The Tennis Court Garden showcases a vibrant display of hardy perennials at Chanticleer Garden.
A Visit to Chanticleer Garden
By Annette Bartlett-Garden
Nestled among emerald rolling hills just west of Philadelphia, Chanticleer Garden is a delightful botanical gem. Scrupulously tended, imaginatively designed, and teeming with inspiration it is one of America’s best public gardens. At just under fifty acres, Chanticleer is small, especially compared to grand gardens, such as nearby Longwood, which amaze with their size. However, Chanticleer’s charm and appeal lies in its intimate scale and exciting plantings that create a welcoming, romantic, and relaxing atmosphere.
I learned about this delightful garden from my son who had visited there briefly with his university Horticulture Club. So on the way to our family vacation up north we made a point to stop and visit. Because of its size, I looked forward to really exploring all of the major areas of the garden which are located at various points along a mile long path. They include Chanticleer House, Teacup Garden, the Ruin, Asian Woods, and Gravel Garden, as well as many more. Encompassing shady areas and hot sunny spots, high hills and lower places, meadows, woods, a pond and streams, Chanticleer is a place of surprising diversity and contrast, I discovered.
A dark pool reflects the sky and the unusual shapes of the Ruin.
Left: Open to the hot summer sun, the Gravel Garden features interesting cacti and Mediterranean specimens. Right: A pastoral quality prevails in this view of mature trees atop a hill and meadow plantings below, near Chanticleer House.
Intrigued by the diversity, I wondered how it was achieved. "There are seven Horticulturists, each responsible for the design, planting, and maintenance of an area. The areas are continually evolving, each with its own feel, yet joined together as one complete unit, “explains the chanticleer website. It's also helpful to understand how much work and care an outstanding garden requires and I was especially curious about this one. I learned that there are fourteen full-time year-round gardeners and groundskeepers plus six other full-time staff member. In summer, the number of staff members doubles and includes interns and exchange gardeners. During the winter, year round staff members build and create furniture from wood harvested on the property, and construct fences, bridges, drinking fountains and other decorative touches.Throughout my visit, there were staff gardeners available to speak with about any aspect of the garden.
The bold colors and textures of the Teacup Garden at Chanticleer.
Flowers petals in a bowl of water and a hand crafted whimsical garden gate add charm to the entry of the Teacup Garden.
My favorite spot, and the part I found the most inspirational, is the teacup Garden. As the Chanticleer Garden website explains, “The Teacup Garden and Chanticleer Terraces feature seasonal plants and bold-textured tropical and subtropical plants. These areas change greatly from year to year. Non-hardy plants overwinter in greenhouses and basements.” It’s an area of lush, colorful plantings that use foliage as much as flowers to create vibrant borders. I especially loved the combination of banana plant leaves with the sizzling red of hibiscus flowers, and other exotic looking plants. As it happens, there are cold hardy bananas and also cold hardy hibiscus varieties. Another lovely idea for just about all gardeners were the gorgeous bowls of water with floating flower petals placed in various spots near the houses on the property. With great ideas for plant combinations and decorative touches I can put in my own garden, visiting Chanticleer was both a pleasure and an inspiration!
~To learn more about Chanticleer Garden, including plant lists and videos, go to: chanticleergarden.org
Annette Bartlett-Golden paints a wide range of subjects from landscapes to animals and makes abstract works with paper. Using vibrant colors, she imparts a sense of immediacy, vivacity and optimism to her paintings and paper collages.