Chanticleer, the pleasure garden

Chanticleer is one of the great gardens of the Philadelphia region.  The garden first opened to the public in 1993 and is a “must go” desitnation.  If you haven’t already been there, add it to your bucket list right now.  Go on, I’ll wait.
During a recent visit I was able to see why it has been affectionately called a “pleasure garden.” How can you not be awed by many beautiful sweeps of color, artfully created vignettes, and structural elements designed by Chanticleer’s 14 gardeners and groundskeepers, artists in their own right. Chanticleer is truly “planted to perfection.”
The Chanticleer
estate dates from the early 20th-century, when land along the Main Line of the
Pennsylvania Railroad was developed for summer homes to escape the heat of
Philadelphia. Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., and his wife Christine chose the
Wayne-St. Davids area to build their country retreat. The family’s
pharmaceutical firm would become part of Merck in the 1920s. I’m
sure the garden was amazing then, but as my pictures are sure to show, the
gardens are breathtaking now!

Contrasting masses
of tulips caressed the house and invited visitors to linger

Hard edges were softened with climbing vines, like this hydrangea

Black pots set into a bed added height and contrast

The pool house was accented by a white garden of tulips and foxgloves

Of the many things I enjoyed during my visit to Chanticleer, I would have to say the use of containers was one of the standouts.  Containers were used on their own as focal points, they were filled to the brim with specimen plants, and they were used as garden sculpture to create vignettes that accented the surrounding landscape.

Even broken pots were used creatively, in this case as a rock garden

This pot was the focal point, set on a carpet of blue and yellow

Pieces of slate were used to create these patio containers

Natural materials made this container extra-special

Another special feature of Chanticleer was the masterful use of color in the landscape, which was inviting and inspiring.  Fields of color were accented by specimen plants.  Repetition of color was used to guide your view across the vast landscape.  Seating areas were placed perfectly, encouraging visitors to stop and enjoy. 

The foliage and white flowers stood out against the field of phlox

A field of violet-blue Camassia accented by a bright green chair

The wisteria and allium balanced each other perfectly

A stone seating area near the ruin garden

Everyone knows that water in the landscape adds dimension to an outdoor space.  Whether you are trying to muffle the sounds of nearby traffic, add tranquility to your garden, or provide a habitat for a collection of koi, water features are an important part of landscape design.  I wasn’t surprised to see that Chanticleer had mastered the use of water in the garden as well.

A waterfall cascaded over a stone wall
A dining room table of sorts was used to create an interactive water feature

There is nothing quite as satisfying as playing in the water

A serpentine stream

The last magical feature of Chanticleer I want to highlight is the use of structure. The ruin garden consisted of multiple garden rooms made of stone walls, while an outdoor patio area was adorned with a cathedral-like arch that served as an entry gate.  As you would expect, Chanticleer showcased many garden rooms for visitors to enjoy.

This wooden arch served as a garden gate to the seating area

Wisteria draped over a patio to create a sense of enclosure

As I am sure you can tell, I could go on and on about Chanticleer and what a wonderful place it is.  So here’s your call to action….go there.  Don’t make excuses, don’t say next year, don’t say you have too many other priorities.  Just make a commitment to yourself to go.  Go for a walk, go for a picnic, go study the plant lists or go sit yourself down in one of the many seating areas and enjoy life.  You can thank me later…and I know you will!

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