The enchanted garden

The Victorians loved their stumperies. The Ickworth stumpery dates back to the formation of the lovely Italianate garden by the Hervey family in the 19th century and even contains some large stones from the giants' causeway. Over the last two years the gardeners here have expanded the stumpery so that it stretches the length of the garden.

Our gardeners have worked very hard through all manner of weather conditions to create what you see today. It's well worth a visit to this magical enchanted garden with something new to see every season.

    What is a stumpery?

    An upended stump showing roots in the stumpery at Ickworth

    A stumpery is a garden feature made from parts of dead trees such as rooted trunk stumps, large pieces of bark or even logs. They are arranged artistically to be pleasing to the eye and the Victorians were very keen on them possibly due to the influence of the Romantic movement, which emphasised the beauty of nature.

    Tree stumps are usually arranged upside down so that the root structure can be seen. By allowing the root of a tree stump to be exposed to the elements, the soft wood decays and leaves a propeller like hard wood structure, which is similar to what you would see when looking at drift wood sculptures. Here at Ickworth we've several large stumps that have been placed in this position but we've a long way to go before we match the proportions of the most famous modern stumpery at Prince Charles’ home at Highgrove House.

    Creating our stumpery

    A stump with ferns in the stumpery at Ickworth

    The gardeners have spent many long hours carefully planting ferns and other shade loving plants within the wood arrangements. In the Victorian era ferns were very fashionable and several varieties and species were introduced into Britain from around the world at this time. Their popularity could be attributable to their self sufficiency. They require very little intervention to proliferate widely and they do not suffer from being eaten by animal wildlife.

    A haven for wildlife

    Toad spotted along side the pond, from the bird hide in Dinefwr Park.

    Talking of animals, near neighbours to the ferns are likely to include slow worms, stag beetles and small mammals who like to burrow down into the dark and fertile soil around the stumps. Toads are often found in such environments, they like to use redundant burrows left by other mammals.

    Using your imagination

    A stump with ferns in the stumpery at Ickworth

    As you walk through the stumpery, stop and take a few moments to look at some of the displays. It's easy to imagine that some of the wooden statues look like animals and large birds. What do you think this one resembles?

    A place for reflection

    The path through the stumpery at Ickworth

    As you walk through to the eastern stumpery, there's a seating area provided in the shade of a yew tree. Take a rest here and just quietly listen to the sounds that surround you. It's very rare that you'll sit in complete silence, from the birds chattering in the branches above, to the rustling of the leaves underfoot. You'll find that this is a world that is a complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the chaotic one that we live in.