Chanticleer - A Personal Garden
A Private Garden...
I envy writers who can describe great gardens well, bringing them to life with inspired words and phrases. I've finally met a 'great garden', and I've been putting off the wordy moment. It's Chanticleer, near Philadelphia, north-eastern USA.
A 'So-Close-Must-See' Garden
Aargh! Chanticleer! I was on a short holiday in in Washington DC, and you were only 140 miles away, recommended (no - that's far too tame) by a gardening friend as a 'so-close-must-see' garden.
And were you worth the trip? Absolutely, emphatically, yes, yes, yes. I was inspired for days afterwards, dreamily remembering things I'd seen, and liked. I still am.
Chanticleer - Personal and Appealing
My visit wasn't orderly and well-organised - the garden made instant, personal connections, appealing to my random, grasshopper mind. I photographed everything, from the vegetables in the coutryard pots (just wonderful) to the elegant sepentine perennial bed. I have the barest of scribbly notes.
Alliums at Chanticleer Gardens
So forgive me if I write about my garden visit to Chanticleer in a personal way. I've grouped my waffly responses into things I liked, things I want, and things I'm left wondering about. Perhaps in these fragmented phrases and point-and-click photographs I can show a little of Chanticleer's magic.
Alliums and Dogwoods
I liked the Alliums. I loved the Alliums! I want more dogwood trees. I should plant a different dogwood each winter. And I wonder if my garden is just way too small. But lets' stop right there - at Chanticleer I counted ten different gardeners hard at work. There is only one slightly aching, slightly aging (and often slightly grumpy) me.
The Serpentine and Conifers
I liked the funny curves of conifers standing in the grass, with deliberate spaces in-between. I want - this one's simple - a golden leafed Cotinus.
Textures in the Grass
I wonder - would I like some mass green tussock plantings, their shapes surrounded by green lawn? Textures in the grass? I would have to keep them well groomed and weeded...
I liked the use of golden foliage - Spireae, golden leafed Hostas, Halkonoclea... But I do that too... I want... lots of purple flowering Alliums. Alliums, I've decided, are the private gardener's tulips. Letting my spring onions go to seed in the vegetable garden is just not classy enough.
Adirondack Garden Seats
Adirondack Garden Seats
I liked the way this garden seems big, but not too big. I wish I could do that... I want hosta swathes of one variety that take at least ten seconds to wander past. And I wonder how long would it take me to develop a bamboo grove? And where would I put it?
Vegetables and Pots
I liked the vegetables in the big pots - coriander, coloured silver beets, curly cabbages... I want some huge pots. I must investigate the demolition yard for old sewer pipes, and check out any recession sales. This gardener intends to expand...
Vegetables in Pots
I wonder if I have put too much garden-faith into planting roses everywhere. Less is more? Chanticleer is full of such interesting non-rose shrubs...
Ponds, Ponds, Ponds...
And of course I liked the ponds which flowed into ponds which flowed into ponds, and I want some, but I suspect that the gravity associated with a sloping garden site is required...
Chanticleer Garden Ponds
Chanticleer - A Pleasure Garden
Officially Chanticleer presents itself as a Pleasure Garden. That's nice, but think of pleasure as modern-quaint, whimsical, beautiful, edgy - and I don't mean the boundaries between lawn and garden bed!
Don't let your spirits sink (even the tiniest bit) on arrival, if you're longing for a private and personal garden. You'll see swathes of tarmac for bus and car parking, but - trust me - beyond them is the most perfect, fun-filled, inspiring place.
Anyway, you're in the USA! So you're bound to have arrived in a car yourself...
A Smiling Garden
Just wait until you see all the other swathes! And other visitors will be quietly wandering around the paths, or sitting on chairs with their lunch boxes, or even painting. Everyone smiles in the Chanticleer Garden.
A so-close-must-see garden? Absolutely - my visit has been the highlight of my holiday. Chanticleer knows how to keep it truly personal, and I've had a chance meeting that I may never, ever forget...
Garden Path Sign
Oh - there's more - I liked the serpentine (I think that's what it's called), and the painted garden signs, and the ruins, and...