A glorious light – Chanticleer in autumn twilight

An event to get to, Noel Kingsbury speaking at Chanticleer, so I arrived late afternoon of October 24 to see the garden in approaching twilight. I usually feel the need to make the trek around the entire garden, but time being short, I chose just to see what I wanted and let it go at that.

Tea Cup Garden

I started with the Tea Cup Garden behind the smaller of the two former residences on the estate. It’s taken on an increasingly tropical look over the past few years, and at the entrance court was this fruit-laden pomegranate.

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The bananas in the main courtyard were especially effective breaking up the late afternoon light. Plantings in the Tea Cup Garden change dramatically year to year.

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The fountain is one of the few unchanging features.

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Rounding the corner you come to this scene of a golden afternoon, looking out over the Tennis Count Garden, signaled by the tall plumes of Arundo donax in the middle distance.

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By this time of year, the Tennis Court Garden has gone over, so I’m showing only its edges. This is Lindera salicifolia, which until recently I thought was Lindera glauca ‘Angustifolia’, of which I just bought five for my garden. I anticipate my L. Angustifolia will give me equal color once they settle in. This is an extraordinary shrub for its color and graceful, loose form.

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Here Amsonia hubrictii and ground covers.

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An interesting shade ground cover down in the Tennis Court Garden. Chanticleer’s on line plant list identifies it as Tinantia pringlei. I don’t know the plant but assume it’s perennial since I’ve seen it in past years.

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Chanticleer House and Terraces

The entrance to the main house, with roosters on columns at the front court entry.

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The gravel in the circular entry is always meticulously raked into waves and concentric circles.

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The exotically planted walk around to the main courtyard at the back of the house …

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… which takes you by this view over the Great Lawn below.

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The terrace …

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… also lavishly planted with tender plants.

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An amazing golden form of Ficus lyrata decorates (yes, decorates!) the walk along the croquet lawn.

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This paved square in the lawn changes every year (change being a constant at Chanticleer) … and for some reason always makes me think of a chess board and Alice in Wonderland.

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One of Dan Benarcik’s show-off plantings near the pool.

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This plant with the huge leaves is Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’, a large form of Japanese rice paper plant. I’ve planted one in my small Brooklyn garden. If it survives, I think I may need to make some major readjustments in years to come.

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Going down a narrow exit stairway, you encounter this humorous Marcia Donahue ceramic sculpture of bamboo with rooster’s combs, then descend a long path to the Great Lawn and the Serpentine.

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The Serpentine

Serpentine refers to the serpentine shape of the planting. It’s always some agricultural crop and this one is my favorite. A repeat planting from three or four years ago. If I had my druthers, I’d ask for this every year. It’s extraordinary paired with the Little Bluestem.

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You may think I have too many photos of this planting. I don’t.

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And across the Great Lawn, Muhlenbergia capillaris in full autumn bloom.

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The Pond Garden

Moving on to the Pond Garden, the spires of Rudbeckia maxima in seed …

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… in the distance the billowy white of a plant I remember from my childhood. It grew profusely in the wetlands of Bear Creek, just south of my home town in Mississippi. I saw it in bloom every autumn, but no one could tell me its name.

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Only 50 years later did I learn what it was, on A Tidewater Gardener, the blog of a fellow gardener–Baccharis halimifolia.

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Dry Garden and Ruin Garden

Running out of time, I headed up the hill via the Dry Garden to the Ruin Garden.

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The Ruin has never looked so well to me as in this late light, with the brilliant autumn hues and hazy sunlight casting the interior stone walls into blue shade.

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24 thoughts on “A glorious light – Chanticleer in autumn twilight

    1. As I recall, my visit was just a couple of days after yours. And I believe you had Bill Thomas as a tour guide. It’s hard not to take a good photo in that late light.

  1. What beautiful photos. I want to visit Chanticleer and this is a great introduction. Amazing plantings, a bit overwhelming in fact. Looks to be the kind of place you need to visit and revisit to absorb what it has to offer. Ah well, even a single visit will be well worthwhile.

    BTW I wanted to add one of your photos to my Pinterest. Do you have a policy about that? I don’t want to step on toes or annoy you in any way. Thanks.

  2. It can be overwhelming on a first visit so I recommend just taking in what you can, assuming you can get back for other visits. The layout of the garden is actually very simple, sort of a great circle with interconnections. Many different parts to be sure, but it’s easy to navigate and the maps they provide are quite good. You can also look up plant lists for each part of the garden on the Chanticleer web site. I don’t mind if you post a photo to Pinterest, though I’d like it to link back to my blog if possible.

