A hot day in Philly

The calendar is beginning to insist that all things summer will soon come to an end, so when a free day presented itself I made my best to take advantage of the last weeks of warmth.  A quick call to a friend near Phillidelphia and I was on my way to one of my favorite gardens, Chanticleer.  As usual the visit did not disappoint, and despite a mental note to just enjoy the visit I did break down at the end and went a little camera happy.  Hopefully I can show some restraint with the length of this post even if I couldn’t with the camera.

chanticleer red border

Red and purple as you come around the house. Coleus ‘redhead’ and the awesome canna x ehemanii… rounded out with a few random bananas.

I like to stroll around pretending this is my own estate, and if by chance if I do win millions (I’ve given up on earning them through hard work, marriage, or genius) I feel like this is the kind of garden I’d create.

chanticleer container plantings

Many exotic and unusual container plants are scattered around the house and terraces. All appear perfectly grown and cared for.

The tropical plantings around the house are some of my favorite plantings, although even away from the house a random banana or elephant ear may turn up (Chanticleer refers to itself as a ‘pleasure garden’… so I guess anything goes!)

teacup garden chanticleer

This year’s teacup garden plantings. Fiddlehead figs and canna ‘Ermine?’, plus many others.

I’m guessing on almost all the IDs since the gardens are for enjoyment and inspirations and not so much for the down to earth realities of botanical labeling, but there are plant lists available both in the gardens and online.  I apologize for being too distracted to look while there and far too lazy now to look them up online.

papyrus chanticleer

Potted dwarf giant papyrus. I love the pot in pot planting with a ‘groundcover’ of duckweed, and I’d love to imitate, but… no pot and no dwarf giant papyrus.  Maybe the plain old giant papyrus will work,  at least that’s finally become easy to find in the spring.

I can feel the banana itch coming back.  I was given one and bought another this summer….

chanticleer tropicalismo

Canna x ehemanii, various bananas, red and purple dahlias, and a few tall salvia splendens varieties.

…and how can you not like dahlias at this time of year.

chanticleer mixed border

A respectable boxwood border holding back a wave of visitors from the south.

On a hot day the dry, full sun, gravel garden was not the place to linger… but we did, and while sweat beaded we enjoyed the waterwise plantings and the mix of dryland perennials and tropical cactus and succulents.

chanticleer gravel garden

I think the yucca rostrada (hardiest of the trunk forming yuccas) stays here year round, but I’m not sure of the agave.  I do know I wouldn’t want to be the one to lift it come autumn.

All the rain earlier in the year probably helped most things, but some I’m sure didn’t appreciate the reminder they were in Pennsylvania and not Southern California.

artichoke bloom

Artichoke blooms?  Not the best leaf-wise, but the color of the flowers almost glowed in the heat.

Or South Africa…

chanticleer kniphofia

Kniphofia (a species I’m guessing) along the dry slope.  I love this plant family, but never get decent flowers on the ones I’m growing.

The bulk of the grounds around the house are open grass and trees, and this was the beginning of the colchicum season.

chanticleer naturalized colchicums

Some of the colchicums just beginning to bloom in the lawn at Chanticleer.  Form what I’ve heard there are many more to come.

And then there were the pond gardens…

chanticleer koi

Chanticleer koi

With lotus and water lilies.

chanticleer lotus bud

One of many lotus flowers.  My photos never do the blooms justice.

And then there was the cutting garden.  My favorite canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ (Pretoria) was the star, and in my opinion everything looks better when it’s next to this beauty.

chanticleer canna pretoria

The cutting garden.  Summer annuals, dahlias and cannas were at their peak.

It’s just pictures from here on.

chanticleer cosmos

Cosmos and dahlias with canna leaves.

chanticleer cutting garden

The beds threaten to swamp you in a tsunami of plants.  Still to come were all the hardy sunflowers and other native prairie plants which filled the inner portions of the bed.

dahlias chanticleer

Dahlia with gomphrena ‘fireworks’ (I think)

dahlias chanticleer

Dahlias again (it’s the season!) plus more awesome canna leaves. I think the ferny foliage belongs to the SE native dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium).

dahlias chanticleer

Nice right?

chanticleer summer flowers

Summer zinnas and cosmos. Who says fall is near?

I 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 really seems approachable, yet aren’t filled with how-to beds or dull bedding.  It’s really a place where you can enjoy the art of gardening,  and if you get the chance I would absolutely recommend a visit, but for those further afield there’s also hope.  September 23rd marks the release date for a new Timber Press book on the gardens and I for one am looking forward to it.  It has an excellent pedigree across publisher, author, and photographer and what I’m most looking forward to are the interviews with each area gardener.  I saw them at work during our visit but was a little too shy to bother them with an endless gushing of praise or question after question.  Hopefully the new book will pacify me. 🙂

Thanks for meeting me there Paula, and I wish everyone a great week!

