A stumpery can be described as an area in the garden where tree stumps are arranged to create a decorative effect. A stumpery can be a great option if you have a large tree with deep roots you cannot plant nearby.
This is sometimes called a rock garden made with tree stumps. It can be built around a fallen tree or stumps that are still in the ground.
Victorian garden designs were dominated by the stumpery. The stumpery is making a return because it is environmentally friendly and wildlife-friendly.
The new stumpery at Doddington Place Gardens is based around a dead tree and a dip in the ground.
First time I saw it was in Highgrove in the early 1990s. Prince Charles, who was then the leader of environmentally friendly gardening, spearheaded this movement. I was with a team of journalists when we (literally) got stumped by a clearing where stacked tree stumps were piled up on top of one another, almost forming a wall.
Garden designer Posy Gentles’ front garden bed is 1.5m x 2.5m and is shaded by a wall, a hedge and a multi-stemmed tree. So she has created a mini-stumpery to show off shade-loving small plants.
Lucy Adams and Adam Roberts are gardeners from Doddington Place Gardens, Kent. They have created a stumpery by digging a hole in the ground. garden designer Posy Gentles also created a small stumpery in the front garden of her townhouse. Here are some of their tips. To view more stumperies in this video.
What are the advantages of a stumpery?
You can save time, money, and effort by using them as a garden feature. You will not have to pay for them to be ground down or removed.
You can create a stumpery even if there is a dead or still-in-ground tree.
Create a stumpery by arranging logs and stumps around the roots of trees. This one in Doddington Place Gardens makes use of the natural dip that occurs in the ground.
Dead wood is environmentally friendly because it’s beneficial for insects and wildlife that feeds on insects.
A stumpery can also be a great way to deal with a difficult corner. It’s a great way to deal with an area of your garden which is shaded heavily by trees and has tree roots growing there.
Where can you buy logs and stumps?
You can also ask garden centers, nurseries, or public gardens for stumps if you do not have access to fallen or dead trees.
Lucy says that Doddington Place Gardens is a part of a larger estate. We had a lot of stumps.
The majority of them are from trees that have fallen. Adam said that it would be hard work to dig up a stump. Lucy says that until the stump is dug up, you won’t be able to tell if there are attractive roots. The advantage of using stumps is that they can be seen in their natural shapes.
Tree stumps from fallen trees show the architectural shapes of their roots. If you dig a stump up, it will be very hard work, and you won’t know what the shape is beforehand.
It’s not necessary to have a full tree stump. Posy Gentles offers a variety of stumps that are just a portion of the stump.
Lucy warns you that you cannot just take a tree stump you find lying around while you are out walking. All land is owned or managed by someone. Contact them, whether they are a private owner or the Forestry Commission. You may be surprised at how helpful they are!
You will also need to consider that you may require special equipment or assistance in order to move larger stumps. Lucy said that they could easily move smaller stumps with a wheelbarrow and by hand. We had to hire equipment to move really large ones.
How to install stumps
It’s not necessary to place the stumps in an aesthetically pleasing way.
The stumpery in Highgrove House, in the Cotswolds, inspired both these stumperies at Doddington Place Gardens as well as Posy’s Front Garden.
It was created by Prince Charles in the early 90s when it was an unusual feature. The tree stumps are stacked on top of each other, almost like a tree stump wall.
At Doddington Place Gardens, they have placed the stumps at a distance to highlight their sculptural quality. Lucy adds, ‘We had to put the largest ones in areas that were accessible by the equipment.
The stumps at Doddington Place Gardens are arranged to display their architectural forms.
Posy placed the stumps wherever she thought it looked good.
How deep do you need to plant the stumps in the ground?
Posy’s stumps can be placed anywhere on the ground. The ground is flat, so it’s unlikely that the stumps will move or fall.
She wanted to add height to the plants by using the stumps. She then built up soil around the stumps to create extra planting space.
Rain washed away the soil! She then planted the slates around them to keep the soil in place.
You can barely see the old slates pushed in to hold the extra soil in place. You could also use pieces of broken pottery.
Some people suggest that if you have a steeper slope, you should plant around a third of the stump into the soil. This will keep the tree in place.