Thursday, June 9: I make it to Chanticleer just before 4:00, so I have only an hour to see the entire garden before it closes. The garden has been called “the most romantic, imaginative, and exciting public garden in America,” according to the estate’s brochure.
The Chanticleer estate dates from the early 20th-century, when land along the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad was developed for summer homes to escape the heat of Philadelphia, according to Chanticleer. Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. and his wife Christine built their country retreat in 1913 in the Wayne-St. Davids area. The family’s Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical firm would become part of Merck in the 1920s. A 1924 addition converted the summer home into a year-round residence.
The Rosengartens named their home after “Chanticlere” in Thackeray’s 1855 novel The Newcomes. The Rosengartens played on the word, a synonym of “rooster,” using rooster motifs throughout the property.
The Chanticleer Foundation owns 47 acres, 35 of which are open to the public. The main path is just under a mile in length.
I enter through the Teacup Garden entrance. Seven horticulturists are each responsible for the design, planting, and maintenance of an area. The Teacup Garden features seasonal plants and bold-textured tropical and subtropical plants.
The Tennis Court Garden focuses on perennials, both woody and herbaceous.
The Chanticleer House and Terraces have two beds of ever-changing silver, pink, and gray plants framing a large lawn still used for entertaining. The swimming pool has replaced the old vegetable garden and is now framed by two copper-roofed corner pieces.
At the top of a new elevated meandering walkway sits the Apple House, a small shed once used to store apples. Inside, is a charming little oasis.
The new elevated walkway, completed in 2015, is 530 feet long and over six feet wide, with two viewing platforms and an elevated grade of 8%. It enables people with disabilities to descend to the lower gardens easily. At its highest point, it sits eight feet above a blooming meadow with a grove of quaking aspens running through it.
The Great Lawn is a wide expanse of grass with grand views of the house and the gardens, with some whimsical seats.
The large pond of the Pond Garden was “constructed in the early 1970s and remained unplanted to serve as a mirror for the trees that surrounded it. Over time, plantings edged their way, creating a dense herbaceous thicket of summer and fall flowers and fruits. Additional ponds were added in the last seven years” (Chanticleer Garden Guide).
The Pond Garden’s perennials emphasize foliage. It’s quite layered and beautiful; this is one of my favorite parts of Chanticleer. I’m definitely going to have to come back here when I have more time to linger.
As I walk to the ruins, I find this stone seating arrangement.
Minder House, built in 1925, is where Adolph Rosengarten, Jr. lived most of his life. In 1999, under the vision and direction of Chanticleer’s Director Chris Woods, the house was razed and construction of the Ruin Garden began. Originally the plan was to use the partially dismantled house as the ruin, but for safety reasons the only part left of the original house is the foundation and the tile “rug”(Chanticleer Garden Guide). According to the brochure, “the Ruin is a folly… built to appear as if the house fell into disrepair.” It is very picturesque!
While I’m at the ruin, I see the Chanticleer folks sweeping through the park and I note that it’s six minutes till closing time. I hurry along the path like a good little girl, passing the potting shed and the cut flower and vegetable garden.
Sadly, I leave the garden and head to Crowne Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia, where I’ll stay the night. I enjoy a margarita and salmon dinner at the festive bar of Bahama Breeze. Though I consider killing time at the King of Prussia Mall, the largest mall in America in terms of leasable space, near my hotel, I opt instead to have an early night reading my book, Hummingbird House by Patricia Henley, and watching the History Channel’s Alone. I’m not normally a reality show fan, but the fact that it’s on the History Channel makes it more enticing. It’s purely by accident that I stumble upon it.
The series is filmed in northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, following the self-documented day-to-day lives of 10 individuals as they attempt to survive in the wilderness for as long as possible. The participants are isolated from each other and all human contact, and the one who remains on the island the longest wins a grand prize of $500,000. The series premiered on June 18, 2015 (Wikipedia: Alone). I find it quite fascinating, and later, when my son takes off for Vancouver, I can’t help but think back to this show and worry about what will become of him.
Check out other beautiful walks through gardens and exotic lands, here, on Jo’s Monday Walk.