Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Featured Garden-Chanticleer

Put This Garden On Your List of Places to Visit This Summer
About two years ago, I was heading to Longwood Gardens, in Pennsylvania, and a gardening friend said to me..."make sure you stop by Chanticleer, I think you'll love it"  I had heard of Chanticleer but, for one reason or another, it never made my "must visit" list of public gardens.  Not long after that, at a North Hill Symposium, I heard Joe Eck say that he thought Chanticleer was one of the finest gardens in the East.  So, now I was curious.  I soon made arrangements to meet my two daughters there in late July and we spent a wonderful afternoon touring this spectacular pleasure garden.

Chanticleer is located in Wayne, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia.  It was once home to the Rosengarten family.  In the mid 1970's, the family formed a charitable trust that preserved the property and which now manages the endowment.  The Chanticleer Foundation, a non-profit, now owns the 47 acre estate with approximately 31 acres open to the public as a pleasure garden.  The gardens first opened to the public in 1993.

copyright 2011 The Chanticleer Foundation

There are eleven different garden areas on the estate including an extensive woodland garden, a tropical terrace garden, and a ruin garden, designed by Chris Woods and Mara Baird, that incorporates many contemporary features.

The Serpentine
Chanticleer is somewhat unique in that, in many cases, the specifics of the design of each of the garden areas has been largely left to the garden staff.  This eclectic mix of design concepts has not escaped some criticism for the lack of an overarching scheme.  However, I  found that this "mixture of styles" made for some very interesting innovations that would probably never have occurred under the hand of a single garden designer.  There is a paved strolling path connecting all of the garden areas that's wide enough for us slow-pokes to edge our way out of the pedestrian fast lane, and there are many side paths, veering off this "main avenue," inviting the garden visitor to explore each one of the areas in greater detail.

And, speaking of details, one other thing I really appreciated were the number of little kiosks spread around the garden that contained lists of plants for the respective garden areas.  A real help when you encounter that have-to-have plant but can't even identify what family it's in!

House Garden
As a hardscape kind of a guy, one of the things I found most interesting about Chanticleer was the number of unique objects and ornaments, located throughout the garden, that were all hand-crafted by the garden staff; obviously a group of very talented people.  There was detailed stone work (both laid and carved), beautiful wooden and iron gates and archways, gorgeous bridges, and many clever folk-art kiosks and water fountains.  I also loved the artistic way in which paving materials were combined at strategic points throughout the gardens.  By combining a variety of materials that included gravel, granite, wood, bluestone and even clay roofing tiles, in interesting patterns and textures, the designers proved that you can create a dramatic focal point in any garden with a very small amount of material.

I'm putting Chanticleer back on my list of "must see" gardens for this upcoming season.  You might want to pay them a visit, as well.  They are open for the season from March 30th thru October 30th.  And all this garden is for you to enjoy for an admission fee of only $10.  For more information, see their website, here.

For more photos of Chanticleer you can click here or visit the slideshow on Chanticleer in the Features sidebar.

If you have a few minutes, check out the gorgeous floral photos taken at Chanticleer by Byron Varvarigos in the video below.

Also, be on the lookout for Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, by Adrian Higgins with photographs by Rob Cardillo.  Published by The University of Pennsylvania Press, it's due for release April 1, 2011. 

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