stumpery3

A year ago, BBC-2’s “Great British Garden Revival” had an episode about stumperies. These odd, fairy-like (or would that be troll-like?) structures, akin to rockeries, but made of wood, were a favorite of the Victorians. Some say they’re an invention of the The Romantic Movement, which emphasized the beauty of Nature for Nature’s sake, turning away from the dry, heartless emphasis on science and reason of the Enlightenment.

Stumperies can become homes for little mammals and lovely insects and can be created from driftwood, bark, dead trees arranged upside down so the roots show, stumps or logs (they can certainly save the cost of hauling detritus away). Stumperies are often planted with mosses, lichens, ferns and other woodland flora, even rhododendrons and azaleas.

Needless to say, when I saw the “Garden Revival” stumpery show, I simply had to have one. Even a mini-stumpery would do. There are a couple of potential spots in my garden, but I could not get it right. When the plumber came and replaced some of the beautiful old lead pipes, I kept them and arranged them around a fallen tree stump I’ve had for years imagining I might make a “pipery” instead. But that hasn’t worked either.

Last week, our tree man came over to clear out the dead branches on the ash and peach. Randy customarily saws the larger pieces into logs and leaves them for people to pick up as firewood. I saw my chance! Here at last was my little stumpery. More edging than a real stumpery, but something’s better than nothing and eventually there will be growth between the logs and all around.

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Speaking of firewood, England’s Prince Charles, a great proponent of gardens and a devout environmentalist, has an exquisite stumpery in his garden at Highgrove, but when Charles’ father, Prince Philip, saw it, he remarked, “When are you going to set fire to this lot?”

(Highgrove is featured in Part Two of “The Great British Garden Revivial: Ponds and Stumperies,” at 30:57)

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