Wednesday, September 30, 2020

This Month in the Cottage Garden: September 2020

The Stumpery

September's highlights included a major event and a new project. The event was the wedding of a dear friend's daughter for which I agreed to provide the flowers. The project was the design and installation of a stumpery in my garden. For both of these ventures I was blessed with the help of my talented grandson, Jonathan. 

 First the stumpery: Stumperies have been found in England since Victorian times. They are similar to rockeries, but with logs, roots, and bark instead of rocks. Artist and gardener, Edward Williams Cooke, created the first stumpery at Bidulph Grange, England, in 1856. They quickly became popular across Britain. Prince Charles built one at Highgrove House in 1980 using sweet chestnut roots. The largest in the world can be found at Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, Washington, USA. My desire to have my own stumpery took root (pardon the pun) when our beloved catalpa tree was felled. I thought it would be a great way to continue the 'life' of the tree a bit longer. So one weekend when two of my grandsons were visiting, I asked them to help their Pappy move logs. I first chose a location and cleared it of weeds. As you can see above, I sited it next to the outhouse that Duane commissioned his friend George to make for me. I decided to put down landscape fabric as the area was infested with Japanese stilt grass. I wisely asked Jonathan, with his experience of creating miniature gardens, to select the best logs and come up with a design. I would be in charge of the plantings. Duane purchased bags of pine nuggets for the finishing touch.

Jon selected the logs and instructed Duane and Harry on their placement. (Sorry Harry, I didn't take a  picture of you.)

When the logs were in place, I transplanted hellebores from the woodland walk. Stumperies usually have ferns, but the deer often eat mine. This area is frequented by deer, so hellebores seemed the best bet. Then Jon sprinkled pine nuggets around to hide the landscape fabric.

As you can see, we didn't use only catalpa logs. Jon added a door to this interesting stump.

I told Jon about the stumpery at my friend Jenny Rose Carey's garden, Northview. It is very much larger than mine and is the home to gnomes. At Jon's suggestion, we browsed Amazon to find some suitably scaled-down gnomes for my little stumpery. Jon had fun placing them in their new home.

The gnome house, bottom right, was made by George who constructed the outhouse

On the other side we made a chicken garden. The new gardens anchor the outhouse nicely

The wedding: I felt honored to be asked to make the bouquets for the wedding of my friend's daughter, using flowers from my garden. I was nervous because I had never done this before, but Jon reassured me that we could do this. It was to be a very small affair, due to Covid, with just parents and siblings instead of the large number of guests previously invited to attend. The bride had no attendants, just two little flower girls - the bride's niece and the groom's niece. I made the bride's bouquet and a posy for each little girl. I added a boutonniere for the groom. Jon's help was invaluable.

We were limited by the small number of early September blooms. These are some we chose. I wish there had been roses, but we only had a couple of buds.

We gathered flowers very early in the morning, picking far more than we would use to give us plenty of choice. I decided to make hydrangea 'Limelight' the focus of the bride's bouquet. We chose tiny zinnias and the like for the little girls -- matching them to the color of their dresses. Carnations plus yarrow 'The pearl' would work for the groom.

A few weeks earlier, Jon and I practiced by following a U-tube video. We learned how to use floral tape, covering it with ribbon, and securing with a pearl-headed pin. There were more blooms available that day.

The final result: hydrangeas 'Limelight', sedum 'Autumn Joy', pale pink zinnias, a rose bud, and sweet autumn clematis.

The flower girls' posies and the groom's boutonniere. I wrapped the posies in paper doilies.

The beautiful bride, handsome groom, and adorable flower girls. It was a perfect day.

Autumn arrived on the 22nd. Right on cue, my garden began to look very fall-like. I am not ready for this, but I've started cutting back dead plants and Duane is tuning up the leaf blower.

Hydrangea 'Limelight' in its autumn colors

The path to the front porch -- and I haven't even decorated for fall yet

Since I took the previous picture, I changed the wreath on the door and put pumpkins on the bench. But, as I said, I don't feel ready for the end of the growing season. Where did summer go?

I am linking with Sarah at Down by the Sea in Dorset, England. Let's go through her garden gate to see her beautiful September garden. 

I wish you a happy change-of-season wherever you grow.

Love, Pamela x 

Goldenrod, Solidego

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 

I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. What a wonderful idea to create a stumpery to make use of the felled tree, it will go on providing much pleasure in your garden. What a great job you made of the wedding flowers, I'm sure the bride was thrilled with them. It must be delight to have Jonathan working alongside you, I remember when he was just a little boy and the interest he took in the garden. They do say catch them young and you will instil a lifelong love in gardening in them, and it definitely seems to be the way here.

    1. Jon has helped me since he was a toddler. He is amazing! Can't believe he is 17 now.

  2. Oh, your bouquets are so lovely! Good for you! You and Jon have been very busy. Gnomes on a stumpery--how fun!

  3. Love the stumpery and the wedding bouquets. That last picture of the fallen leaves makes me wish for something like that in my garden, but fall still looks a lot like summer here.

    1. On the other hand, Dorothy, I am so sad to see the end of summer!

  4. Such a beautiful post. I love the idea of the stumpery and the flowers for the wedding bouquet are beautiful and also so special. Thanks for the smile!

    1. 2020 is a tough year on many levels, Lee. I am grateful for some reasons to smile.

  5. Your stumpery is a great idea and you were lucky to have some help to develop it. While we were away we visited RHS Garden at Rosemoor and they had created a stumpery there since we last visited a few years ago! Your bouquets were beautiful and so special for the bride and flower girls so much nicer than from a shop. Sarah x

    1. I bet the stumpery at Rosemoor is large and beautiful, Sarah. I would love to see it. Yes, the wedding flowers were very meaningful as the the bride and groom are friends who visit and admire my garden. Such an honor for me.

  6. I felt sure I'd left a comment?

    I enjoyed your post and beautiful photographs.
    I think the stumpery is a great idea.
    Beautiful bouquets and lovely wedding pictures.

    All the best Jan

    1. I think I inadvertently deleted your original comment, Jan. I sincerely apologize! Thank you so much for your kind words.