Deep in the Pleasure Grounds at Wimpole, in a neglected corner of the shrubbery, there are some interesting architectural structures being developed to encourage the local fauna and improve insect diversity. One of these is a Victorian stumpery and at this time of year the bones of it are nicely visible.
The Stumpery was started in 2013 when a number of beautiful oak tree roots, collected over the years by the forestry team, were heaved into place and inverted to make a new forest of weathered wood.
In the late 19th century there was a craze for collecting ferns. Amateur scientists and plant lovers explored exotic and inaccessible places around the world in their search for new species. These were often then displayed back home in stumperies. Following this trend, beginning last autumn, ferns have been added to the Wimpole Stumpery to clothe the oak trunks. It is on-going project, because many more ferns are needed.
In spring, before the surrounding trees come in to leaf, the Stumpery has a feel of a prehistoric henge or a dinosaurs’ graveyard. It’s a great place to wander.
A little further down the winding, bark path is the so-called Stickery. Bundles of tree trunks and branches have been braced together with old barrel hoops and drilled with hundreds of holes. These are ready to host colonies of mining bees, beetles etc. The bundles have been cut to different lengths and look reminiscent of the basalt columns of the Giants Causeway, County Antrim. Gradually, planting is being added around these features to maximise the nearby nectar supply, fruit and ground cover for the insects making these columns home.