While I’ve heard this second-hand that Chanticleer is considered one the country’s best gardens, after a recent visit to this “pleasure garden” with Billie Jean Isbell, in this writer’s humble opinion, I’m inclined to agree. I always have such an enjoyable– or one might say “pleasurable”- time there.
While it had been several years since my last visit, there were certain areas that I made a bee-line for. It’s amazing how much is packed into this 30-acre garden. First stop, and the place where I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time at, is the Teacup Garden. While an Italianate fountain is the design focal point, my eyes focus on the myriad selection of exotic and tropical plants. Their website describes as a “seemingly chaotic opera of scents and sounds, colors and textures.”
Of course, the Ruin Garden is a “must-see” with its Great Hall, Library, and Pool Room, all displaying a stone-cold sense of humor. Note a past issue of Green Dragon featured a few photos I took on an earlier visit. Wishing I had taken more, I made certain this time to shoot plenty of photos. I didn’t seem to recall the extensive terraced rock garden immediately below resembling more an alpine meadow that mountainside. There were some well-placed and very large planted troughs among the plantings.
Beyond the rock garden (or Gravel Garden so-called at Chanticleer) meandering ever downhill is the Minder Woods and beyond the Ponds Garden (it was too early for their showy display of lotus) and Asian Woods Garden, noted for its collection of woodlanders native to Korea, Japan, and China – not however in its prime in early June. One notable addition (at least I don’t recall) was a tea house comfort station tucked away amidst the rhododendrons and conifers.
Lastly, Billie Jean and I visited the House Garden with the estate home, inviting lawn chairs, and welcoming shade for us to relax and enjoy still more plantings and planters at poolside, terrace and sun porch featuring a mix of tropicals and year-round plantings.
Poppies in all their brilliance were at peak bloom throughout the grounds and one could anticipate the next show emerging in the large drifts of crocosmia, kniphofia, lillium and much more. The estate, originally noted for its wonderful tree and shrub plantings, are in themselves worthy of a focused visit, and which I confess I could only take in appreciatively but peripherally. This is a great place to come simply to relax and have a picnic and several visitors seemed to be doing just that.
To quote again from the Garden’s website, “Chanticleer is indeed a pleasure garden, offering an escape from the rush of every day life and a place where one can feel like a personal guest of the Rosengarten family [its former owners].” If you go, Chanticleer is located north and west of Philadelphia, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-476, and about a 4-hour drive from downtown Ithaca.
Carol posted more pictures at flickr.