Chanticleer’s Flower/Vegetable Garden and magical Bell’s Woodland


During our full day at Chanticleer Garden in the Philadelphia area last month, Diana and I left for lunch around 1:30 pm and returned two hours later with full bellies plus a picnic dinner stashed in our bags. On Friday nights in the summer, the garden stays open late — until 8 pm! — and allows visitors to picnic on the grounds. I wouldn’t have missed the chance to photograph the garden in the softer light of evening, and being able to bring in dinner was a bonus. (If you’re considering it too, arrive no later than 4 pm in order to get a parking spot. There are only 120 spots. Once those are filled, people are turned away.)


Re-entering the garden, we headed opposite the Teacup Garden in order to see the sections we hadn’t visited that morning. The Cut Flower Garden, with willowy arches and frothy flowerbeds, soon came into view.


I was more drawn to the Vegetable Garden, with its diagonal lines and lathe tuteurs resembling oversized carrots half-pulled from the soil.


Another view


As in other parts of the garden, Chanticleer provides a plant list in a charming, handcrafted box. (Plant lists are helpfully available online too, although only a few star plants are accompanied by photos, making it challenging at times to find the plant you’re looking for.)


The estate’s old stables now function as a garden shed. Bellflower (Campanula medium ‘Champion Pink’) shows off prettily in front.


A closer look


Pink sweet pea climbs a downspout.


We walked down this path…


…and I gasped in surprise. I missed this fallen-tree bridge — and Bell’s Woodland, which starts here — the last time I visited Chanticleer, back in 2008. (Maybe the bridge is new since then?) It would have been easy to miss this time, as the path is hidden in a back corner and on the quieter side of the garden. But we didn’t, and so began another exploration of delight.


Hanging realistically from a tree branch, a plant-list box in the shape of a hornet’s nest — complete with a few hornets! — sets an almost fairy-tale mood.


You can’t help using a cautious touch as you open it up.


The bridge is a marvel of verisimilitude as well. It’s made to resemble a fallen, partially decayed beech tree, and you enter through vine-draped roots.


The “decayed” portion is open to sunlight and, just as a real fallen tree does, supports the growth of colonizing plants.


Moss, rocks, and a mason bee house are tucked along one side of the “log.”


Delicate flowers spring out of a mossy bed.


More plants growing over the old fallen tree


A wider view shows the planted sides and jagged, “broken” end of the tree bridge.


And here’s how it looks from the outside. Isn’t it wonderful? You feel rabbit-sized as you walk through it.


Chairs are tucked into the woodland garden here and there, inviting you to sit and enjoy the peaceful scene.


I took a seat and discovered a stone representation of an old tree stump — like petrified wood — complete with moss and other colonizing plants inside.


Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) was showy in the shade.


Clematis too, its upper half reaching for the sun.


From the shady woods we emerged into a glade of curving green lawn bisected by a sunken, stone-walled stream: Bell’s Run Creek.


Bridges cross here and there, allowing you to explore both sides of the creek.


A dogwood was blooming at the edge of the woods.


An old waterwheel that once pumped water up to the swimming pool still turns, although it’s no longer in use.


A long view to the waterwheel and dogwood. In the foreground, the stream widens around a weir of stacked stone.


Carnivorous pitcher plants grow in the moist soil.


An oval reflecting pond offers a tranquil spot to pause and take in the view.


Along one side, a stone frog spits water into the pool.


Another beckoning bridge


Sticking to the edge of the garden, I rediscovered several wonderful slate paths and tiny patios.


This spiraling path of slate pieces laid on edge is one of my favorite artistic features at Chanticleer, and it was one of the inspirations for my own sunburst stone path around my stock-tank pond.


Pure magic, a surprise element that invites you into a secret-seeming space


Farther along the path, a stone-and-slate starburst suddenly appears at your feet, giving you a reason to slow down, not hurry on through.


Stars within stars. I love unique paving materials like this. Paths can be art too!


