The Victorians were known for adding a lot of quirky and artistic aspects to their gardens. Grottoes, unusual water features, mazes and labyrinths. We are particularly fond of the stumpery; a Victorian invention built from a pile of old tree roots and stumps with ferns, mosses and other plants growing amongst and on them. The first stumpery was created by an artist and gardener named Edward William Cooke in Staffordshire in 1856.
We decided to add a few stumperies to our garden because they are in our minds a perfect amalgamation of the beautiful and useful. We like the way that they look now and we know that they will only improve with age. At the moment they look quite bare but we are looking forward to seeing them greening up in the months and years to come.
Last month in a dusting of snow.
The best aspect of them however is their benefit to wildlife as all sorts of insects, amphibians and small mammals can find shelter and a safe place for their young amongst the cracks and crevices. We dug out a slight hollow area underneath each pile of stumps.
All our stumps came from friends who needed to remove some trees. We have planted a lot of ferns as we love the look of them and the feeling of mystery that they bring to the garden. We have also added holly and yew and are planning to keep them pruned to a manageable size. Red Campion is a native Irish wildflower that has seeded itself freely in our garden and we are looking forward to the next couple of weeks when it will start to flower. Some grow up amongst the wood and roots. We have also spotted some toadstools in the shady areas.
Bug-hotels are very popular in gardens these days and the stumperies can be made even more beneficial to wildlife by adding bunches of branches, prunings, hollow stems and leaves. As the stumps slowly rot down they will feed the soil with nutrients and keep on benefiting our garden even after they are gone.
We created our first stumpery last year and it has already got lots of mosses and small ferns colonising it. We put down a thick layer of woodchips on the ground and have added some perennial flowers and small shrubs to further enrich the area for wildlife.
This spring we have added a second stumpery close to the first one and we have a big pile of stumps ready to go for a third. If you have trees that have fallen over in a storm or have had to remove a tree that has grown too big for its space we can really recommend building a stumpery. It is very easy and you can be as artistic as you like, adding plants and whatever you wish to the composition. It is a lot of fun and a great way to utilize something that many might consider an eyesore.