GGW Celebrates Its 9th Birthday: A Special Treat from Chanticleer

– Posted in: Garden Design

2007-06-30 00.27.03.jpg- Photo #1- Chanticleer- Rudbeckia and Buttrflyeed We’re having a celebration at Gardening Gone Wild: it’s our 9th birthday!

When Nan Ondra and I started GGW in July 2007, we never thought about where we would be almost a decade later. We were just two Pennsylvania gardeners and authors with a passion for gardening and a love of perennials and lush overflowing, natural garden designs. Nan has since moved on and continues showcasing her magnificent gardens and horticultural expertise at her personal blog, Hayefield.

2005-05-13 17.41.49.jpg- Chanticleer 2

There have been several twists and turns throughout this almost decade: the fantastic news is that we are thriving and continue to evolve. GGW’s three co-contributors – myself, Saxon Holt, and Debra Lee Baldwin – bring our unique passions, experience, and perspective to this group gardening blog. I am honored that I have such committed and excellent colleagues whose artistry is magical and a gift to all who are touched by them.


Anybody who has followed my posts throughout the years or has read my book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening (New and Revised Edition will be in bookstores and online, September 2016), knows that I have been profoundly impacted by Chanticleer. From the time I became aware of it twenty some years ago, when it was still a private garden and met Chris Woods (who transformed Chanticleer from being an estate into a public pleasure garden with an extraordinary amount of creativity and skillfulness) until today , it continues to inspire, inform, and mesmerize me. I have seen a lot of gardens and there is something incredibly unique about Chanticleer. Kudos to Bill Thomas and all of the gardeners, several who have been there for over two decades, for your non-stop work, ingenuity, and passion.

So, in honor of this celebration, I am offering one free copy of The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Techniques from Chanticleer.


If you’re interested in being the winner of this awesome book, please leave a comment after the post sharing with us what your design inspirations have been. Feel free to write as much as you want. The more compelling, the better.

And in honor of Chanticleer and its place in our heart at GGW, here are links to some of the articles we’ve written about it throughout the years:

Draping Window Containers….Chanticleer!

Pathways In The Garden at Chanticleer

I’ve Discovered Chanticleer

Chanticleer: A Tour With Dan Benarcik

Chanticleer: A Tour With Dan Benarcik, Part 2

Chanticleer Garden in Autumn

Photographing In A Garden

The deadline for entries is Tuesday night, July 19th at midnight EST! So get on your thinking and creativity hats and captivate us with your thoughts!

And keep a look out for the pre-launch of the New Revised Edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening in August when there will be a free book and bonus course give away.


“There’s a rhythm to gardening that soothes our souls and awakens our senses. It’s through observing an celebrating the change of seasons that we can learn to accept our own human journey from gestation to birth, death, and beyond.”  Fran Sorin, from Digging Deep

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
20 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Bracey Tiede July 15, 2016, 10:33 am

This blog was the inspiration for us to visit Chanticleer last year and meet Bill Thomas and several of the other gardeners there. We’ve bought the book (love it) and would love to return some day to see more of the garden. Thank you for introducing Chanticleer to us! Chris Woods has moved to the San Francisco bay area and we’ve met him as well through gardening channels.

Donna@Gardens Eye View July 15, 2016, 10:35 am

Happy Blog Anniversary Fran! I have found much inspiration from this blog and many others over the years. And of course through reading many gardening books. What a wonderful gift to have a chance to win this book.

Cathi Lamoreux July 15, 2016, 11:04 am

Happily, my gardening design preferences are an ever-evolving transformation. My style remains true to the using natives, slightly messy, pollinator-friendly perspective, but over the years I have moved in several different directions. I love that the garden still entices me with its beauty, charm and solace.

Carol Hanson July 15, 2016, 11:57 am

gardening inspiration is everywhere one looks! Today’s blogs are so helpful in that what works is right there and between the photos and the authors prose it’s mine for the taking!

