shapes and guises for all sorts of imagined creatures and things in these amazing stones. That they fit so well into landscapes makes it even weirder somehow. The picture below is a “softened effect” as we see where the balance of plant and rock makes a fine compromise.


Somewhere else inside the Portland Chinese Garden, we get a different take or two. These suckers are plain bizarre:


These incredible stones and their distinctly unusual messages come naturally for them. There are formations which feature these sorts of stones and which occur in Nature there. The Chinese who send for these are the exporters for very specific and limited environments like these gardens which they themselves construct.


I could look at these all day:


But that is China and Japan. In both cases, they are able to work with what they have in their natural geologic environment. I recall, having worked on this garden, the stockpiles of these stones as they arrived and as they were put into storage. I was eager to see how they expected to use them in the garden. I now think their placement was perfect.

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Through a hole they look sweet – not the first hole, either!:



The North American Section

Over here, we deal with a range of rocks and boulders which are really every bit as diverse, if not quite as weird in the same ways. We do have remarkable Shales and Limestones in the Eastern US which give us innumerable creative outlets. The stratified nature of limestone lends it to stacking and to flat planes. These are particularly impressive when used for water features, as these pictures from the corporate headquarters of Papa John’s Pizza illustrates – one of our favorite local Louisville walks.

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Stacked, they make wonderful rockeries and informal walls for the surrounding foliage to fill out magnificently:

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Here is a fabulous example of tasteful placement:

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I’ve always loved this perspective of the sets of waterfalls at Papa Johns’:

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Moving towards Jeruselum………………….we encounter another perspective………as the sounds of thousands of gallons of water plummet over rocks and fall……

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Until we come to that place where we see what the ruccus is all about:

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It’s way well worth the walk:

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I’ll have to dedicate an entire post to this place soon.

Meanwhile…………..this guy is trouble with a Capital T:

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Hopefully, it will be a while until he gets the key to my boat:

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My brother Tom would be mad:   😉

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3 thoughts on “Some Nearly Final Words On Boulders

  1. Mr Snedeker,

    I thought I’d peruse your website for some help with my wilting hydrangeas (God, if you could see me crying even your sin-stained heart would break.) Instead of Sned’s Handy Hydrangea Help, however, I see this Burning Man abomination. I’ll never visit your site again you you gay hippie leftist pot smoking mixed-race tree hugging desert type dumb person.

    Sincerely, Harriot Leathersnatch
    Crosspubic, Georgia

  2. Mrs. Leathersnatch – or should I call you Granny? Thanks for your thoughtful letter. Pleasing everyone is a chore and a half. My good friend Adolf Hitler had his enemies as well, as you no doubt remember. I will take your statements under advisement and attack an old lady within an hour and blame it on you and your withered brain, dear. Then I will attack another one and make her smoke pot. Bwaa ha ha hah a. Take that, Granny Grunt!

  3. Hi Steve
    I love your gardens…and particularly the chinese flower paths…can I ask where the thin curved flower shapes between the stones come from…I have searched without success…
    Thank you
    Wendy Hargrave

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