Stumperies: A new life for old wood

A stumpery is a garden feature similar to a rockery, but made with parts of dead trees such as stumps and logs. They were especially popular with Victorian gardeners, because they chimed with romantic ideas about the beauty of nature.

But stumperies deserve a place in today's gardens, too - they are an interesting way of using materials that might otherwise be wasted, and can provide fantastic wildlife habitat.  

You can find stumperies at a number of RHS Partner Gardens, including:

Trebah Garden, Cornwall

Head toward the western edge of the garden to find Trebah's tranquil, atmospheric stumpery; a shady dell full of ferns and ancient, sculptural tree stumps (pictured right).

In 2007 a cascade was added; its waters pour down over a natural rock face and into a pool surrounded by several species of unusual Australasian tree ferns.

More about Trebah

Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens, Cumbria

Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens began its stumpery in 2010, using 200-year-old oaks that had once lined the ancient estate road.

It is being steadily developed with woodland plants and ferns in the atmospheric surroundings of Lob's Wood, a woodland garden planted with hellebores and vincas and offering views of the river and fells.

'The wonderful thing about a stumpery is that there are no fixed rules and it can take any form. It is an unusual way to use what might be considered to be waste in an artistic manner,' says owner Jane Hasell-McCosh.

More about Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens

Ragley Hall, Warwickshire

The stumpery at Ragley Hall (called the 'Fumpary') was a perfect way of recycling old tree stumps, beautifying a dry, shady area of the garden and providing valuable wildlife habitat.

It uses reclaimed tree roots from Ragley's woodland to make a foil for shade-lovers including ferns, hellebores, erythroniums (right), trilliums, streptocarpus and spider plants; ensuring a long season of colour and texture.

The stumpery captures the philosophy of Ragley Hall, showing it is possible to create a garden that is aesthetic and wildlife-friendly at the same time.

More about Ragley Hall

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