Chanticleer (part 3 of 3)

Finally!  The last part of my Chanticleer visit.  I suspect I might have gone on a little too long over my visit, but I really did enjoy the trip and the gardens are just the type of plantings I like to see at this time of year.  Lush healthy tropical plants putting on their last big hurrah before the first frost cuts them down.  Plus I like to use this blog as a photo record of the year, and I’m sure these images will come in handy during the icy days of winter.

Here’s the last big stop of the tour, the terrace gardens surrounding the main Chanticleer house.  As usual it’s a dose of reality when I see plants from my own garden used to so much better effect.  The Japanese maple, variegated Pagoda dogwood “Golden Shadows”, blue ageratum and “limelight” four o’clock near the path…. all look a lot nicer here!chanticleer terrace gardenI’m sure a terrace of bluestone pathways and stone steps would help my garden design immensely, but even the bronze fennel, dahlias, and verbena bonariensis look dreamier and fresher here.  The blue of the spiky agave helps too…. hmmm I grow that as well.  It’s sitting under the deck in a broken clay pot, wishing it were at Chanticleer.chanticleer dahlias in bloom with japanese maple

The boxwood hedge which I’ve planted around my vegetable garden still needs several years before it reaches this immaculately trimmed state.  I like a nice boxwood edging, I think it’s worth the extra work of frequent trimming, and adds a nice touch of control to a bed that might otherwise look to be on the verge of messy.

chanticleer boxwood edged flower bed

chanticleer bed of nails solanumOnce my own boxwoods turn into a neat hedge I might start to refer to the vegetable garden as a ‘potager’.  Sounds so much more refined 🙂 .  But I might opt out on planting the prickly ‘bed of nails plant’ (solanum quitoense) in the potager.  Although it’s a near relative of eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, the spiny leaves might be better suited for a focal spot out front (I love the poky plants!)

‘Black Pearl’  ornamental peppers also look great right up against the hedge, and these could easily fit into my future potager.

chanticleer purple ornamental pepperIf you’re interested in reading a little more about these plants and some of the thoughts behind the plantings, check out this link at the Hardy Plant Society.  Jonathan Wright, the horticulturalist in charge of this part of the garden, wrote a great article on this area and some of the practices used to keep it looking at its peak from March into November.

Still in the terrace garden was something new that I liked.  An area formerly kept as a cut lawn had been turned over to a flowery meadow of fluffy little red amilias, red dahlias, and violet verbena boanariensis.  I wonder if this section will hold over to next year,  the grass was boring, but it did give a bit of a calm amidst all the overflowing beds.chanticleer red and violet meadow planting

The area around the house is absolutely crammed with treasures and accents.  These huge baskets have more in them than most average gardens.chanticleer hanging baskets

And of course there were plenty of seating areas surrounding the house.  A great place to stop for a needed break.chanticleer terrace seating

chanticleer chartreuse and yellow plantsWith reds and purples and bronzes dominating some of the other gardens, here the terrace garden leans towards yellows and yellow foliage.  I have a real weakness for this color lately and loved the mix.  Too bad I had no idea what half the plants were!  The best I can do is say the little vine here is probably canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) a relative of the nasturtiums.  It’s supposed to be easy from seed so maybe……

Back to red and purple.  The purplish upright dracaena is again one I have, and I will definitely copy this combo with the red leaved coleus.chanticleer red and purple plant combinations

chanticleer ae ae bananaI’m almost through my picture horde.

One more here for banana lovers.  I believe this is the infamous ‘Ae Ae’ variegated banana.  First found in Hawaii, it’s a little cranky to grow and therefore a little expensive to buy.  Established pups (offshoots of the mother plant) typically run $200-$300 and fraud runs rampant.  Don’t buy seeds and don’t buy from a shifty Georgia nursery is all I’ll say (not that I’ve ever considered it).  The leaves are really cool looking though and to have it flanking both sides of the main doorway…..

I’ll stick to my yellows and chartreuse.  Here’s a yellow leaved redbud, potted ‘mossy’ plants and a circle of raked gravel.  Very calming.chanticleer raked gravel entry

chanticleer blue seatsAnd so on to the exit.  No time to sit, but there was still ample color coordinated seating.  I bet someone has fun moving the seats about finding them the perfect spot, a good idea I think.  I should keep it in mind next time I’m moving stuff to bring the lawn mower through… not that my dead grass ever needs mowing.chanticleer seating

Out the front gate.  It’s a beautiful locale and I wouldn’t mind living closer, but I have to question whether our housing budget can handle the zipcode.  A quick real estate search of Wayne, Pa shows it to be a tad out of our budget.  Even with the sale of our current house, just the down payment  for properties running in the 1-5 million range would be an issue.  I guess we could lower our expectations, but I want the hayfield too. 🙂chanticleer neighborhood  Thanks for looking!

