Chanticleer 2013

Last Thursday I made a trip down to Chanticleer Gardens, a “pleasure garden” located just West of Philadelphia PA.  I’m glossing over much of the history, but basically it’s the 1913 former summer estate turned full time home of Adolph Rosengarten and his wife Christine.  As family members passed away and moved on the Chanticleer Foundation was formed and the property became a public garden.  This year marked the 100th anniversary for the property, but the public incarnation is still relatively young, having been formed in 1993.  I don’t have many garden visits under my belt, but Chanticleer ranks as one of the best public gardens in the US and I could really see the reasons why.

Here we go!  After a drive of just under two hours, please excuse me for making the restrooms my first stop.attractive courtyard at chanticleer

Even the restrooms are a plant lover’s treat with unique varieties, creative uses and just plain artistic furniture and pottery.  I had plenty of room for myself since the hot, muggy, overcast weekday didn’t really bring out a stampede of garden visitors.  Good thing too, since I made the trip alone and my stupid grin and plant touching probably would have had me escorted out on a crowded day.

The first official garden was the ‘teacup’ garden.  It fills the patio right off the house and I love all the gate and bench details leading into it.chanticleer courtyard gate

The teacup garden is named for the central fountain.  Each year this garden is redone with a totally different feel and this year seems to be leaning towards an orange theme.chanticleer teacup garden

There are so many special plants here, and orange never looked better.  Many of these are tropicals and if you look closely you might notice the upright orange leaves producing a small pink pineapple near the front.   chanticleer teacup garden

There’s so much texture and subtle color going on.  One of the many plants I loved was this melianthus (honeybush).  I feel a little foolish for letting my little 6 inch seed grown plant die outside last winter, had I seen the real thing first I probably would have found a winter home for it.melianthus honey bush

I don’t think I could have found a spot for this big pot of variegated New Zealand flax.chanticleer potted new zealand flax

Few of the plants have labels in this ‘pleasure garden’, it really is meant to be enjoyed, but I did scare myself realizing how many things I recognized…. apparently I spend way too much time on the web looking at plants….

Check out the railing here -and the container plantings aren’t too shabby either.  The banana growing up alongside the house is the (I think) surprisingly hardy musa basjoo which even I can even overwinter in my much colder zone.  The tall white variegated grass (arundo donax) is also hardy.  I have both in my own garden, of course they look nowhere near as well grown or well placed 🙂chanticleer artistic railing

Continuing around the house are beds just flooded with cool tropicals and hardy perennials.  Here’s number two cool plant leaf that I want, it’s the rice paper plant (tetrapanax).  Big leaves that start out fuzzy, what’s not to love?chanticleer rice paper plant tetrapanax

More foliage along the path.   I have no idea, but the yellow veins of it matched the ivy creeping along the ground.  Fancy.  You can also see some of the many seats scattered around the grounds.  In my opinion gardens are always best viewed from a comfortable seat!chanticleer path

Here’s another nice seating area.chanticleer seating area

I believe the three dark green plants along the walk are samples of the infamous breadfruit tree.  Maybe it’s just the result of a few too many childhood viewings of “Mutiny on the Bounty” (The 1962 Marlon Brando version) but I think this food staple of the Pacific is a fascinating plant.  This plant was the reason Captain Bligh was commissioned to sail to Tahiti in the first place, and this is also the plant thrown overboard when the mutiny takes place.  chanticleer variegated boston fernBesides Captain Bligh’s survival story, the story of the mutineers and their descendants on tiny Pitcairn island is also quite a tale.  They still live on today as a British territory.

Less contentious is the yellow-green underplanting of variegated boston fern, hakonechloa grass, and others.  I’ve heard people say you shouldn’t mix variegated plants, but here I think that theory expires.

Oh, and if all that’s not enough, the glass topped table is actually a terrarium 🙂chanticleer seat with terarrium

Ok, so that might be enough for today since WordPress has locked up twice and both times I had to redo what was lost.  Next stop is the former tennis courts….. tennis has never looked so good.

5 comments on “Chanticleer 2013

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Chanticleer looks like a must-see garden. Thanks for sharing your impressions and photos. I like the idea of the terrarium table.

    • bittster says:

      There’s still much more to follow! I almost feel like I need to apologize in advance for the overkill, but it’s just the kind of planting style I really like and I really did enjoy my visit.

  2. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    Nice photos of your tour. I go every year in Spring and there is always something different to see each time. I never stopped in the restrooms though. I will have to see them when I visit this Fall. It will be my second fall visit.

  3. bittster says:

    It’s great you can get down there as often as you do. I feel silly that I live closer and don’t get down as much, and also haven’t been to many of the other great gardens down there.
    I wouldn’t mind another visit later this year. I hear they have a lot of colchicums in the lawns and I know all the summer plantings will be that much bigger… I think you’ll have a great show. Funny how it manages to look different each time, they make so many changes year to year, it really keeps things interesting.

  4. […] didn’t realize it’s been two years since I last visited (click here to see that very pintrest-popular post), and I’m glad to have had the chance to do it again.  The gardens are on a scale that […]

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