Creating A Stumpery Garden - Getting Ahead of A 2024 Garden Trend - November 2023

I spotted this annual outlook on gardening trends from Garden Design and will - I think - post about the full list at some point.  I've done that the past few years - 2022 trends -  and last year - 2023 trends.  There are a few items on this years list that are worth a blog-post-level exploration.  

But...there's one item that was totally BRAND NEW to me.  Borderline revelation.  It was that in 2024, more gardeners are going to 'rediscover stumpery gardens'.    I read that and was like...

Wait a second.  Stumpery.  What the heck is a stumpery?   I've never heard of a stumpery let alone thought about adding one or 'rediscovering' stumpery gardens.  

Here's what Garden Design says:

While once a Victorian fad designed to show off fern collections, stumperies are again making a comeback. Only now, the focus isn’t only on plant collections but also on creating wildlife sanctuaries while showcasing shade-loving plants.
Simply speaking, a stumpery is a shady garden that features strategically placed stumps, logs, and unusual pieces of wood as the focal points. The goal is to carefully place these stumps in a naturalistic manner, appearing to have always been there and to allow them to slowly and naturally decompose. Shade-loving plants are placed in, on, and around the stumps and include hostas, hellebores, ferns, scilla, and snowdrops, to name just a few. Wildlife, such as frogs, newts, beetles, and loads of other insects, are encouraged to make their homes in the various wood elements of a stumpery, adding to the natural beauty of these gardens.
An old-fashioned gardening fad that allowed people to really show-off their ferns and other shade-loving plants?  And something that King Charles is in to?

That's *right up* my alley.

But, it kinda gets better.  They also share two new (to me) details:

1.  King Charles (the current King) is an "avid gardener".
2.  And!!!! he has created a "stunning stumpery".


This just opened a whole gardening portal that I didn't know existed.  

There are a bunch of folks who are/were hip to the Stumpery a while back and have created some nice guides - including how-tos, tips and instructions on materials. 

The idea is to find a spot where you can feature some stumps and driftwood.  And, lay it out in a naturalistic way - as if it has been there for years.  Some suggest digging in parts of the stumps and limbs.  Others say to add soil around the limbs. But, to try to hide some of the man-made parts (like clean cut edges).  

Well...don't mind if I do.

I have a pile of big rounds from our Norway Maple laying around.  And, I have plenty of space to put them in a little garden.  I picked a few odd-ball pieces that were 'interesting' to me.  Some of them were covered with mushrooms (I've posted about mushrooms appearing on Maple firewood).  

I picked an empty spot - under the southside large Northern Red Oak Tree.  In front of the back hose reel.  I set up the four pieces (1 true stump, 2 'chunks' and a limb with a hole in it that I'm going to try to plant something in) and arranged them like this below:

Starting a Stumpery Garden


Starting a Stumpery Garden

What comes next?  

I'm going to go get a load of biosolids and pull some of the compost off the pile and apply it in/around these stumps to give them a more -lived-in look.  Bury some of the bottom edges to make them seem sunken-in.  I'm also going to fill in that hole with material and get it settle in all Winter.  I might even transplant a fern in this spot if I have time.  Then....Come next Spring, I'll look to plant some ferns in and other more-interesting shade plants.

I also saw this post about grinding out the center of a stump to make a planter. Sounds like a great winter-time project, doesn't it?

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