boulder garden

Whitewater rafters are very familiar with the term boulder garden: a pile of boulders, often found at the mouth of a creek as it enters a river, creating a rapid. (In local usage, such a feature might also be referred to as a rock garden.) Many times, the rapid itself is named after this defining geomorphological characteristic, as in the Boulder Garden of the lower Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. At low water, the technical difficulty of navigating such a passage can deter even the most seasoned river runner. A boulder garden is not limited to waterways, however, and can refer to a scattering of large boulders along dry ground, often left by glacial movement or by rocks being driven up from deep within the earth, as is the case with Boulder Garden in the Adirondacks and Boulder Gardens located on the southwest corner of British Columbia’s Babcock Mountain. Mountain bikers must watch for such clusters, especially the smaller, hidden rocks within the boulder garden, referred to as baby heads. Domestication and appropriation of natural landscape features have resulted in man-made boulder gardens, which often feature giant rocks that have been hauled in to be displayed amid an assortment of carefully arranged plants, flowers, and trees.

Kim Barnes