July 2nd, 2013 at 4:45 pm
A few weeks ago, during the one sunny afternoon in the midst of what seemed like days upon days of rain, my son and I headed out to the gardens at Chanticleer. I hadn’t been there in over 10 years, since before he was born. He’s a lover of all kinds of plants, so I was looking forward to showing him this wonderland in Wayne as an end-of-the-school-year reward.
Built in 1913 as the country retreat of Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., and his wife Christine, Chanticleer has been open to the public as “A Pleasure Garden” since 1993. Thirty-five gorgeous acres are accessible from April through October, the perfect months for viewing blooms, foliage, woods, ruins, and water features; meandering on the mile-long main path; and enjoying the whimsical and imaginative setting. Honestly, it’s hard to find superlatives that measure up to the beauty of this unique yet little-known spot—but I will try.
We started our visit at the Teacup Garden, located just beyond the entrance. This lovely terrace is chock full of seasonal, tropical, and subtropical blooms both large and small, all surrounding a central fountain that just begged to be dipped into on the hot day. We also came across the first of many artists there that day capturing scenes from around the gardens on canvas. I made a note to be sure to return with my husband, who always has a sketchbook in hand.
From the Teacup Garden we headed to the Cut Flower Garden and Vegetable Garden, which was just beginning to burst with the promised bounty of the season. I can imagine that as the summer progresses, the twig arches will become entwined with flowers and veggies and vines of all sorts! We took a seat at a bench at one end of this garden, pausing to take it all in. (It should be noted that benches and chairs are scattered all throughout Chanticleer, encouraging visitors to linger, relax, and enjoy.)
At some point we put away our map and decided just to wander. We spent the afternoon traversing a bridge that looks like a fallen tree and following the shady streamside path on the other side, marveling at the Ruin and its incredible sculptures and water features, escaping the heat in the Asian Woods and Bell’s Woodland, and enjoying every moment we spent in this gloriously informal escape.
We finished our visit at the Pond Garden, which we were told not to miss when we entered the grounds earlier that day. The pond teems with an impressive array of huge koi, but what we really wanted to see were the poppies, which were promised to be “like a Monet painting.” Indeed they were! Huge swaths of orange blooms streaked across the hills surrounding the pond, dotted here and there with yellow and purple and pink. Imagine, our own Giverny right here in the Brandywine Valley! The scene was absolute perfection. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Chanticleer, located at 786 Church Road in Wayne, PA, is open April through October, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm (extended hours to 8pm on Fridays from May through Labor Day). For more information, visit Chanticleer on the web and Facebook.