Chanticleer Garden in Autumn

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Although Chanticleer closed to visitors for the season a month ago, I was lucky to get in for a visit after its final curtain call. So, on a cloudy, warmish ‘but with a chill in the air’ first day of December, I came to this jewel of a garden to see how it had changed since my last visit 3 months ago.

One of Christopher Lloyd’s many books, Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure, left an impression on me. His garden had been photographed through out the seasons so that the reader could get a sense of its transformation over a period of 7 months. So, as an homage to the great Christopher Lloyd, here are a few of the gardens at Chanticleer photographed this spring and then again in December.

The picture above is one of the tennis court garden taken this August. When in bloom, it is a huge open space that is exuberant and overflowing with color and texture: a piece of flat land totally exposed so that it is ‘in your face’ (in the best sense of that phrase). Below is a picture of the tennis court garden as it appears today.

I then walked down to the cutting and vegetable garden. As you may recall in an earlier post, I raved about it being reminiscent of Giverny, Monet’s garden. Here are some pictures of it in bloom taken this summer and the last one, this past week.

And then there is the Tea Cup garden which is the first of the gardens you come upon after walking through the entry way arbor. This is how it looked in April and again this week.

Throughout this visit, my eyes fell upon some of the craftsmanship and stonework which are an integral part of the garden. Several of these pieces were created by gardeners at Chanticleer, who also happen to be incredible craftspeople, which should come as no surprise. As I took the meandering path towards the woodland garden, I came upon a bridge that I have walked across dozens of times. But somehow, on this late fall day, its rustic, wooden hand rails were all the more outstanding.

When I walked out of the woodland garden, I was startled by a whimsical but yet classic water fountain that was perched on the edge of the walkway. The sight of it gave me such pleasure that I let out a guffaw. This piece was designed and crafted by Doug Randolph.

I remember several years ago visiting Chanticleer with a friend of mine and her mother and grandmother. Grandma was in her 90s and was able to make her way through the first part of the garden at a pretty decent pace. But by the time we were at the top of the hill, before reaching the view of the pond, she needed to sit down and rest her weary body. I will never forget the sight of her sinking into a relaxed state on this massive stone ‘sofa’. Who would have ever thought it possible that such a hard stone piece could be so comfortable? The furniture was designed by Chris Woods and Doug Randolph.

The ruins garden, which was designed by Chris Woods, now the director of Mendocino Coast Botanic Garden and Mara Baird, a very talented landscape architect located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, is breath taking. It deserves to have an article written solely about the inspiration behind it. In prior visits I was taken by its water elements. But this time, I was drawn to the cut out windows, which were Chris’ idea.

And to the end of the 2008 gardening season at Chanticleer, a simple planting of Sporobolus heterolepis.

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

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest  

Fran Sorin
9 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Frances December 3, 2008, 7:02 pm

Hi Fran, what a good idea, to show us the growing season shots and the current ones. The gardens there look inviting and well designed in all seasons. I like how you can notice some of the hardscape now that there are not flowers vying for your attention. The water fountain is a delight!

There are so many other handcrafted elements that I didn’t photograph that are awesome. Everywhere that you turn in that garden, you are greeted by delicious surprises. Fran

Pam/Digging December 3, 2008, 7:27 pm

I was so blown away by this garden when I visited in early July, so I’m happy to see pics of it again. We marveled over all those craftsman details when we were there: the water fountain, the bridge rails. Did you notice, in each garden, the handcrafted boxes that held the plant lists? Each garden’s box is different and was crafted in the style of that garden.

I took a lot of pictures of the woodland paths, which were intricately laid with pieces of stone and wood. Amazing attention to detail.

I’m astounded to see that the Teacup Garden is completely dismantled for winter, huge agaves and all. I know from personal experience what a job it is to move those spiky plants, and I don’t envy the staff having to do that twice a year, every year.

I do remember you saying that you were visiting this summer. Am so happy that you loved it. Yes, I am familar with the handcrafted boxes that holds the plant lists (which are a great tool to have as well). I think the woodland has become my favorite garden. Lisa Roper, the horticulturist who designed and planted it, has been there for many, many years. She did do a phenomal job. And as I said in another post, they are now planning a native woodland garden which I am really excited about. Yep, it is amazing with the teacup garden how it looks now and what it takes to store those plants. Maybe we can get Dan on to explain about it. Fran

Organic garden guy December 3, 2008, 8:28 pm

Simply amazing, I have never seen these gardens before. The workmanship with both the gardens and stone is great I love the stone bench. Many great ideas for my future homestead


Hey Organic Garden Guy-
Thanks for stopping by. Am glad that you had a chance to check out the post. If you scroll down the left hand side on our front page, you’ll find the link for Chanticleer. You might want to get on and read more about it. It’s history is interesting. Hope to see more of you over here on GGW. Fran

Heirloom Gardener December 3, 2008, 11:04 pm

I love Chanticleer and try to visit a few times each year. Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures of the off season.

Hey Heirloom Gardener-
Am glad to see that there is another person from around this area who finds Chanticleer hard to resist. By the way, I spoke with Bill Thomas, the Exec. Director, when I was there this week. And they are planning a native woodland garden behind the greenhouses! Whoopee! Won’t that be neat??? Fran

Helen/patientgardener December 4, 2008, 8:20 am

Thanks for much for sharing these – I am feeling much better about my garden now which looks so dull and forlorn at the moment. I think we become obsessed with the garden having to look fantastic all year and sometimes this just isnt the case and that is alright to.

Yep, I agree. It is so easy to get down on ourselves when peering out our windows or taking a walk around the garden this time of year. Am glad that this post cheered you up a bit. Remember, there’s always spring! Fran

Jean December 4, 2008, 1:05 pm

What a great post. I can just imagine all the hard work that goes into putting the garden to bed for the winter. Chanticleer has been on my list of gardens to visit for some time now and this proves why.

Am glad you enjoyed it. Chanticleer is definitely worth a visit. They call it a pleasure garden…and it truly is. Unlike a botanical garden, Chanticleer is personal, yet each garden area has its own personality. It’s divine. Fran

Benjamin December 5, 2008, 10:26 am

Now THAT’S what I want my prairie dropseed to look like (they are still too young). I’m trying to get a mini garden like the one above around a weeping white birch. I have hope now that it’ll look ok!

And imagine…This photo doesn’t capture the entire planting undulating down a gently sloping ‘hill’. If I could have one ‘image’ in my garden, it would be that one. It reminds of a beautiful Bach Fugue….it has everything in it…simplicity, reflection, geometry, a well thought out ‘plan’ and beauty. Am glad you enjoyed. Fran

Lynn December 5, 2008, 8:23 pm

Wow, they MOVE that giant agave in winter? Now I don’t feel so silly being freaked out that it was there when I saw pictures of it summer…thanks for a great post about yet another inspirational garden to visit.

Yes, not only do they move that agave….but how about all of those huge banana plants? It takes alot of manpower plus I would guess…some very large cranes…..I would love to watch them actually dismantle the garden and see how they do it!! Fran

Kris at Blithewold December 9, 2008, 9:28 am

I hope one of these days to make it down to Chanticleer – thanks for the virtual tour! Meanwhile there’s work to be done at Blithewold and if anyone is interested in being reassured by another sepia toned garden in the winter, we’re open all year.

I’m impressed that Blithewold is open all year, as is Longwood Gardens which is in Kennett Square, Pa. Am always disappointed that Chanticleer closes for the winter. Fran

[shareaholic app=”recommendations” id=”13070491″]