A stumpery is a garden that re-purposes logs, driftwood, and the root wads of dead trees to create a unique garden display. These items are placed artistically throughout the garden to highlight the architectural quality of tree roots and other natural elements. These wood elements also provide a structural counterpoint to ferns, mosses, and other woodland plants which are planted on, in and around the stumps and logs to “soften” them.

The concept for the stumpery originated in Victorian era England during the mid-1800s. This time in history coincided with the British Fern Craze when ferns were fast becoming a hot collector’s item. This fern craze is thought to be one of the major events that fueled the construction of stumperies. The first stumpery ever constructed was built on the estate of James Bateman in England by designer, artist and plantsman, Edward Cooke. This stumpery, called Biddulph Grange, is still in existence today and features stumps set into a ten foot high wall on either side of a meandering path. A few other notable stumperies include one at King Charles’s estate at Highgrove in England, one at Arundel Castle in England, and one at Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington in the United States.

The development of the Stumpery at the Missouri Botanical Garden began in the fall of 2015. Stumps were collected primarily from Shaw Nature Reserve and consisted mainly of Eastern red cedar with some hardwood species added for variety. Soil was added to form berms on both the northwestern and northeastern corners of the garden. Stumps, logs, and driftwood were arranged and set in place to allow different views from multiple viewing perspectives. Two meandering paths were added through the garden to allow visitors to immerse themselves in the landscape. The construction of the Stumpery was completed in the spring of 2017.

Photo by Cassidy Moody

Hosta_June 22 2020_Cassidy Moody-4637344819278025189

Photo by Kristina Schall DeYong

Stumpery 2_Kristina Schall DeYong637344818040990183

Photo by Tom Incrocci


Stumpery_April 30 2020_Cassidy Moody-10637344819632488997