An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 21, 2011

Chanticleer - A Pleasure Garden

On my birthday in late July I got a really great present - a chance to revisit the gardens of Chanticleer.  Though I had been there before, this is where I wanted to spend the day.  Besides strolling through the garden, I was hoping to get some great photos, but the day was brilliantly sunny, hot and clear, not the best day for a photo shoot, though we had a good time just the same.

Chanticleer was originally the family estate of the Rosengartens and is set in the rolling hills west of Philadelphia.  Though the garden only opened about 20 years, it quickly made a name for itself in the world of horticulture through its innovative plant and design choices.  Chanticleer is divided into a series of garden areas, linked by easy paths and separated by large open areas of lawn and spectacular trees.  There are generous assortments of unique seating options, unusual drinking fountains, artful paving and some of the nicest restrooms anywhere (worth going into even if you don't have to go).  Being a self-designated pleasure garden, your horticultural head won't be muddled by plant labels.  If you want to know what is planted in each area there are lists available in handmade boxes.  Or you could just enjoy the gardens as a whole and not worry about its individual parts.

We will start our tour logically enough at the front entrance.  BTW, if you consider yourself a garden professional let them know at the gate, and you will get in for free, just flash a business card.
Front Entrance (2)

Front Entrance (3)

Front Entrance (4)

Near the front entrance is one of their more famous gardens, The Teacup Garden.
Teacup Garden (6)

Teacup Garden

Teacup Garden (4)

Nothing against the sport of tennis, you can see that anywhere, but I would rather look at Chanticleer's Tennis Court Garden.
Tennis Court Garden

Tennis Court Garden (3)

There is a large garden for cut flowers and vegetables.
Cut Flower and Vegetable Garden

The Stream Garden is a bit more wooded and perhaps the most traditional garden at Chanticleer. It is also home to some of the finest specimens of Stewartia (not pictured) I have ever seen, a whole grove of them.
Stream Garden (2)

On a hill in the middle of Chanticleer is my favorite garden, The Ruin Garden. Once the site of an old house, and that spirit has been evoked in stone, water and plants. It is perhaps one of the most creative designs I have ever seen, and the too often used concept of "garden rooms" has been taken at face value in this creation.
Ruin Gardens (2)

Ruin Garden (3)

Ruin Garden (6)

Ruin Gardens

Ruin Gardens (3)

Minder Woods
Minder Woods

Gravel Garden
Gravel Garden (2)

The docent at the front entrance made a point of telling us not to miss The Pond Garden, and with all of its color, her suggestion was appreciated, but not necessary.
Pond Garden (5)

Pond Garden (6)

Pond Garden (4)

Pond Garden

The Asian Woods
Asian Woods

Asian Woods (2)

The Chanticleer House Garden surrounds the largest of the two houses on the property. The hardscaping around the house is in a more formal and traditional design, but the plantings were anything but.
Chanticleer House Gardens (3)

Chanticleer House Gardens (2)

Chanticleer House Gardens (6)

Chanticleer House Gardens (7)

Chanticleer House Gardens (10)

If you are ever in the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend a visit to Chanticleer, and if you are travelling with non-gardeners, it has been my experience that they will have a good time too.

(If you would like to see more, you can click here  for my complete Flickr set of Chanticleer photos.)


  1. I had lunch here with garden club friends yesterday afternoon, and we were talking about Chanticleer! I have never been, and they were telling me how wonderful is it. Your photos and your descriptions show me that I have definitely missed something special. This one is now on the bucket list.

  2. Happy belated July birthday! I had forgotten (if I ever knew) that we share a birthday month...

    I've seen several posts on Chanticleer but I think yours is my favorite, I feel like I was there!

  3. Its interesting to see how different people see different objects and views while visiting there. I like your selections. My favorites are the ruins. greg.

  4. Les,
    This is a great post of one of my all-time favorite gardens. Makes me want to go back to Philadelphia! Thanks for these wonderful photographs.

  5. the lushness of the plantings and the playfulness of the many interesting and unusual's just incredibly inviting. i can't wait to visit there one day. i enjoyed seeing it through your lens.

  6. I was there just two weeks ago, and you photos really capture the spirit of Chanticleer. The Tennis Court garden has passed its peak, but I still find I go there early to see what whimsical things are going on. But the gardeners have a lot of fun in every part of Chanticleer. Do you know the name of that bright orange Canna behing the "big house"?

  7. The Ruin Garden does look amazing. Thanks, for all the photo inspiration.

  8. Thank you so much for this post...Chanticleer is definitely on my list of "must-see" gardens...and your post makes me even more eager to visit someday!

  9. Glad you had a fun visit for your birthday. I was going to title one of my Chanticleer posts: "Chanticleer, a garden so beautiful that even the bathrooms are ornamental." Glad you feel the same way.

