The first planting


Too late to plant the meadow with seeds (and there’s a big bonfire to burn before any seeding can take place). The top photo is taken from the top of the bonfire.

But there was still time this weekend to plant the first 100 daffodils. Deer hunting season has started (and the first hunting accident where one hunter shot another by mistake has already happened) so I’m wearing my Chic Rural  Autumn Paraphenalia (CRAP) blaze orange.

My planting plan for the meadow is to give it a geometric spring planting. The summer planting that will take over will be drift-planted wildflowers and other perennials. I’m collecting bulbs and seeds as bargains present themselves, and I plan to start some serious propagation next year.

This is the first yellow circle of naturalising daffodil bulbs were a birthday present from my sister and my mum.

Stump Lump stroll in the snow



The beginnings of a meadow

The oaks and Contemplation Rock

After the careful planning of the driveway route, following old stone walls and curving towards what will one day be the house site, I turned my thoughts to a meadow.

David was keen to have a cleared meadow area, somewhere in the 126 acres of woods. We both love meadows. The use of ‘patch’ cuts in woodlands as a way of increasing ecological diversity was interesting, and we have areas badly damaged by decades of storms.

Towards the end of the driveway is one such area and during the days I spent clambering through the woods over dead trees, and through undergrowth in the few light areas, I gradually traced and uncovered walls that surrounded (almost) a potential meadow area. About one third of an acre is surrounded by  a low ‘tossed’ wall. This unusually small sized enclosure had a lot of dead pines and those not dead had their tops broken off by old storms and winds. By contrast a handful of oaks were undamaged.

Beneath the oaks (which were fairly close together) lay a granite boulder. The oaks and boulder made a great ‘focal point’. My plan started to take shape.

We talked the meadow idea through with The Poet Logger (Ben Feeney). He immediately named the boulder “Contemplation Rock” and he had a story to go with it. The small overall area and high location suggested to him that this was once a ‘night pasture’ a place where a flock could be held, fairly tightly packed, and protected from predators overnight. He imagined a shepherd sitting under the oaks on the rock, contemplating his flock and the moon!

Luckily, Ben’s logging skills are as rich as his imagination, he cleared  the area and Jason Bell did a lovely job of removing the stumps (you know where they went!) and gently leveling the meadow site. Here it is, beautiful in the mist. Again, finished too late to seed. Also there is a big heap of material readied for a bonfire that needs to be burned  before a meadow can be planted. We are waiting for the snow before we burn as it helps protect against forest fires.

We’ll be ready to seed it in the spring.

Stump spiral: constructed

Baking in the August sun

Close up of the roots


After halting work and waiting for the rains to stop and the ground to dry out, the spiral is finished (in terms of earth moving).

Each stump has been picked up with the excavator and shaken to dislodge most of the earth from the root system.

Then the stumps were carefully placed with the roots facing out, all around the spiral, as it was built.

As climate, time and money allow, I will put native plants in amongst the roots. It’s too late to plant or seed now, the first frost will be here any night. The walking surface will be cleared of all the sticks left after the excavator leveled it. As soon as possible I’ll seed it and plant the edges of the path – to make it narrower – more of a walking path. The plants
will help bind the top and prevent erosion and the placing of plants will keep people away from the edges.

I’d like to plant wildflowers on the ground around the spiral (and I think a temporary fence will be needed to make sure no-one snowmobiles up it!)

No  money for this now, wonder what will be on my Christmas list!? Seeds, posts and rails!

Inhabiting the spiral

Snake spotted by 7 year old nephew. No, you can't pick it up and take it home...

Deer tracks around the spiral


Before it was finished, the creatures started to move in. The first one we noticed was this snake. Skinny and well camoflagued against the raw earth and roots. Archie (aged 7) saw it first and subsequently we’ve seen it on many sunny days.

During the same visit, a few steps further on we found these tracks and realised that the deer had already been inspecting our work. Over the next few weeks we would see their tracks gradually further and further up the spiral trail.

But so far the deer have not been all the way to the top.

The stump spiral makes me happy

I love it!

There’s something unerringly exciting about turning the corner and seeing it (even though I know it’s there).

Something joyful about the angle of the slope. Makes me want to run, every time. I want to be doing this when I’m 50, 60, 70 and 80 years old.

Over the summer many nights I dreamt about . . . → Read More: The stump spiral makes me happy

The stump spiral: nearly done but muddy

In mid August the spiral was almost done but the mud was deep

It was surprisingly muddy and my brother-in-law was visiting from the UK.

It was as if the stump lump ‘knew’ of his belief that the making of the spiral was (another) sign of my madness. The spiral wanted to retaliate . . . → Read More: The stump spiral: nearly done but muddy

Building the stump spiral: part 1

A 100 ft diameter clearing was made in a section of woods that had tree damage.

The spiral was marked out by Jason (some serious geometry!)

At its center we placed a big pile of New Hampshire granite. All these rocks (and more) were excavated as the driveway was leveled, filled and finished.

Stumps were . . . → Read More: Building the stump spiral: part 1

Summer 2011: spiraling out of control?

So, no new blog posts since spring… But that does not mean that The Gunnison Lot was quiet and still.

Firstly, throughout the summer (between torrential rain storms, tropical storms and other deluges) the driveway was finessed (more on that later).

Secondly, the stump lump became a stump spiral. For me this was one of the high-points of . . . → Read More: Summer 2011: spiraling out of control?

Stumperies: Wot?!

Part of the stumpery at Highgrove, Prince Charles' garden.

For many years I’ve dreamed of gardening with tree stumps, but my dreams were dashed by a couple of obstacles: I never had a garden big enough, or any stumps to work with. Now, living in an American State that is predominantly wooded I have my chance!

I . . . → Read More: Stumperies: Wot?!