Chanticleer rocks a Gravel Garden


I’m excited to show you the Gravel Garden at Chanticleer, a Philadelphia-area “pleasure garden” I visited with my friend Diana in early June, as it’s one of my favorite spaces. Planted on a long, open slope overlooking the Pond Garden, the Gravel Garden reminds me of Austin in many ways, although the surrounding lush scenery and tall conifers remind me that I’m not in Texas anymore.


Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) with upturned pink petals flourishes here.


A few droopy, white-petaled purple coneflowers add variety — maybe Echinacea pallida?


I love them all.


The hillside is planted like a wildflower meadow, a pollinator’s paradise.


I didn’t find ‘Husker Red’ penstemon on the plant list, but I believe that’s what this pale-pink, burgundy-leaved penstemon is.


It looks wonderful with the purple coneflowers.


A living bouquet


One more


Bees loved the penstemon too.


As you climb the slope, you’re at eye level with the flowers, surrounded by their beauty. Turning around, you get a nice view of the Pond Garden.


But let’s keep going up, climbing granite-block steps…


…and stopping every foot or so to admire blooming plants.


At the top, a gravelly meadow opens to view on the left — incongruously bordered (to my Southwestern eyes) with a golden-hued Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’). Japanese maple and desert-friendly Yucca rostrata — the tall, spherical-headed plant in the background — don’t usually appear together in Texas gardens, after all, but here apparently anything is possible.


The meadow in early June was frothy with white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora), crimson poppies, and Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).


One of the yuccas was sporting a bloom spike.


Feathergrass and white lace flower


Prickly pear cactus and orange poppies, a classic dry-garden combo


A narrow path leads through the small meadow to a pair of stone-slab benches tucked under a redbud. On the left, a silver-blue Agave americana is surrounded by blue fescue ladies-in-waiting.


American agave, ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue, autumn sage (Salvia greggii), and Mexican feathergrass — all familiar to Austin gardeners except the blue fescue.


From the benches you can admire the agave’s muscular form and steely blue color.


Diana got a few shots of it too.


A bright blue sky smeared with white clouds, Yucca rostrata, feathergrass, and poppies — gorgeous!


Another meadowy garden spreads out at the feet of a big old shade tree. The Ruin looms behind. Constructed on the site of the estate owner’s house, which was torn down after his death (it was one of three houses on the property; two remain), the Ruin is a folly “overgrown” with young trees and vines and evoking a sense of mystery and history. I’ll show it in my next post.


Like furniture that’s been dragged outdoors to air out, a stone sofa and two armchairs sit just outside the Ruin and make surprisingly comfortable seats.


Diana and I enjoyed our picnic dinner here (on Fridays in summer, the garden stays open late and allows picnicking), having the couch and chairs all to ourselves — and the glorious view.


Occasionally a few other picnickers wandered over to admire the stone seats and exclaim over the stone remote control on the sofa’s arm. What’s on TV tonight?, joked more than one person.


I lifted my arm at the surrounding garden. This.

Up Next: Chanticleer’s mysterious Ruin Garden. For a look back at the Cut Flower/Vegetable Garden and magical Bell’s Woodland, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Hot flower border, meadowy lawn at Chanticleer’s House Garden


The sun was high when Diana and I exited the Teacup Garden and began to explore Chanticleer‘s House Garden, which unfolds with a view across a tidy croquet lawn. No sign of croquet today — just one cute-as-a-button little girl.


The house itself — the summer home and, eventually, permanent residence of the estate’s founders, Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., and his wife, Christine (their son, Adolf Jr., established the foundation and left Chanticleer to the enjoyment of the public when he died) — is open for tours by reservation. Lacking a reservation, we didn’t see it, but we were there for the garden anyway.


In the formal perennial border lining the main walk, red-flowering perennials and green and gold foliage create a rich color scheme. The midday light was harsh, and I wish we’d come back through in the evening, but we ran out of time — there’s so much to see at Chanticleer.


