It was early pm a hot Sunday in June when my husband and I drove through through quiet neighbourhoods outside Philadelphia, and in through the gates of Chanticleer. We were the second car there, the first being a staff member. Yes, I was just a little bit excited! I’d also read that their parking lot only fits 120 cars, so I didn’t want to drive all the way there and then not get in. I needn’t have worried.
Chanticleer is the former estate of a wealthy family, the Rosengartens, which has been turned into a “pleasure garden” and opened to the public. It is, in many ways, a botanical garden. But they do things a bit differently than other gardens, which become evident in lots of small ways.
The various areas of the garden are each stewarded by one of seven full time horticulturalists, assisted by seasonal helpers. Those horticulturalists make each area their own, and seem to try to outdo each other in creating a magical experience for visitors. The gardens are only open to the public from April through October. In the off season, staff work on projects for the garden–everything from creating original metalwork sculptures to throwing clay pots to designing and building original wooden furniture. The result is a garden rich in unique details, with a more personal feel than most other public gardens I’ve visited (Whistling Gardens is another one that exemplifies this spirit).
I’ve learned that the number of photos I take at a garden or other destination is a good indication of how much I enjoyed my time there. At Chanticleer, I drained the fully charged battery on my camera in just two hours…
I’m not going to show you even 10% of the pictures from my visit, as it would make for too long of a post. Instead, here are some things that caught my eye as I visited Chanticleer:
Those are a few of the images that struck me during my first visit to Chanticleer. I’ve seen photos of the garden in other seasons, and know that I will need to return in the coming years to see the magic unfold. I’m very much looking forward to returning!
If you can get yourself to Philadelphia I highly recommend making this garden part of your plans. I also suggest that you spend some time with The Art of Chanticleer book before you go so that you don’t miss the hidden-in-plain-sight gems and have a fuller understanding of what you’re seeing.
I left Chanticleer inspired by the creativity, passion and skill of the gardeners who steward this patch of land. It’s a very special place.