Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stumped in the Garden

I was reading the blog of Tim at A Chef in the Garden and saw his beginning Stumpery. Stumpery? Whoever thought? Prince Charles, for one. Prince Phillip asked him when he was going to burn that lot when he saw it.

I searched for Stumpery images and found some interesting uses for stumps and roots and such left from clearing land. One that I found looked somewhat like my Stick House before I assembled the various pieces into an improvised structure. For years, I've not wanted to discard ancient stumps and limbs.

The importance of a stumpery is that it provides shelter for small animals and a haven for plants like ferns, hostas, hellabores and other shade loving plants.

Frequently used in a stumpery are stumps turned upside down so that the pointed end of the root is up and the cut stump is flat on the ground, as here.

The stump in this picture is pine. Termites have eaten the soft cellulose, leaving what we call a 'lightard' stump.

The stump below stays in my garden as ornament, decorated with a ceramic quail.

Spanish moss,live oak

Stumperies may not catch on, but it's something new to consider.

I've long considered stumps with Tillandsias, not only Spanish moss, but small plants.

I've moved other stumps in and out of the garden as whimsey.
Choosing stumps and hauling them to the garden is a fun project for winter afternoons.


  1. Great post Nell Jean! I love the sculptural quality of stumps. Only one cannot be attached as they will transform over time. Beautiful photos. Carol

  2. When we had our bad ice storm a few years ago, our son and DIL were helping clean up the yard. Our DIL, began dragging some dead limbs from the edge of a flower bed and I heard our son tell her 'I think that's some of Mom's garden decoration'.

    Many of our neighbors were making monster piles of dead limbs in various pastures and burning them!
    I couldn't imagine why they didn't just let mother nature break them down and let the creatures use them as long as they lasted.

    I call it the City Park syndrome!

  3. One of my greatest garden treasures is an old Eastern Red Cedar driftwood stump I found on the beach. It was quite a haul to get it home, and my Dad had to think twice before letting me put it on his boat. But it now has a place of honor in the backyard.

  4. I have long admired Prince Charles Stumpery, and I believe not too ong ago I saw on article on one at the Bannermans garden (the designer of his). Too bad, I do not have any stump myself. I coud be talked into another garden project.

  5. Maybe I'll find my dead oak tree more appealing as time takes its toll. I'm trying not to be too concerned about it. It's too large to move, too heavy to roll, too big to handle without heavy equipment. I've got plans to cover it next spring with flowering vines, hopefully providing food and shelter for some of the critters that roam the Wild.

    I've got lightard in the woods around here too. At some point, a few red cedars lived here. Something took them out. The twisted trunks look a lot like yours. Maybe I'll see what I can do with them during the winter now that I can find them.

  6. We did several stumperies for the Shade Garden at our MG public display gardens. I've got a small one in my own shade garden, with ferns and such scattered about. In time the stumps take on more and more character. I think it is a great idea that more gardeners should try - sort of a natural hardscape.

  7. That is a great idea that I never really thought about. I have big rocks scattered about in my garden beds. I think a stump would look nice and natural. -Amy

  8. We drag interesting stumps home from the county brush site. Sometimes, we find one that is so perfect, so wonderful, but it is too big to handle. There are some real beauties there, it is a shame I cannot have them in my garden.

  9. Stumperies are fascinating. I've read about Prince Charles' and wished that I had a space/place to develop such a cool focal point.

    btw, I have gotten similar spamming comment (thought it was Chinese, but have no clue, really) & have been unable to delete it. It has caused serious errors on my blog format/navigation. If anyone knows how to delete it - when trying to delete it the usual way simply does not work - please let me know.
    Love this post, Nell Jean,

  10. I hadn't thought of stumps as things of beauty before. We have a lot of forestry round here and when they cut the timber they leave the site looking like it's been hit by a nuclear or volcanic blast. There are occasional thin stripped trunks upright and a devastation of ripped up roots all around. When I drive by now I shall try to think positively of all the wildlife habitats they have created!

  11. I like the idea of "stumpery" Nell Jean ~ I wonder if my neighbors would enjoy it as well? That's sometimes a problem living in subdivisions with more strict covenants. I have to be careful about what I do in the yard. Maybe I can sneak one into the backyard?

    I was so excited to read that you have an 'Exotica' Amaryllis too! That was one of the new bulbs I bought this fall but mine's not close to opening yet. I'll have to come back and enjoy yours first! It looked really beautiful in the catalog (where I ordered mine).

  12. I recently acquired a beautiful piece of stumpery art for the garden. It was on the street ready for the city to haul it away! It's quite lovely in my eyes and will look great in the garden. gail

  13. I love old stumps, logs and driftwood. There is just something about the shapes they take on.
    As you may have noticed here in the State parks they let fallen trees and such lay only removing them from the paths. They serve as hosts to many animal and plant life. Some people look and see an old ugly log without even noticing the beauty or shelter they create.
    Lovely shots of some fantastic stumps Nell.

  14. Everything is beautiful here in you blog, including the tree stumps. In Asia, beautiful tree stumps are treated to become household furniture like garden table with complementary chairs and other decorative items. Chefs use the trunks as chopping boards.

    Nell Jean, my post today is dedicated to you.

  15. Hi Nell Jean,

    You have such a great eye for finding beauty in the landscape. I do love old stumps. I actually took some photos of stumps recently. Maybe I need to actually post them now :0)

  16. Thanks for showing these beauties, Nell Jean. I had never heard the term stumpery, even though I have Prince Charles' gardening book. These pieces are natures art. We have a few, filled with potting soil and dianthus. We have to keep topping up the soil as they rot down to humus themselves. Those you feature are very special.


  17. Nell Jean,
    Great idea. Now I don't have to feel guilty about leaving a large Mango tree stump in my backyard. The tree was taken out by Hurricane Wilma so I just chainsawed her level about chest high and now use the stump as as a plant table.

  18. interesting post. I like the one standing upright in your garden. It really adds a lot.

    Gld - funny story!

  19. Congratulations to all of you who have logs and stumps in your garden. I hope the rest of you can find wood worthy of the Prince's standards.

    Nature's art is where we find it. I have to turn my stumps upside down before I see their best beauty. If not for stones, seashells, limbs and stumps, I don't know what I would do for decoration. Even flower pots, wrought iron and cement walks start out as natural materials.

  20. I just finished (yet another) sustainable design certification course, and the value of stumps for creating wildlife habitats was one of the issues raised. However, the delightfully British sounding 'stumpery' is a new word for me. Thinking I'll use it to suggest this idea to clients - much more designery sounding.

  21. driftwood, stumps - romantic and houses for needy wildlife. Or untidy, depending on your taste and perception. I love being with people who agree with me.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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