September 9th, 2002
The Stump Garden

photo: stump garden
2002-09-09. Oxblood lilies and garlic chives blooming in the stump garden.

I began the stump garden on April 29th of this year to solve several other problems. First, I needed to move bulbs from an area which I had used as a nursery but which is slated to be a patio. I decided to move them to a wild spot under a cedar elm tree on the edge of the lawn in the back. That spot is too dark for most wildflowers and the shallow roots of the cedar elm suck moisture and nutrients from the ground, making the soil very poor indeed. Worse, the site is on a slope, so the water tends to runoff rather than soak in.

The other problem was I have a lot of bits of sawn tree trunk leftover from the tree which fell on our garage last November. I decided to use some of these pieces to create a structure on the slope and plant bulbs and other shade-loving plants between them. I placed the tree trunks close enough together that I can jump from one to another to water or weed. Then I planted garlic chives and oxblood lilies which bloom together in the fall; the rest of the year the garden would be various textures of green from palm grass, liriope, monkey grass, and ferns.

Last weekend our first fall downpour, a gift from tropical storm Fay, caused all the oxblood lilies to burst into bloom this week. The effect is better than I ever hoped it would be. But although the flowers will fade in a week or so, the arrangement of stumps provides a structure that has made this little garden pleasant all summer.

by M Sinclair Stevens

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