One more — a whorl of slate laid on edge for a tiny patio, with two small benches angled for conversation.


On a pine tree, a skull haloed with barbed wire is one of the few non-functional pieces of art I noticed in the garden, and it has an incongruously Southwestern vibe. Still, I liked it too. How could I not like anything at magical Chanticleer?

Up Next: The dry and hilly Gravel Garden, one of my favorite parts of Chanticleer. For a look back at the white and gold Tennis Court 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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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.

Festival of Flowers in San Antonio this Saturday: I’ll be speaking!


Central and south Texas gardening friends, are you going to the Festival of Flowers in San Antonio this Saturday? I am! In fact, I’ll be giving a presentation at 10:30 am 10:45 am about how to make a garden that is both water thrifty and beautiful. With eye-candy photos and my top water-saving techniques and water-evoking design ideas, it’ll be a mix of the practical and the creative! After my talk, I’ll be at the book-signing table with copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!, so come on over and say hi and maybe pick up an autographed book for yourself or as a gift.


Other speakers are on tap all day, including Dr. Calvin Finch on butterfly gardening, “Skip” Richter on natural pest control, and Ray Elizondo on growing daylilies. In the afternoon, catch an organic-gardening roundtable discussion with four experts including Austin’s own John Dromgoole of The Natural Gardener and KLBJ radio show “Gardening Naturally with John Dromgoole.”


Of course there will be plants and garden goods for sale. If you get there early, you may even receive a FREE xeriscape (drought-tolerant) plant, while supplies last, courtesy of San Antonio Water System, co-host of the Festival of Flowers.

Here are the official details:

Saturday, May 28
9 am to 5 pm
San Antonio (Alzafar) Shrine Auditorium
901 N. Loop 1604 West

(Between US Hwy 281 N. and Blanco Rd.)

Tickets available at the door.
Admission $6 adults
Children under 10 free
Free Parking

Carts and wagons welcome. Come and go with hand-stamp. Free plant and package check-room.
ATM on site. Concessions available all day from Augie’s Barbed Wire Barbeque

I hope to see you there!

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.

An Easter wildflower safari


The fields and roadsides of Texas are as brightly colored as a basket of Easter eggs. On Friday my mom, daughter, and I went on a wildflower safari southwest of San Antonio, cruising the country roads around Somerset. While the bluebonnets that far south had already peaked, we did see a few fields of blue, not to mention red, white, and yellow. Come along with me for a virtual Sunday drive, and enjoy the show.


What’s a safari without animals?


We stopped to admire this picturesque scene of a horse and pony grazing in a pasture spangled with wildflowers, mainly Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa).


Along one road we spotted Texas vervain (Verbena halei), a lovely wildflower I hadn’t encountered before.


Fields of Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis), our state flower, are the holy grail of wildflower sightings, and this was the best one we saw, complete with an oil pump and tin-roofed farm buildings — a very Texas scene. The white flowers dotting the field like drifts of snow are…


…white prickly poppy (Argemone albiflora), my mom’s favorite.


They reminded her of fields of cotton.


My favorite combo is the red and blue of Indian paintbrush and bluebonnets.


Barbed wire fences add to the Texas scene, and it’s important not to cross them when viewing wildflowers, as the fields are generally located on private property.


But you can get nice views by shooting between the wire strands, especially if you use a telephoto lens.


The Indian paintbrush was simply spectacular everywhere we went.


Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus), against a field of red paintbrush


Along one dirt road, we found majestically spreading live oaks, with patchwork quilts of wildflowers spread around them.


More white prickly poppy, with Indian paintbrush and a few bluebonnets


Ah, my favorite combo


Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush


Paintbrush mingling with Texas dandelion


More


And more!


This paintbrush field (pictured above as well) surpassed any I’ve ever seen. Paintbrush as far as the eye could see.


Along with horses and cows, goats are a common sight in Texas fields. This one was curious and willing to pose for a picture.


What a floppy-eared cutie!


Happy Easter, kids!

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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