We are not stumped for good ideas

This time last year we took on a new project creating a “Stumpery” in the walled gardens, it was such a success that Her Grace made the decision to increase the area to form an even larger stumpery.

Saturday, 1st December 2012, 1:28 pm

We found that both adults and children loved the variety of shapes that the roots form, which allows the children to let their imaginations flow, is it a dinosaur! This area now complements the lovely old brick wall that is shadowed by the dramatic backdrop of Arundel Cathedral behind.

Brief History: A stumpery is a garden feature made from parts of dead trees, and traditionally consists of old/ancient tree stumps which can be arranged in many different angles, upside-down or on their sides, to show the root structures at their best, but logs, driftwood or large pieces of bark can also be used. The first known “stumpery” was built in 1856 at Biddulph Grange, was designed by the artist and gardener Edward William Cooke for the estate’s owner James Bateman. Plants such as ferns, mosses and lichens are often encouraged to grow around and on the stumpery. Stumperies provide a home for wildlife and have been known to host stag beetles, toads and small mammals.

Stumperies have been described as “Victorian horticultural oddities” and were popular features in 19th century gardens. The reasons for their popularity vary, but it may be a result of the “Romantic Movement ” which emphasised the beauty of nature. Their popularity may also be attributed to the increasing popularity of ferns as garden plants at the time. Ferns were very fashionable and hundreds of new species were introduced to Britain from around the world. The stumpery made an ideal habitat for these shade-loving plants. Additionally stumperies may have been used in place of rockeries in areas where suitable rocks were in short supply.

In our stumpery we have planted a wide variety of ferns, from locally grown ‘Tongue’ ferns, to more exotic Chilean ferns and for some extra height and structure ‘Dicksonia Antarctica’ - Tasmanian tree ferns. To add to the design we have planted ‘Euphorbias’, ‘ hellebores’, ‘Snakeshead Fritillary’, ‘Scillas’ and ‘Hostas’. To create more shade and stunning autumn colour we have planted ‘liquid amber’ trees.

A few tips from the castle garden team:

Remember to use a crop rotation in your vegetable garden, move crops to different beds each year on a four year rotation.

During the dormant season, from now until March it is a good time to plant bare rooted trees, bushes and shrubs, use a good bone or fish meal.

Start planning your herbaceous border plants for next year.

Prune back your vines.

If you haven’t netted your brassica’s do, before the pigeons have a good feast!

Happy Gardening!

Arundel Castle and Gardens are closed for the winter, but we look forward to opening again in the spring.

Martin Duncan

Arundel Castle Head Gardener