  10. Lucky you. we had a glimpse of Chanticleer last year when Pam, digging visited. Love that succulent rain chain and all the paving, walls and glimpses through doorways.

  11. Another great place to put on my wishlist to visit! Thanks for sharing your visit with us Les. Beautiful photos, loved that couch & chair, so cool. :)

  12. Les, I've never gotten to visit Chanticleer, but I will one day. I can't wait. GWA went, but it was before I was part of the organization. That one fountain which looked like an overflowing teacup or flower is stupendous.~~Dee

  13. Something about the Minder Woods path and the lotus at the Pond Garden were enticing to me. Chanticleer will surely be added to my Bucket List.

  14. Thanks for the tour, Les... absolutely beautiful and will be put on my list of gardens to see when we get back east. What is about ruins that is so attractive? love the old stone and how it remains standing.

  15. What a wonderful place. Every time I spotted something I wanted to comment on, I scrolled on and came to something new. I love that spiral of brick set so perfectly in immaculate paving. Just the thought of trying to achieve that made my head ache. And I loved the stone sofas complete with remote. But the planting - every type of planting, all so beautifully done. What a great way to spend your birthday. And amazing photos - wish I could do as well in bright sun. Happy Belated Birthday!

  16. Hi Les, Belated happy birthday! Visiting an inspirational garden seems like the perfect thing for a gardener to do on their birthday. It was a pleasure (as always) to see your wonderful photographs of the garden. That stone easy chair and sofa are quite something. I also really liked the decorative stone curve in the paving. I would love to do something similar in my garden someday.

  17. This is one of the gardens that I really want to visit one day. I can see why you'd like to spend your birthday there. It is so beautiful.

  18. Your photos are just spectacular. It's definitely a must see for me one day. Thanks for capturing it so appealingly.
    On another note - I hope you and your family have as minimal impact as possible from Irene. I was so thankful when the tract moved earlier in the week away from my area (Myrtle Beach). But it doesn't look so good for you now. Just know that there are many of your blog followers who will be thinking of you and your family and wishing for the best possible scenario. Godspeed.

  19. Connie,
    Your garden club friends speaketh the truth.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes and the kind comments.

    Yes I was going to ref. other bloggers post on Chanticleer, but I knew I would leave someone out, so better to mention no one.

    You are quite welcome.

    Yes the element of playfulness is throughout the garden.

    I am sorry, but I do not know the canna. Leave it to Chanticleer to buck the trend of colored canna foliage in every hue and combination for one with plain green leaves.

    Yes the ruins are amazing.

    I am glad it is on your list, sorry it is on the other side of the country.

    I am glad I am not the only one who noticed the restrooms. Now they just need a cool place for a bite to eat or an adult beverage.

    L. Rose,
    I don't usually gush about paving, but theirs is amazing.

    Yes that couch and chair could be mine, but a little problematic to move.

    I am not sure it was originally intended to be a teacup, but the name has stuck.

    Yes, definately one for the bucket list.

    I know what you mean about ruins, but can't explain it either.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes. The whole garden is a surprise, every time you turn the corner there is something new.

    Yes it was a great way to spend my birthday. Some of the paving looked simple enough for me to do, but others would take someone with more skills.

    Yes you should put it on your list.

    Your comment means a lot to me. Things are going to be ugly here this weekend and if we can come out with minimal damage I will be happy.


  20. Chanticleer is my favorite garden so far. I was so inspired and laughed out loud at the sly sense of humor on display throughout the incredible plantings. I loved the various paths and the restrooms too! I posted about my own summer visit 3 years ago: I hope to go back again in the spring to see the bulb display.

  21. When I can not get to a comments section from Blotanical, which appears to be happening frequently lately, I find out which of my my favorite and most visited blogs is missing from my sidebar. I swooned over your images today, not only because your photography is so good, but also by what you framed to shoot. I love this place and when I get back 'home', am going to make sure I visit it again. Chanticleer is pure magic.

  22. Beautiful just plan beautiful. What a wonderful way to spend your birthday!!! Happy belated.....

  23. WOW. the Asian garden looked very inviting but I'm with you, I loved the Ruin Garden. It would be one that I would enjoy building. Perhaps I'll steal an idea or just use it for inspiration. What a great way to spend your birthday. I'm glad it was a good one.

  24. This place looks amazing! (And it's still strange to think this, but it's not that far away from me now... I could go and check it out for myself).

    Was thinking about you and the path of Irene. Hope all are safe - people, dogs, the garden.

  25. HI Les! Hope you and yours are safe from Hurricane Irene.


  26. That's a precious garden, so much peace there, beautiful plants and flowers, so great, looks like a heavenly garden here on earth! Beautiful!

  27. I haven't been there in years, but your photos make me want to go there again!