Whether you’re a master gardener, a gardener wannabe, or kill every plant you bring home, Chanticleer Garden should be on your bucket list. Located in Wayne, PA, within 30 minutes of Philadelphia, Chanticleer is truly a pleasure garden. It’s easy to see why it’s a mainstay on lists of the 10 best public gardens in the U.S.
This beautiful setting was once a summer home of Christine and Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., who headed a Philadelphia pharmaceutical company that ultimately merged with Merck. Rosengarten was inspired to name the property “Chanticlere” after the estate in Thackeray’s 1855 novel “The Newcomes.” The idea is not to affix a label to all the plants or be a category, such as a Japanese garden or a native plant garden. Rather, visitors should feel like they are guests of the Rosengarten’s, and the friendly welcome staff invites you to feel free to sit and enjoy the views and stroll the lawn areas.
Here at Chanticleer, gardening is art in its purest form. The media runs the gamut from plants, trees, woodlands, stone, and metal and the tableau is ever changing, never boring. The 35-acre garden includes more than 5,000 taxa or types of plants recorded in the database, with many that are temporary not cataloged.
Enjoy a Teacup Garden and the Chanticleer Terrace with seasonal and tropical plants. Bell’s Woodland features plants of the eastern North American forest, with azaleas, foam flowers, and ferns, as well as wetland plants including skunk cabbages, rushes, and sedges. There’s also the Asian Woods, Water Garden, Stream Garden, Ruin Garden, and the Cut-Flower and Vegetable Garden, where a potager, enclosed by paling, contains a mix of vegetables grown for taste and ornament.
For a behind-the-garden-gate look at Chanticleer, “The Art of Gardening” by R. William Thomas, is a great read, with design inspiration and planting techniques from Chanticleer. The head gardener/executive director compares his role to that of the conductor of a chamber orchestra, where individual outstanding talent melds to produce, instead of an orchestra of voices, but an orchestra of plantings.
What is art? For the Chanticleer staff, “. . . art is an everyday experience. Out gardeners are artists in every sense of the word, and they work in all media from plants to paint, wood, stone, metal, and clay…They create a garden experience where scent, sight, color, sound, and texture combine to make three-dimensional works of art that continually grow and change.”
In addition to horticultural expertise, many of the talents of the Chanticleer staff are found throughout the garden — ranging from wood working, stone carving, painting, and metal working.
Chanticleer is a 35-acre public garden that’s open for admission from April through October; Wednesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm.; Friday evenings open until 8 pm.
For GPS use, please use the following address: 786 Church Road, Wayne, PA 19087-4713
Heads up: There’s limited parking (lot holds 120 cars and can fill on weekends and Friday evening) so arrive early and wander at will.
Note: There is no food available onsite, although picnicking is generally allowed in designated areas. Painting is allowed on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during open hours.
Wheelchair accessible, although not available for rent at the garden. The main path is just under a mile, and is probably accessible for most. Parts of the garden may be steep, and it’s recommended that you discuss with the receptionist the best path for your tour. Wheelchairs are Check out the courses, workshops and symposiums.