Stumpery and Fern garden at OpdeHaar One of the eight gardens of “OpdeHaar”

The history of the stumpery

A stumpery is basically a rockery but made with tree stumps and tree roots. It is often planted with ferns.

Fern spotting and collecting became a popular hobby from the early years of the 19th century in the UK. By the mid-century it achieved obsession status. As a result the author Charles Kingsley introduced the term “Pteridomania” – “fern collecting mania”. Landed gentry competed with each other to showcase unusual cultivars. The owners of Biddulph Grange introduced a specialist garden or “Stumpery” for this purpose. Many variants within species were identified and cultivated. However a significant proportion have unfortunately since been lost when WW1 basically brought an end to the pteridomania.

The Stumpery at OpdeHaar

In the final months of 2019 we had to fell a massive Abies grandis conifer which was dying. Consequently we decided to use the massive sections of trunk to construct a stumpery fern garden in an adjacent section of the woodland. There are numerous fern species and cultivars distributed around the gardens. However, it is a bit of a chore if you want to compare them with each other and conduct comparative studies. The stumpery which is devoted entirely to ferns will hopefully allow us to do this. It also allows us to keep a more careful eye on less common and tender plants.

The stumpery was completed in the late summer of 2020. It is one of the few stumpery’s or fern gardens in The Netherlands.  We are extremely grateful to Wouter van Driel, a prominent Dutch specialist fern nurseryman. He gave us advice and supplied most of the ferns used to set up this fernery. The following video gives an impression of the stumpery. We will provide a more detailed description once everything has settled down and is hopefully growing successfully.


Scroll to Top