  3. Thanks for the lovely photographs, James, a real pleasure. I’m especially partial to the — is it a? — variegated ivy in the last photograph. I’ve never been partial to variegation but this is lovely. By the way, have you ever experimented with different kinds of mosses? There’s a mail order company that sells different kinds. I believe the great moss garden in Kyoto has many more. I’d like to go there sometime. Ross

    1. Ross, according to the Chanticleer plant list it’s Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’. I wanted to say something about it, but I couldn’t find much information. It appears to be hardy down to zone 5. The source listed was Dan Benarcik, a star gardener at Chanticleer. Strange source to list. At present, I assume it’s hard to find, but that’s likely to change, and I could be wrong. I’d appreciate getting information on the moss mail order company.

  4. The Baccharis shrub–do you plant to plant one/some at Federal Twist? I think it would look fantastic as a bright counterpoint.

    1. I wish I could add several to the garden.

      It’s interesting. I used to drive to a Septa commuter rail stop north of Philly to commute in two days a week and that station was surrounded by baccharis. If only I could take a spade there and dig a few up. But I can’t, so I ordered one from Kurt Bluemel’s nursery, and I’m planning to drive to Maryland this weekend to pick up that one and a bunch of other plants. I wanted two, but they seem to have planted almost all of them in Kurt’s garden. Those at Chanticleer, by the way, are the only ones I’ve ever seen in a formal garden. Now the following may be TMI. When visiting Amalia Robredo in Uruguay two years ago, I learned that they have several different baccharis, some of which you wouldn’t recognize as baccharis.

  5. No, you don’t have too many photos of The Serpentine Garden, James, really beautiful. I love the order.
    Methinks you are charmed by Chanticleer. Which I cannot blame you for, for it brings back to me the feeling of why we’re all gardening, and that’s to create something awesome, in the real sense of the word.
    Happy birthday, by the way.

    1. Faisal, I’m lucky to live just over an hour’s drive from Chanticleer. I feel very fortunate to have easy access to one of the outstanding gardens in the US, maybe the world. You’re right about why we garden: “to create something awesome, in the real sense of the word.” Thanks for the bday wishes.

  6. gorgeous! Amazing! I visited chanticleer for the first time last summer, and now I realize I must see it in fall. The sorghum-bluestem planting was incredible in the summer…I was like you, snapping dozens of photos of it, desperate to capture it. Its fall show is mind blowing. Thanks for the tour!

    1. I’m happy to find another fan of the serpentine. And so glad for the return to sorghum this year. I wish the sorghum could remain the permanent planting in this area.

  7. Great travelogue of a great garden. Love the light, love your perspective. Love the plants and sense of place.
    Truly a world-class destination for gardeners to find or lose themselves in.

  8. I like the order of great blocks of planting in the Serpentine garden. I believe they plant a similar way in parts of the Jardin Plume, one on the list to visit.
    I love the ruin, very tranquil in the Autumn light.

    1. Interesting comparison to the Jardin Plume, which is on my list–if I ever get there. The Ruin is best in autumn light. The stone is relatively new and needs to age. Autumn gives it that patina missing in brighter, whiter light.

  9. Wow, James…somehow I missed this post earlier…I came upon it just now while doing a Google search for Eragrostis. I’m absolutely in love with the Serpentine Bed…that mass of Little Bluestem is breathtaking…I would love to replicate that someday!

    1. Scott, the Serpentine is a wonderful ornament to Chanticleer. I particularly love the sorghum with the Little Bluestem. It changes every year, so I wonder what they will do for 2014. As for the Eragrostis, I’ve thought of trying it out for the pink clouds of flower, but it seems a rather dull grass the rest of the time, so I haven’t been willing to give it space (assuming it wouldn’t immediately die in my wet garden).

  10. Hello James,

    Nice pics of Chanticleer in autumn. The pink-plumed grass is Muhlenbergia capillaris (pink muhly grass). Eragrostis doesn’t grow as tall and produces plumes closer to ground level.

  11. Having just seen Chanticleer in early summer finery, I loved your mellow autumn take on the fall garden. I wish I lived just an hour away….. but I’m happy, at least, that I’m 15 minutes from the Toronto Botanical Garden.

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