Monday, January 7, 2013

Chanticleer in December

A few weeks ago I boarded a train bound for Philadelphia. I did a a bit of a whirlwind tour, but my first stop was to visit my dear friend Emma at Chanticleer. I met Emma at Great Dixter where she was the first North American Christopher Lloyd scholar. After her scholarship ended, Emma got a job at Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania. She is newly in charge of the cutting garden area and surrounding garden beds (including a very cool conifer island). The garden is very quiet this time of year and since I visited her on a Sunday, we had the place to ourselves. I have a habit of seeing so many great gardens for the first time at their barest time of year, but I get to really notice all those incredible structural choices and wintery plants that take a backstage in the high summer.
 Above is the Minder Ruin Garden. This was a solid house at one time, but the previous head gardener, Chris Woods, had a vision! They took down the house and erected a ruin. It is spectacular, with plants clambering and climbing the stones, filling the gaps, and swinging down from overhead.

Here is a long line of Hakonechloa macra, which has beuatifully naturalized in and out of the ruin garden. This grass, with its flapping and arching habit softens all those stone edges. It also looks terrific this mid December (there wasn't any sign of snow then!)

This is the famous planting of Prairie Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus heterolepis) that is managed by a controlled annual burn. In the distance is that luscious Hakonechloa.


This is a serpentine agricultural bed where a different crop is planted each year.  This year's crop was Sorghum. I love the backdrop of dark evergreens and red twigs swimming in a sea of bright straw colored grass.

Looking out over clouds of Muhlenbergia capillaris in the gravel garden.

The pond garden.

Skimmia japonica

Emma in the eaves of the Cryptomeria in the Asian Woods.

Fall blooming Narcisuss cantabricus looking perfect in mid December.

One of the many playful features of the garden.

The cutting garden that is now Emma's charge. She has spent the last month digging and dividing, amending the soil, and laying out her stakes (a la Dixter style) to plan the shapes and drifts of her new plantings.

A peak into one of the greenhouses.

Lastly, this picture is of Tetrapanax papyrifer! It survives winter here in this little hot spot. 


  1. Chanticleer looks like it's a great garden set to become even greater! I live an hour away from Great Dixter so I have an idea what Emma might be aiming for!

  2. What wonderful photographs. I have not visited Chanticleer yet. That may be one of the gardens I visit this summer. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really enjoyed seeing Chanticleer in winter, Helen! I had my first visit this past April, when it was a complete riot because of the early spring. And I expect to be back out this spring, so I look forward to seeing Emma's display. You really must come back and see the Asian woods in the springtime... it is amazing and full of treasures!

  4. I am glad to share a wintery Chanticleer with you all. I am planning a trip back in the springtime so I will get to see it in all its springtime splendor! Thanks all for reading!

  5. Ah! When will you be back? My family will be there in early May - and we hope to see Winterthur's azaleas the same weekend. :)