The stump in the stump garden has been bugging me.
When the tree guys cut this broken oak tree last summer, leaving me a stump as instructed, they didn’t make an even cut.
It seemed trivial at the time, given the enormous task of cleaning up the mess three downed oak trees left in our front garden, and restoring what we could of what little was left behind. I planted up a large glazed ceramic pot and we balanced it on the uneven stump last summer, just to try to make things look a little better. I knew we needed to do better this summer.
We’ve worked on this area ever since, building up the Hugelkultur bed around the stump, planting the bed, pruning away dead wood from the shrubs, repairing the deer fences and spreading mulch.
The entire area looks worlds better, but there was still the issue of the uneven stump.
I decided back in the winter to make a new, much larger pot for this stump from Hypertufa; and I ordered a Brugmansia, “Cherub,” which will grow very tall, to grow in the large pot. I expect a 5′-7′ tall shrub covered in huge, pendulous fragrant flowers growing from the new pot on the stump by late August.
But there was still the small matter of the uneven cut on top of the stump. And the even uglier matter of the missing bark. Left as it was, I knew rot would set in, and soon this pedestal would begin disintegrating.
I decided to transform the stump into a work of art; a fitting pedestal for the beautiful hypertufa pot and blossom covered Brugmansia.
Using a fairly wet hypertufa blend, I first covered the entire top of the stump, leveling it out as much as possible. The top is decorated with bits of glass. I expect the glass to help hold and stabilize the pot, holding it up a little to allow for drainage.
After the top had a chance to set up, I came back with a second batch of hypertufa to address the torn and peeling bark. I was careful to seal the top edge of the bark all the way around the stump under a coating of the concrete hypertufa mixture.
The top was already dry to the touch when I finished the patch on the side. We’ve had a bright and windy day, which has helped the concrete to set up quickly.
I’ll give the stump a good 36 to 48 hours to dry before placing the pot on its new pedestal, where it can remain indefinitely.
The tiny Brugmansia start grows now from the center of the pot. It is flanked with Dusty Miller on the ends, and sun tolerant Coleus on the sides.
All of these plants, except the Sedums and Creeping Jenny, will grow at least 18″ tall, helping to hide the “knees” of the Brugmansia as it grows.
These plants will do well in full sun to partial shade. These plants are a mix of annuals and perennials. The Brugmansia is rated to Zone 8, so I’ll most likely cut the plants back in late autumn, and bring the pot inside for winter.
Creeping Jenny and cuttings of two different Sedums will fill in around the base of the Brugmansia to cover the soil, helping to hold in moisture. The Creeping Jenny will trail down the sides of the pot, tying it visually to the stump and garden below.
Brugmansia is a heavy feeder and needs daily water. I mixed a good handful of Plant Tone fertilizer into the soil before planting. I’ll top the soil with some Osmocote, and a pea gravel mulch once the pot is lifted into place on its stump pedestal on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how the hypertufa and the wood come together over time, as the concrete cures. I expect this will prolong the useful life of the stump indefinitely, keeping moisture and bacteria out of the wood.
I expect this to be a beautiful focal point, visible from both the street and the house.
All of my plantings in this front area this season are chosen with their size in mind. I’ve chosen large plants, with the expectation that they will create a lovely display, and re-create some of the the privacy we lost when our trees fell last summer.
Even though these plants are tiny now, they will grow quickly to fill the pot. This should be a beautiful summer display of interesting foliage, with flowers developing by late summer.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014