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
Surveying the rocky coast on beautiful Chebeague Island in Maine.
Sketching the Rocky Coast of Maine
By Annette Bartlett-Golden
Vivid memories of rocky inlets, the glittering ocean, cool summer breezes and wide blue skies came to me suddenly like the melody from a forgotten sea shanty. Though it had been many years since I last traveled in Maine, the presence and beauty of its rocky coast left an indelible mark on my psyche. A recent family trip to visit my husband's sister and a boyhood friend happily brought me back for a few days.
Noted for its magical quality of light and primal natural beauty, Maine has long been a haven and muse for artists. The American painters Frederick Church, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth of past centuries were all inspired by the Maine landscape which continues to attract artists from all over the world.
©Annette Bartlett-Golden, Sketch at Chibegue Island. Watercolor, 12 x 9 inches.
In addition to enjoying time with family and friends, I also wanted to paint scenes of the rocky coast during this vacation. A day trip by ferry to visit my husband's friend brought us to Chebeague Island in Casco Bay on a beautiful clear August day. With its mix of plentiful rocks and sandy beaches the island offers splendid coastal views. I was delighted to settle down upon a large driftwood log for an hour or so with my watercolors and paint the scene before me en plein air.
Usually I paint indoors in my studio using photos. Painting outdoors from life, en plein air, is a very different way of working ~ it is an immersive experience that requires a direct approach and quick decision making. Often the resulting painting has a unique freshness or raw quality compared to more finished studio work. Painting en plein air was something I had wanted to do for a while so I was thrilled to have the opportunity, particularly in such a fabulous setting. Later, I added a few details to the watercolor sketch I made on Chebeague Island.
An expansive view of the beach on Chebegue Island where I sketched.
The next day after a picnic of Italian subs at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, I begin another watercolor sketch. This time the scene was of garden plantings in the park, a rocky inlet below, the sea, and a thin line of land in the far distance: the view visible from the comfortable picnic table under shady trees where I sat bathed by cool breezes. This expansive coastal scene proved to be more complicated and difficult than the first sketch. I ended up spending a lot of time afterwards finishing it in the studio.
With time, and much practice, my plein air sketches will improve. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the adventure. And I'm planning to return to Maine next summer to continue painting the rocky coast and visit with family and friends.
©Annette Bartlett-Golden, Sketch at Fort Williams.
Watercolor, 12 x 9 inches.
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.