Entering Chanticleer

As you enter the Chanticleer grounds, you notice a charming little building with lovely planted containers; vegetables and herbs are planted in the garden beds.  The building was given to the Rosengarten daughter by her parents as a wedding gift.  It now serves as offices and education classrooms.  It also houses the first restrooms and it was lovely, with yellow and blue decorative tile floors, marble counter tops and gold fixtures.  A fresh-cut flower bouquet in a blue and white ceramic vase was an unusual and appreciated touch.

A toad lily not burned up by summer’s hot air.


Chanticleer Tennis Court and Teacup Gardens

Just after you go through the admission area, if you can tear yourself away, there is a grand stone staircase bordered by planter walls.  The plants are changed seasonally.  The grass that is used now will give way to violas and hyacinths in the spring, that would be fun to see and smell.  The garden beds are massive and planted as fully as everywhere else on the grounds.  In the far end is a wisteria covered gazebo with a large glider.  Enjoyable.

A huge pineapple lily.

Chanticleer House and Terraces

Named after the fictional Chanticlere in Thackeray’s 1855 novel The Newcomes, Chanticleer House was built in 1913 by Adolph and Christine Rosengarten as their summer retreat.  Their pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia would become part of Merck.  They gave their children nearby homes as wedding gifts; the daughter’s home serves as the administrative and educational building and the son’s home was on the site that is now the Ruins.   Chanticleer House Garden is massive, but the stunning feature is the abundance of plant material.  It is more than adequately landscaped and the weather in Pennsylvania allows the plant material to thrive; winter is the trickiest weather they have to deal with.   The grounds near the house are a real treat for any gardener or plant collector.  We noticed in the Bustani Plant Farm newsletter that they had recently delivered plants to Chanticleer, so we called and asked about them to see if we could find any while we were there.  We think we found the variegated tapioca and the wooly morning glory.  This group of pictures begins after you go through the entrance, walking up the driveway through the gates with the rooster statuary.  Roosters are found throughout the terraces.

Chanticleer: The Apple House, Great Lawn, and Serpentine

Chanticleer is so large, more than 30 acres planted and we walked the whole thing.  The Apple House was unexpected and just precious. It is fun to witness someone else’s artistic make-believe done well.

The Great Lawn is unbelievably magnificent; Christy said she could imagine children running wild on that lawn.  That would be so much fun.

The Serpentine is a huge strip of land planted now with a swath of sorghum.  I don’t know if they did that with seed or not, but it is perfect–all the same height and lined up beautifully.  They say that Chanticleer is all about dramatic effect and that proves it.

Chanticleer: the Asian Woods

This was among our favorite sections and part of the reason is the restroom.  Before you think that we had drunk too much coffee, it is really because the restrooms, this one in particular, are very beautiful.  Several staff members were sent to Japan to study garden structures prior to this restroom pavilion being built.  They got it right from the surrounding plant materials and trees to the square opaque windows that look like rice paper.  The restroom sign is in Japanese, there is a bonsai dish at the front door; inside it is all reddish-brown wood that looks like teak with white walls and opaque antique white windows.  Once inside I chose the handicapped stall; it was subtly decorated like someone’s Japanese home with four zen-like soft black and white rock garden photographs beautifully framed.  The stall had its own sink, not the ugly utilitarian fixtures that you find at movie theater and airport restrooms.  Its authenticity supported, not detracted from, the surrounding garden.

Bamboo Bridge

Chanticleer: the Pond Garden

This garden was pretty because the water plants were so huge and healthy.  See if you can spot all the mature flower pods rising above the leaves and the blossoms are huge.  Lots of koi swimming close by didn’t hurt the ambiance either.  Lovely.

Chanticleer: Minder Woods, the Ruin and Gravel Garden

The Minder Woods are the center of Chanticleer; everything emanates from it.  It has many aged spring bulbs and wonderful woody spring shrubs.   As in every spot on the grounds where there is a huge spreading tree, underneath in the shade a pair of chairs waits for someone to sit and admire a view.

The Ruins, established in the footprint of the Rosengartens’ home that was demolished to make more garden space, is patterned after old English ruins.  Stone books and other interesting pieces carved by sculptor Marcia Donahue out of sandstone and green marble are strewn around the “library”. The rugs are gravel with chunks of broken roof tiles creating the S pattern.   A tree grows in and out of a window and as you proceed through the decay becomes more prominent until it ends and you are outside.

Basically a rock garden, The Gravel Garden is open and sunny, with low mounding, herbaceous plants.  Steps take you up to a side garden with a large three cushion stone sofa and a large stone armchair.  Two women were sitting and talking in the sofa so we didn’t want to disturb them, thus there is no photo of the furniture or the women, only this one mounding harbaceous plant.