Don’t look now, but the Cantigny Horticulture team is up to some shady business.

The team is applying old tree stumps and large branches to create a new botanic attraction, opening later this year. Instead of carting away the dead wood, the team is creating a “Logarium” near the new Rock Garden, on the south end of the McCormick Allee.

Project champion Landon Gibbs says the idea was inspired by a type of garden born in Victorian England known as a “stumpery”—a display featuring stumps and architectural pieces of wood with complementing shade-loving plants like ferns.

The Logarium—a name suggested by Gibbs’ colleague Chris Patnaude—will be similar, using stumps and trees from Cantigny property as the core structure for highlighting perennials and tropical plants such as ferns, mosses and orchids.

“The intentional arrangement of the logs, root flares and branches adds a sculptural component to the garden, and the eventual greenery and floral components will create a lush, naturalistic display that will feel wild but purposeful,” says Gibbs.

The new attraction aims to highlight rare and native species of perennials while relying heavily on the texture and color from hundreds of ferns and mosses.

Adds Gibbs: “It’s for visual interest, as with our other gardens, but the Logarium’s main function is to provide habitat for shade and woodland plants that would be difficult to grow in other garden areas. We’ll also have plants and ephemerals that will provide early food sources for pollinators.”

The Logarium will need time to reach the desired visual impact—perhaps three or four years. Consistent watering and a productive soil mix will help speed the process, Gibbs says, and large tropical plants will be placed initially to achieve the desired greenery as the perennials mature.

Members of Cantigny Horticulture pose at the Logarium site in February. Project champion Landon Gibbs is holding the axe.

Stumps and large branches from the Cantigny property serve as the Logarium’s structural core, around which shade-loving ferns, mosses and orchids will thrive. For perspective, note McCormick House to the north, in the upper left corner.

Cantigny’s Logarium was inspired by “stumpery” gardens such as this one in England.



Posted by Jeff Reiter

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