Chanticleer – A Tour With Dan Benarcik

– Posted in: Garden Design, Garden Plants

“Garden making is fundamentally not an intellectual enterprise. Most people come to gardens to experience some form of beauty.” Chris Woods

Chanticleer, a 47 acre garden in the suburbs of Philadelphia, was the personal estate of Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. and was passed down to his son, Adolph Jr. and daughter, Emily.

As Adrian Higgins writes in Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, “Adolph Rosengarten. Jr., loved trees, and the cultural legacy of Chanticleer that he and his sister, and their parents before them, left for us was dependent on trees in what was once open farmland. Without them today, Chanticleer would lose its air of permanence and be seen for what it is: essentially a remarkable but young garden begun in 1990.”

When Rosengarten decided to transform it into a public garden, he hired Chris Woods in 1983, a young English gardener who became the first executive director of Chanticleer in 1990.

Chris “formulated a clear vision of how the garden should develop, assembled a team of highly talented horticulturists, and gave them the freedom to be creative and take risks.”

Taken from Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden – Written by Adrian Higgins. Photos by Rob Cardillo.

The garden is a feast for the eyes –  each of the 13 is filled with intense and innovative plantings – so much so that I find it almost too much to digest in one visit.

When I visited this past June, I was lucky enough to find Dan Benarcik, an incredibly gifted horticulturist, in The Tea Cup Garden. He kindly agreed to take us on a tour of the Courtyard and Tea Cup Gardens – 2 of the 3 gardens where he creates/designs/plants/maintains.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
21 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Dee Nash (@reddirtramblin) July 16, 2013, 4:35 pm

I adore ‘Princess Caroline’ pennisetum and use it in all of my gardens. It’s so beautiful and makes such a strong statement. Thanks to you both.

Fran Sorin July 17, 2013, 12:47 am

You’re in good company using ‘Princess Caroline’. After seeing it in the containers at Chanticleer, I’m going to search it out! Fran

kate July 17, 2013, 6:09 am

excellent quote. i’ve read quite a bit of higgins books and this is a great one!

Vivian Rowe July 17, 2013, 7:46 am

Hi Fran,

This is a nice review. For me, visiting a garden like this Pleasure Garden is like visiting a museum full of wonderful paintings. I wish I can visit that place. BTW, the book is affordable. I will order online. Thanks for sharing the link! 🙂

Fran Sorin July 17, 2013, 7:50 am

With pleasure Vivian. Buying the book is an excellent idea. I think you’ll love it!

Fran Sorin July 17, 2013, 7:51 am

Kate- Am assuming that you mean the quote at the top of the page by Chris Woods. If so, it is excellent!

Jo Pomeroy July 17, 2013, 10:19 am

Thank you for this. Chanticleer is on my list every time I return home to the Philadelphia area. It is always a visual delight.

Fran Sorin July 17, 2013, 10:51 pm

Jo – As a Philadelphian who spend most of the year living elsewhere, even when I return to Philly for only 5 days, I squeeze a visit to Chanticleer. It is a garden that continues to titillate all of the senses. Fran

Janette Emerson July 18, 2013, 2:37 am

Chanticleer is already on my destination list! You made me do it. Now, I have the urge to buy the book. 😉

Fran Sorin July 18, 2013, 4:42 am

Janet – Buy it – it’s worth every penny – I think. It will give you an in depth understanding of each garden – along with Rob Cardillo’s photos.:) Fran

Bruce Gold July 18, 2013, 3:34 pm

Does this garden us an irrigation sprinkler system ?

Fran Sorin July 19, 2013, 5:59 am

Bruce- I’m quite sure that they don’t but I’ll check it out- Fran

Eric Prado July 19, 2013, 9:34 am

His garden is a work of art. I am just amazed with the arrangements of the plants. Dan Benarcik is skillful. I hope I could meet him soon.

Lisa@YourEasyGarden July 23, 2013, 3:26 pm

I’m so in love with orange and silver together now! Want to get Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ and pair it with orange bromeliad, coleus and diasca. And a dark-foliaged pineapple? Who knew? Audio was loud and clear in all but a few short bits (and my daughter had the TV on, so maybe it was fine). Thanks for sharing!

Fran Sorin July 25, 2013, 12:30 am

Eric – I’ll pass your thoughts onto him. Meanwhile, I’m going to be setting up a specific Chanticleer page on Pinterest. I have photos dating back for several years. It is amazing to see the amount of beauty they have created.

Betsy/Zen Mama July 28, 2013, 4:22 pm

Loved watching your video Fran!! Philadelphia has so many beautiful gardens! I’ll check out Chanticleer’s website and send it on to my aunt who lives in Philly.

Cathy Taughinbaugh July 28, 2013, 11:48 pm

Hi Fran,

Love the video. I have mainly pots that I garden with, so nice to see these ideas and the repetition is a helpful tip. Thanks!

Fran Sorin August 4, 2013, 7:41 am

Cathy –
Dan is the master of containers. As you saw, he also uses a lot of tropicals which is great for your climate. Fran

Fran Sorin August 4, 2013, 7:43 am

Betsy – Yes, Philly is one of the great horticultural cities but Chanticleer is truly one of a kind ~ if your aunt hasn’t visited, it’s worth seeing – even if she’s not a gardener. Fran

Garden Compass February 9, 2015, 1:23 pm

Absolutely stunning. Such a great work of art, and thank you very much for sharing your video.

Kate February 9, 2015, 2:41 pm

Great post. thanks for sharing.

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