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Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden

Photographs by ROB CARDILLO
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Chanticleer, a forty-eight-acre garden on Philadelphia's historic Main Line, is many things simultaneously: a lush display of verdant intensity and variety, an irreverent and informal setting for inventive plant combinations, a homage to the native trees and horticultural heritage of the mid-Atlantic, a testament to one man's devotion to his family's estate and legacy, and a good spot for a stroll and picnic amid the blooms. In Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, Adrian Higgins and photographer Rob Cardillo chronicle the garden's many charms over the course of two growing cycles. Built on the grounds of the Rosengarten estate in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Chanticleer retains a domestic scale, resulting in an intimate, welcoming atmosphere. The structure of the estate has been thoughtfully incorporated into the garden's overall design, such that small gardens created in the footprint of the old tennis court and on the foundation of one of the family homes share space with more traditional landscapes woven around streams and an orchard. Through conversations and rambles with Chanticleer's team of gardeners and artisans, Higgins follows the garden's development and reinvention as it changes from season to season, rejoicing in the hundred thousand daffodils blooming on the Orchard Lawn in spring and marveling at the Serpentine's late summer crop of cotton, planted as a reminder of Pennsylvania's agrarian past. Cardillo's photographs reveal further nuances in Chanticleer's landscape: a rare and venerable black walnut tree near the entrance, pairs of gaily painted chairs along the paths, a backlit arbor draped in mounds of fragrant wisteria. Chanticleer fuses a strenuous devotion to the beauty and health of its plantings with a constant dedication to the mutability and natural energy of a living space. And within the garden, Higgins notes, there is a thread of perfection entwined with whimsy and continuous renewal.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0697-5
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
    (pp. VII-IX)
    R. William Thomas

    This book is a testament to the people who have made Chanticleer. To Adolph and Christine Rosengarten, who purchased the property, built the home, and raised two children who would grow up to love the place. To their son, Adolph, Jr., who loved the trees, lawns, homes, and spirit of the site so much he left it to be a public garden. He endowed it well and trusted the Board of Directors he appointed and the staff he and they hired to develop the property into something special. To his wife, Janet, who tended her own personal flower garden outside...

  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. X-XI)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Meaning of Chanticleer
    (pp. 1-13)

    This book took me from my home in Alexandria, Virginia, to Chanticleer Garden on Philadelphia’s Main Line many times over two growing seasons. I had known the garden since 2000 and sensed then that the dynamics at play were producing a place quite unlike any other I had seen in twenty-five years of garden writing. So when I returned repeatedly for this project, I rejoiced at the prospect of getting to know Chanticleer Garden far more deeply, not just in its horticultural topography, but in the way that it changed from month to month, even week to week. That sounds...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Teacup and Entry Gardens
    (pp. 15-33)

    Five houses sit on the entire forty-seven-acre Chanticleer estate, six if you count the Ruin, where Chanticleer’s benefactor, Adolph Rosengarten, Jr., once had a perfectly unruined home. But it is the grand house of his sister, Emily Rosengarten, that welcomes visitors and sets the whole mood for the Chanticleer experience. The senior Rosengartens built it for her when she married a lumber importer named Samuel Goodman in 1935; Goodman died just eleven years later, at the age of thirty-nine. After her death Adolph Rosengarten, Jr., purchased the house from her second husband, O. P. Jackson, Sr., in 1983.

    Today the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Tennis Court Garden
    (pp. 35-45)

    The vestigial rectangle of a tennis court, once bounded by thick hemlocks, today provides one of the most geometric gardens at Chanticleer, and with it the opportunity to temper straight lines with soft plantings. That contrast is one of many pleasing paradoxes about this garden, and it comes into play as soon as you move through the transitional beds away from the Teacup Garden to the broad shoulders of the upper beds at the top of the stairs to the Tennis Court Garden.

