In case you missed the other posts (here and here), each week I am writing about one of my favorite gardens for their use of design and plants. In this week’s post: number 3 of 6, I will write about the much-heralded Chanticleer.

birds eye view of chanticleer via

Chanticleer is a 35 acre public garden just off of the Main Line of Philadelphia in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Initially, Chanticleer began as the private estate of the Rosengarten family. In the 1980’s and 90’s, the gardens were transformed into a horticultural Shangri-La by the staff under the direction of their former director, Christopher Woods. Since that time, the full-time staff of 7 horticulturists with the accompaniment of many more, have continued to charm the gardening public with new plants and whimsical combinations.

Asian woods at chanticleer gardens

Today, this team under the direction of their current director and head gardener, Bill Thomas, continue to assemble planting combinations that are often photographed and routinely copied in other gardens. Chanticleer closes its gates for the winter and during this time, the gardeners look for new plants and new ways to enhance their gardens. Most of the gardeners develop a craft that they pursue during the winter months. Some of their projects include: chairs, benches, plant list holders, and bridges.

tennis court handrails at chanticleer garden via

floating flowers at chanticleer gardens via

Each gardener has a garden area that they curate. These spectacular spaces include: The Teacup Garden (named for the fountain that looks like a teacup), The Tennis Court Garden (an old tennis court is now an elaborate mixed garden), The Chanticleer House and Garden (complete with fantastic swimming pool), The Serpentine which is planted each year with an agricultural inspired planting en masse, the serene Asian Woods, the lush Pond Garden, the Ruin and Gravel Gardens, and the native plant garden in Bell’s Woodland.

larry albee reflective pool at chanticleer garden via


minder path at chanticleer garden via

Every time that I visit Chanticleer, I walk away with a new favorite space. That is the fantastic thing about the gardens, they change each time you visit. One time I might leave with a favorite spot in the Teacup Garden, the next I walk away really digging the plantings and the Japanese bathroom (aka The Pee House) in the Asian Woods.

If you have never been to Chanticleer, you must go. Really, you must so you can experience this truly, one of a kind, pleasure garden.


Photos by Chanticleer

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.


  1. [email protected] Trekker on March 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    What an amazing treasure. The plant selection and the architectural elements are amazing. I love walking through gardens like this that are so inspiration, spawning so many creative ideas. Thank you for sharing.

    • rodneyeason on March 20, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Charlie, you are correct. There is nothing like visiting an inspiring garden.

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