Rock Garden

This boulder-strewn slope provides some of the earliest signs of spring as well as brilliant color in the fall. BBG's Rock Garden uses boulders to define beds and create pockets of microclimates where a variety of plants are able to thrive. Many of the plants showcased are compact and suited to growing in dry small spaces. Many of the boulders that pepper the landscape were deposited on the site during the last ice age and unearthed during construction of various parts of BBG.


The Rock Garden is divided in to the following areas:


A collection of large shrubs and trees (including maples, pines, spruces, and viburnums), these woody plants serve as an eye-pleasing backdrop to the Rock Garden.

Acid-loving Plants

As the name implies, these plants require acidic soil conditions. Many belong to the heath family, Ericaceae, including heaths, azaleas, and rhododendrons.


This area is for smaller, more delicate plants that could easily be overwhelmed by other more vigorous plants in the Rock Garden. Many of these plants are hardy and grow in very inhospitable areas in their native habitats, but need extra care in our climate.

Drought-tolerant Plants

No rain? These plants don't mind. Most inhabit very dry landscapes. Some have succulent leaves or other adaptive features that allow them to exist with little moisture.


Cone-bearing plants predominate in this section, particularly dwarf or low-growing varieties of yew, juniper, spruce, fir, and false cypress, all of which stay green year round.

Shade-tolerant Plants

Tall oaks and conifers create a protective canopy over this collection, which includes shade-enthusiasts like azaleas, rhododendrons, bulbs, hostas, anemones, and hellebores.

Curator Laura Powell

Laura Powell, Curator

Laura Powell was born and raised in Brooklyn and grew up visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with her family and on school trips. She worked at the garden as a horticultural intern in 1999 and came back to join the horticulture staff as a full-time gardener in 2005. After working for two years on the grounds crew taking care of the turf areas of the gardens, she became curator of the Rock Garden in 2008.


Opened to the public in 1917, it was the first rock garden of considerable size in an American botanic garden. During a renovation in 1992, additional boulders, imported from Westchester County, were added to the original collection.

Spring Inspection, 1922. In the Rock Garden. ©1922 Louis Buhle. All rights reserved. For reproduction permission, contact [email protected] To see more historic images of BBG, visit
The Rock Garden in spring. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
The Rock Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
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