Chanticleer, Pennsylvania

A Pleasure Garden

Words: James Golden

Chanticleer is a garden of high entertainment, a celebration of horticultural derring-do where innovation and risk-taking are the norm—and a garden planted with superb horticultural skill.

One of the top landscape gardens in the US, Chanticleer’s 32 acres of rolling hills are punctuated by courtyards with flowery fireworks ready to burst from their formal bounds, striking garden “events,” and extraordinary juxtapositions of shape, color and texture. It’s a garden full of ideas, yet one with ample stillness and repose, placid vistas, an abundance of shady, private seating—and a delightful sense of humor.

Not to be missed

The Teacup Garden – exquisitely designed, with tender plantings like gems in a jewel box setting

The Tennis Court Garden – an experimental garden that pushes the bounds of taste - at times, sublime, at other times, a mess

The Ruin Garden – very controversial when an estate house was torn down and a ruin built in its place, graced by witty plantings and sculptures, and surrounded by gravel and Mediterranean gardens with hilltop overlook

The Pond Garden – actually a series of ponds and waterfalls, with surprising plantings of lush vegetation, and the only use of Baccharis halimifolia I’ve even seen in a cultivated garden

How to get there

In Wayne, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, but you’ll need an automobile. See the garden’s web site for directions, nearby restaurants & hotels.

Parking

Beautifully planted, but small, so arrive early.

Opening hours

10 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday.

Other gardens

Less than an hour’s drive to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and Winterthur in Delaware

 Quibble

No restaurant, in fact, no food at all.