ro­man­tic In­ten­tions

Pho­tog­ra­pher Claire Takacs cap­tures the cen­turies-old Vic­to­rian pas­time of stumpery gar­den­ing in her de­but, Dream­scapes


The an­cient art of stumpery gar­den­ing gets a mod­ern re­vival

The idea of stumperies is rooted in the 19th-cen­tury Bri­tish ro­man­tic Move­ment that hy­per­bolised the beauty of na­ture.

Pat and Wal­ter riehl’s new stumpery on Vashon Is­land is a hid­den for­est of na­tive tree stumps brim­ming with emer­ald ferns, mosses and lichens planted in homage to this ro­man­ti­cism. In­spired by visit­ing euro­pean ferner­ies and stumperies with Bri­tish fern ex­pert Martin rickard, as well as the se­cret stumpery cre­ated by Prince charles at his high­grove estate, the riehls have spent the past few years clear­ing their 110-square-me­tre shaded ravine of net­tles and this­tles to make way for a col­lec­tion of around 175 Madrone and dou­glas Fir Tree stumps be­jew­elled in some of their favourite fern va­ri­eties such as Blech­num, adi­antum, Poly­podium and dry­opteris, to name but a few.

The re­sult – the largest stumpery in the united states.

‘as you ac­cess the gar­den through the per­gola, which is piled high with stumps on all sides, you en­ter an­other world,’ says claire Takacs of her ex­pe­ri­ence of pho­tograph­ing this en­chant­ing space. as the col­lec­tion of na­tive tree stumps slowly de­com­pose, they pro­vide won­drous sculp­tural in­ter­est and have be­come home to a mul­ti­tude of plants, birds and in­sects. colour is kept to a min­i­mum – the only flow­ers be­ing epimedium in the form of ground cover. This re­straint adds to the peaceful na­ture of a space planted with a great di­ver­sity of rare and un­usual ferns. Moss soft­ens the wood­land gar­den nat­u­rally and Pat’s pride and joy are the south-eastern aus­tralian tree ferns,

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