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.
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10 Responses

  1. Diana Studer says:

    The three layers of grass is surprisingly effective, for something so simple to achieve.

    The two garden ‘gnomes’ rather menacing. Shudder.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Haha, I can see a certain menacing quality to the first one, for sure. He’s my favorite of the two, though. I like that hint of darkness, I guess. —Pam

  2. Kris P says:

    Oh, to have gobs of space and piles of money (plus rain)! Thanks for the tour. You couldn’t have found a better model to anchor your first shot than that little girl.

  3. I love that meadowy area.

  4. Beautiful. You shared lots of little details tucked here and there in the garden. I did find those little garden statues odd, but interesting touches. Guess that’s the point – to make you think about them.

  5. Wendy says:

    Ever since reading the beautiful book, THE ART OF GARDENING, I have been wanting to see Chanticleer. So glad you’re having this wonderful tour and are sharing it with all of us!

    Congrats again on all the wonderful and deserved accolades on your new book as well, Pam. Love seeing your book mentioned and your smiling face in Garden Design magazine too! Keep it up! :)))

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