Every passage is a destination at Chanticleer
Chanticleer makes each step, each path, a place of discovery and delight. I visited the Philadelphia-area garden on my road trip last fall. This is Part 5 in my series about creative, romantic, stunning-in-every-way Chanticleer.
Guardian of the garden — a big ole praying mantis
Leaving the house garden, you descend a steep hillside via the Elevated Walkway, a gentle, spiraling ramp that floats through a flower garden.
It overlooks the verdant hillside lawn and its luscious, deep borders.
In mid-October, fiery zinnias were still blooming alongside asters, ornamental grasses, and Japanese anemones.
A fuzzy bumblebee worked the asters.
Under its blushing canopy, a Japanese maple seems to fling its limbs like a whirling dervish. The low, triangular structure is an old apple house-turned-playhouse.
Even the handrail spirals around, embracing a flower.
Chanticleer offers many opportunities to sit and just be in the garden.
I usually pick one or two spots to sit for a while, wishing I had the luxury of enough time to try them all.
A mass planting of sorghum bisected by an S-shaped mown path illustrates the beauty of agricultural plants in the Serpentine.
The crop changes from year to year.
Anemones on wiry stems float over a meadowy bed.
An arc of pleached ginkgos traces a low stone wall — so theatrical. I’d love to see this when it turns gold in fall.
Ginkgo and sorghum
I confess this had me fooled. A Mediterranean-looking garden with gnarled old olives, right? Nope! The olive-mimicking trees are silver-leafed willows. Such a clever substitution.
From this angle, though, it does look more like a Whomping Willow.
Next I found the bulb meadow, where autumn-flowering colchicums sparkle like purple stars in a green lawn.
“Daffodils, tulips, and Spanish bluebells grace the hillside in April and May, before fading into the background as the grass begins to lengthen. Later from July through October, surprise lilies (Lycoris) and colchicums each take over the show,” explains the garden’s website.
This is one of the places I chose to sit — off the main path and with a view of the flowering hillside.
Every passage at Chanticleer is a worthy destination.
Chanticleer’s staff famously crafts, during the off-season, useful yet whimsical objects like their plant list boxes. No obtrusive plant labels stuck in the ground here — thank goodness! But who doesn’t want to know the ID of a plant now and then? Voila! The plant list box.
After the dramatic curves of the Serpentine and flowers-in-your-face of the elevated walkway, the contemplative Asian Woods garden is a rest for the eyes. The drama often shows up in paving patterns instead.
“Asian Woods presents the east Asian flora in the style of a woodland garden. Its peak time arguably is spring when epimediums, fairybells, jack-in-the-pulpits, and primroses burst into bloom with the new shoots of hostas, irises, and Chinese gingers. Non-invasive honeysuckles and climbing hydrangeas are encouraged to scale the tree trunks, and bamboos help screen the road from public view. A modest moss garden is a nod to the Japanese tradition. In summer, Asian Woods is a shady refuge that highlights the pleasure of gardening in cool conditions,” explains the website.
Another gorgeous combo with purple toad lily, one of my wish-I-could-grow-it plants.
And now we’re transitioning back into sun and color…
…and water! A large koi pond encircled by lush plantings attracts wildlife and human visitors.
“Floating” pavers cross at narrow spots, and then you’re immersed in pressing plants again.
Koi swam over to say hello. I later read they get fed every afternoon by staff, and it can be quite a spectacle.
Just beyond the pond, a pair of…leopard Adirondacks? Catty fun!
Up a few steps, a stone-pillared, vine-roofed pergola overlooks the pond.
The tall-backed chairs always remind me of thrones. The stone and thrones impart a sense of history and age.
But rectangular planters add a contemporary note.
The autumnal pond view
Next up: The Creek Garden, Bell’s Woodland, and the cutting/vegetable garden at Chanticleer — and my final post in the series. For a look back at the unconventional Chanticleer House garden, click here.
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