Leon Springer July 15, 2016, 1:38 pm

My wife and I just went to Chanticleer with our niece who had been there before. We ubered on over from her home in Philadelphia and had an amazingly beautiful walk around the grounds, The walkway from the house area down to the lower levels was beautifully constructed offering us a splendid view. Its a “do not miss” site and a highlight of our trip east.

Helen July 15, 2016, 6:25 pm

Visited Chanticleer Wednesday. Pouring rain. Was fantastic! Inspired to plant my own cut flower garden!

Darcy July 16, 2016, 10:02 am

Just wanted to say congrats on your anniversary. I enjoy the blogging very much.

rachel July 16, 2016, 7:28 pm

Wow, it is hard to pinpoint a particular design inspiration, when beauty is everywhere and all things can inspire on the subconscious level! but i think my primary design inspiration is Mother nature herself. her seemingly random patterns always have purpose. her grand, sweeping masses achieve graceful simplicity. and the silhouettes of her trees and columnar cacti were made only for the moonlight to behold.
in the gardening world, plantings always seem to transcend the gardener’s intention – mixing and mingling in unexpected ways, becoming habitats and oases for newfound friends, sowing seeds in spaces the gardener didn’t consider. mother nature is visionary!

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:30 am

Darcy- Thanks for your kind words. Hope you’re having a great summer! Fran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:31 am

Helen- Oh my! You lucky lady. Chanticleer’s cutting garden is reminiscent of Giverny…’s one of my favorite places to spend time in. Fran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:32 am

Leon- Am so glad that you made the trip out to the ‘burbs to see Chanticleer. I know that walkway well and it does set the stage for what is yet to come! Thanks for commenting. Fran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:33 am

Carol- I agree with you about today’s blogs in so many arenas. The other area online for gardening that is a feast for the eyes is Thanks for commenting. F ran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:35 am

Cathi- Thanks for commenting. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve experienced several different directions. And quite frankly, a little messy is my kind of garden. You are very blessed that your garden still mesmerizes you. Imagine if everyone felt as you did!! Fran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:37 am

Hi Donna,

So good to hear from you. Am glad you feel inspired from a variety of sources. Sometimes inspiration comes from places or experiences when we least expect it. I hope you’re having a good summer. Fran

Fran Sorin July 17, 2016, 7:40 am

Dear Bracy-

How delightful that one of our posts from GGW inspired you to visit Chanticleer last year. Well, if you spent time with Bill Thomas, and Dan Benarcik and Lisa Roper….just to name a few…. I’m sure you learned about how long they’ve worked in the garden, etc. The set up there, I think, may be unique in the field of horticulture. Each gardener has their own gardens to work on, create, re-design, etc…..and I’m quite sure knowing Bill, that they are given a lot of autonomy. They really are true artists, no? Yep, I spent time with Chris and Andrea last year when I was at the SF Flower Show. He is quite a guy!! Fran

Ruth July 19, 2016, 9:46 am

Growing up, in the UK, Mum was the gardener, people would traipse In for her to rescue plants, or trade them, and she’d sell a few. I’d be dragged to flower shows and gardens, but at the first sight of the Piet Oudolph borders at Wisley I knew I’d found a style I loved.

Fran Sorin July 20, 2016, 7:58 am

Ruth- I understand about Wisley….and of course Piet’s work. He is the master! Thanks for commenting. Fran

Fran Sorin July 20, 2016, 8:00 am

Rachel- You are the winner of the book. Please send me your contact information and I’ll get it sent out to you immediately. Send your information to: [email protected] and place in subject matter line: WINNER OF GGW CONTEST!! Congratulations. I thought what you wrote was beautiful. Thank you. Fran

Sodding oakville October 10, 2016, 8:01 pm

Happy anniversary Fran! I am new to your blogs but i will a good feeling that i will be a regular on your blog.

Greenwood Nursery October 15, 2016, 1:49 pm

Hi Fran – congratulations on your blog-a-versary! Looking forward to reading about your gardening ideas over the next 9 years. Cheers! – Cheryl

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