    The duality of the space is first experienced at the top of the entrance stairs. The visitor...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Chanticleer House
    (pp. 47-73)

    Wayne is one of a string of towns along the old Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Before the age of the automobile, the train service gave Philadelphia’s wealthiest families access to a region where they could build large country houses in rolling pastures and leafy woods, away from the heat and insalubrious bustle of the city. It was a social place where the wealthy could both associate with their own lofty ilk and engage in the sport of competitive conspicuous consumption. It should be said, though, that among such districts in the United States the Main Line stands out for the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Asian Woods
    (pp. 75-91)

    In the lowest and remotest part of Chanticleer sits the area called Asian Woods, the distant corner where intimate trails and secluded resting spots invite quiet meditation. Here, one ambles or lingers in a temperate jungle that is both exotic and familiar.

    Bell’s Run, the stream at the edge of the estate, meanders and adds its own soft music, its far banks covered with the bold leaves of Petasites japonicus, through which the similarly brash bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) grow taller by the year. This pairing of American tree and Asian perennial is not only aesthetically apt, with the plants’...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Pond Garden
    (pp. 93-113)

    Open, sunny, and a glorious blend of flowers and water, the Pond Garden is the most exuberant part of Chanticleer. Imagine being in the cottage garden of a wealthy and brilliant plant maniac, throw in a series of cascading ponds, themselves teeming with life, and you get a sense of how special this garden has become.

    The lowest and largest pond, known officially as Pond 1 but popularly as the lotus pond, is the original body of water here, a clay-lined reservoir that was (and still is) fed by a spring encased in the stone spring house. In the 1970s...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Stream Garden
    (pp. 115-119)

    In April and May, when spring blossoms paired with the symbolic fertility of the rushing stream capture the sudden and unstoppable burgeoning of the season, Chanticleer’s Stream Garden comes into its own.

    The first showy color comes in the form of broad drifts of the daffodil ‘Ice Follies’, whose lines follow the meandering path of the stream. Look closely and you will see another streamside beauty, the native bellworts, Uvularia grandiflora, with lemon-yellow petals held like clusters of dangling pennants.

    The blue-flowering quamash is the defining spring plant for the Stream Garden. The tops of the stream banks are planted...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Minder Woods, the Ruin, and Gravel Garden
    (pp. 121-157)

    There are three woodlands within the thirty-five acres of Chanticleer Garden. Each is quite different in character. The three-acre native woodland, still under development, will mature in the decades to come and define the stream valley at the northern fringe of Chanticleer. Within its framework of American beech, white oaks, tulip poplars, and sycamores, visitors will find all that you might expect in a mid-Atlantic forest, but in artful arrangement. Spring bulbs, spring ephemerals, ferns, and perennials will cover the ground, yielding to the successive flowering of understory shrubs, trees, and vines. Autumn brings its own mantle of leaf color,...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Cutting Garden
    (pp. 159-167)

    Long before it became fashionable again to grow your own food, the Cutting Garden was exploring artfully the confluence of a traditional cut-flower and vegetable garden. The Rosengartens had always maintained these amenities in parts of the estate, and the present location, open, sunny, and flat, once held an extensive area where fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers were grown for the table.

    Now smaller in scale, the cutting garden evokes a traditional American cottage garden, especially in summer when the heat invigorates such beauties as annual sun-flowers, brilliant dahlias, and crested celosias. By July the intensely planted garden is a...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Parking Lot Garden
    (pp. 169-177)

    The moment visitors arrive through the Chanticleer gate, the tone is set. This is no ordinary parking lot. It is an elegant space, from the geometry of the entrance circle to the high design of the lot itself, with spaces delineated not with paint, but with Belgian block. One is also struck by the idea that this isn’t just a car park, it’s a garden. Woody plants predominate and the pitch is kept low, but this is an attractive and dynamic landscape, and instructive too. What is not as obvious, given the seamlessness of its design, is that this is...

  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 178-178)