Chanticleer (pt 2 of 3)

It’s been longer than I planned, but here’s the continuation of my Chanticleer visit.  Part 2 of the visit picks up at the tennis courts, a part of the gardens who’s former function should be obvious!chanticleer tennis court gardens

The flat area that used to function as the court has been turned into a group of five beds filled with all sorts of interesting plants.  My favorite was this one which leans towards a yellow theme.  A redbud with yellowish foliage anchors the bed and a nice clump of the tall variegated arundo donax grass is peeking out from behind.  For a late season garden it still looks good.

chanticleer tennis court gardenThere was plenty going on around the garden with cleanup and cutting back,  I don’t know how it is on other weekdays but during my visit the place was buzzing with garden staff.  Here’s another view with a nice banana, some of the annual purple perillia, and a couple of those dead looking brown sedges.  Grasses and sedges seem well used around Chanticleer and they do add long season airiness and texture. chanticleer bananas and perillia

Beyond the courts is the cutting garden.  The Chanticleer interpretation is more like a wild ocean of frothy flowers, some of which top out at over 10 feet!  A cool garden to wander through since it comes in on you from all sides.  You can just make out the asparagus hedge that closes in the right side here.chanticleer cutting garden

A little structure in this garden is given by the archways.  I’m stealing this idea since it’s not tough to copy.  A rebar arch forms the basis while vines and branches are twisted around…. since I already have the rebar arch set up, no problem-o on twisting some twigs around!chanticleer garden arch

The tall orange sunflower-ish plants are the annual tithonia.  It’s supposed to be easy from seed but I’ve never had much luck.  It sure did well here though.

This path leads to a small fenced in vegetable garden, a nice little spot to take a breather on one of the vegetable themed benches.  For as wild and bloomy as the cutting garden is, there were still a ton of late bloomers left to come, so I bet this garden comes to a peak in about another month…. in case you’re still considering a visit!chanticleer arch and vegetable garden

A relaxer next.  A woodland section called Bell’s Woods is a streamside collection of North American plantings.  Even though it probably peaks in the spring there were still plenty of cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) in bloom.  It’s a nice soft stroll since the “wood path”  is actually a soft rubber mat that looks like wood chips…. or at least that’s what I read… even after being told, I still thought they looked like shredded bark!chanticleer cardinal flower (lobelia)

Throughout the gardens are bits of functional art such as chairs, railings, and this metal “hollow log” bridge.chanticleer log bridge

Even though Chanticleer is a relatively small garden and heavily planted, there are still plenty of restful areas, many of which have a nice seat and an excuse to linger.chanticleer reflecting pond

And nearly all are somehow color coordinated!chanticleer red seat

Around the red chair you can see some clumps of prairie dropseed.  It’s a native grass used as a kind of lawn replacement for many of the open areas beyond Bell’s Wood.  It’s also probably my least favorite of the plantings here since I just can’t get past what Wikipedia refers to as a “vague scent of popcorn, cilantro, or sunflower seeds”.  I just call it stink, and forgive me if we skip this and the ruins garden and head straight to the gravel garden.chanticleer gravel garden

The gravel garden is a very un-Pennsylvania bit of sloped, well-draining garden that is filled with plants better suited to a more Mediterranean type environment.  It’s a bit of surprise to see hardy cacti, yuccas, and agaves this far north, but apparently they like the winter drainage.

The gravel garden tumbles down to the antithesis of good drainage, the pond garden.chanticleer waterlily pond I love a nice pond (unlike my pathetic leaky pre-formed) and this one is just surrounded with a nearly wild planting of moisture loving growth.  Well fed Koi are always fun too.chanticleer koi

chanticleer pink waterlilyI loved the pond gardens.  If I had more room a big waterlily pond would be near the top of the want list.  Waterlilies are just so saturated with color, so waxy and lush, that they just draw you in.  This one was nice and close to the pond edge.

My want list also got a new plant added.  This yellow hollyhock looking plant is abelmoschus manihot, an annual that I eliminated from a seed order last winter and now wish I hadn’t.  It’s sometimes referred to as sunset hibiscus, but it’s actually a close okra relative… that means nothing to a Yankee like myself, but southerners may weigh in on that!chanticleer abelmoschus manihot

I think I’m about to overdo the pictures here, but there was so much to see.  The bottom pond was given over nearly entirely to sacred lotus.  Lotus is so cool in the way the leaves stand up above the water, the oversize leaves and blooms, the water beading leaf surface, the shower head seed pods….  You know if I had the room I’d grow this one too!chanticleer lotus pond

Asian woods next.  Restful and green…. too many pictures already so I’ll move on!chanticleer asian woods

chanticleer art waterfountainI was a little thirsty and just had to stop at this.  Every little bit of this garden is thought out and then re-thought out and it shows up in all the little flourishes and details.

My last stop on the Chanticleer tour was a stroll around the terraces of the main house.  If you thought this post was picture overkill there’s still more to come.  The terraces contain all the stuff I really go for like bold colors, overplanted beds, fat container plantings, and tons of tropicals.  Hang in there, it’s the last Chanticleer post! chanticleer terrace