Chanticleer Garden is a 48-acre botanical garden built on the grounds of the Rosengarten estate, which was built in 1912 as a “summer cottage” for Christine Penrose and Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., owner of a Philadelphia pharmaceutical company specializing in producing quinine.
The garden isn’t as old as the estate — it’s only 30 years old, having been established in 1993. Immense shade trees give the gardens the illusion of greater age, and provides the bones of the varied gardens.
You’ll notice the rooster motif immediately: weather vanes and carved stone roosters can be found throughout the estsatet, and it makes sense that the name of the estate is Chanticleer, a French word meaning rooster. The gardens consist of a collection of sweeping, open lawns and large trees, with a variety of gardens, such as the Asian Woods, the Pond Garden, the Teacup Garden, Minder Woods, the Ruin Garden (the Minder House, built in 1925, was razed in 1999 to offer a series of spaces, pools and fountains), and a tradition Vegetable Garden, among others.
One of the delights of the garden is the curled elevated walkway that draws you down below the main house into the expansive gardens. A variety of grasses and unusual perennials are planted on the slope; when we were there in late summer, bees and butterflies were there in abundance.
Chanticleer Garden quickly became a favorite with my husband and me. We loved the informal (and seemingly random) array of flowers — old standards like marigolds mixed with more exotic, even old looking angelica gigas and the remains of the allium.
We loved the profusion of color, yellows against reds and whites. Other gardens, such as Longwood Gardens, offer a variety of exceptionally formal, orderly gardens, all delightful and inspiring to be sure.
Chanticleer is more informal, almost like what you’d plant in your house — striving for the formal look, only not ever quite achieving it.
If you go, you’ll notice the photos with this article only go so far down the 1-mile path that encircles the estate. Through a camera malfunction/user error, I only came home with a third of the photos I thought I’d snapped along the delightful walk.
So that means you need to go yourself to experience the pond gardens and the exuberant lotus in bloom in late July, the serene Ruin Garden and its water table and fireplace mantels planted in cactus and succulents.
Know before you go: The gardens are open April through October; house tours are offered on Saturdays.
Getting there: 786 Church Road, Wayne, PA
Hours: April through October, Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.