- Author: David Bellamy
Photo by D.Bellamy (A front door rock garden)
This blog will discuss why so many people use rock art to enhance the appearance of their gardens, and specifically, stacking rocks. If you have some property with lots of rocks, you may be more likely to remove rocks to make room for planting. However, many of us have no rocks and bring them in to help beautify our landscape, as well as to keep weeds out and serve as a walkable barrier between our planting areas. But what is the fascination so many have with stacking rocks.
From early times, man has stacked stones at key places along a path to mark the way. Sometimes the number of stones or small runes hidden in the stones may pass on directions or other secret messages. In other places not related to navigation, tall spires of rock may be made as a spiritual inspiration to others, much like the spires or steeples that decorate many religious buildings. In fact, the act of balancing stones has the spiritual significance of an exercise in practice and the physical effort of creating a balance, as well as the lesson of the impermanence of our physical existence.
Photo: Rock Stacking@rockstackinguk , Facebook, Personal Blog, “Strangely satisfying rock stacking in UK.”
In Ireland and other places, a stack of rocks is called a cairn, and they are made as tall and skinny as is easily feasible, so as not to use up much farmable space. However, they became a good place for rats and mice to hide, and Cairn Terriers (like Dorothy's dog, Toto) were developed to hunt the cairn rats and mice.
If you are like many, you may just like the whimsical beauty and the happy feelings they invoke. You may also think of it as a puzzle or challenge, like completing a jigsaw puzzle. So, enjoy them if you have them in your garden or re-stack them differently or in a new spot in your garden if you feel like a lesson in patience would help.
Photo by Fougerouse Arnaud (Stacked rocks over river outcrop)
A word of caution regarding stacking rocks on a trail. Most of us are not blazing new trails and with GPS, we rarely need the cairn to show us the way to go. Wilderness rock stacking conflicts with the now popular, “Leave No Trace” philosophy of leaving a natural area as it was when you found it. Although one stack of rocks may not seem to make a difference, on some popular trails through rocky nature areas, hikers have made over 1000 cairns and are adding 30-40 per day. Rangers or other custodians of the area remove these as fast as they can but can't keep up with it. Besides spoiling the natural beauty, it can create harmful effects on the land causing more runoff where the rocks are taken away and creating small dams in other areas that can also change the natural water flow and result in increased erosion. Even in our yards, maintaining good drainage away from our homes, other structures on our property, and our neighbors' homes is important, or else water could back up into our homes, garages, or sheds during some of the very heavy rainfalls we occasionally receive.
https://www.onlinecameraed.com/rock-stacking/ (Meaning of Stacked Rocks)
https://bearfoottheory.com/what-are-rock-cairns/(What are Rock Cairns & Why You Shouldn't Build Them)
https://www.facebook.com/rockstackinguk (17) Rock Stacking | Facebook, photos)