Golden ivy nearly obscuring an old pot


Red-leaf bananas punch up the color scheme in rounded containers at the edge of the lawn, and a red Japanese maple draws the eye in the distance.


The view from the opposite end


Rooster statuary appears throughout Chanticleer as a wink to its name. Behind the rooster, a meadowy planting of fine fescue makes a surprising appearance in an otherwise formal space. When I was here 8 years ago, this was a parterre garden filled with bronze canna, sedge, and euphorbia — what a change since then!


As a staff member explained, they maintain it through various mowing heights. The edge is mowed closely like a lawn, framing the shaggy center. In between, like a velvety green mat between the frame and the picture, a narrow section is mowed occasionally. The effect is of a wild meadow, but tamed with a “civilized” edge.


This area overlooks a large swimming pool (which I’m surprised hasn’t been replaced with a garden room; does the staff enjoy pool parties after hours? I hope so!) and lovely copper-roofed pool house.


Ahead, a spherical, copper-leaved Japanese maple makes a focal point at the top of a narrow stair. A red rose cascades from a tuteur on the right, and on the left…


…an odd little statue of a boy holding a candlestick puts me in mind of a greedy garden visitor (ahem), rubbing his (or her) hands together, and saying, “Mine. It’s allll mine.”


I’m always excited to see a little bit of home in a faraway garden, like this Mexican grass tree, aka toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum). I love the surprising contrast of a pink dogwood espaliered on the wall behind it. Now that’s a combo I won’t find in Austin. To see it shimmering in the breeze, view my Instagram video.


Another boy statue — bringing in the sheaves?


Sea kale (Crambe maritima)


A lion’s-head wall fountain spills into a rill along one side of the garden, adding Mediterranean flavor…


…especially with citrus tiles and potted succulents.


Another pretty wall fountain, with the figure of a boy spilling water from an urn. Someone has tucked a bouquet into the tiny vase.


Along the sun-warmed balustrade, potted succulents add color and texture.


Potted palms and agaves show up too.


Nearly hidden in a corner, a spiny combo: ‘Jaws’ agave and golden barrel cactus, along with a small, nearly white succulent.


Here’s a porcupine-like Agave stricta.


The garden path to the new Elevated Walk beckons…


…but let’s have one parting glance at the House Garden, this time from the front of the house, where roses tumble romantically from a pillar adorned with another rooster. It was too early in the season to see the hydrangeas flowering in the gravel court (click here to see the hydrangea extravaganza 8 years ago, when I visited in July).


But we enjoyed a brief sit-down in hydrangea-blue Adirondacks before heading on.

Up Next: The new Elevated Walkway and Asian Woods garden at Chanticleer. For a look back at Chanticleer’s Teacup Garden, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Curb appeal Texas-style and remembering the flood


I dined at a flower farm in Blanco, Texas, last weekend, which I plan to write about soon. But for now, a teaser of Blanco charm.

This little red cabin is one of several at Blanco Settlement, a welcoming outpost of 9 rentable cabins, RV hookups, a pavilion, and a gift shop clustered along the scenic Blanco River. My traveling companion and I spotted it as we drove into Blanco, and we couldn’t resist pulling over to take a look. We later learned that slow-flowers maven Debra Prinzing, who’d invited us to the dinner as her garden-writer guests, was staying the night in one of these adorable cabins. I hope it was this one!


Prickly pear in glorious bloom

It’s been one year since the 2015 Memorial Day flood devastated parts of central Texas. Blanco Settlement was hit hard, with 17 RVs washed down the river, the riverbank below the cabins torn away by the force of the water, and an emergency evacuation of park guests that night that kept everyone safe. A year later, as we strolled past the cabins and admired the river view, we casual visitors couldn’t even tell that the flood had happened. A lot of reconstruction over the past year has erased the damage.

I hope Texas never sees another flood like that one. But it’s reassuring to know that a place as charming as this, in such a beautiful setting, can endure.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, 10:45-11:45 am (new time!). Get inspired to save water in your garden during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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