There are a lot of things a pleasure garden needs to be successful: first and foremost, a wide variety of flora to enjoy, ponds or streams, cozy seats tucked away where visitors can relax and enjoy the view. If it’s large enough, one might hope for different areas that present a visitor with a sense of changing scenery, and plenty of hiking trails and paths. Considering my tastes, ruins, or fake ruins known as follies, are always a plus. Perhaps most importantly, though, a garden needs a sense of wonder, and little hidden secrets for a visitor to discover.
Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA has all of these things, and is itself a bit of a hidden secret. Situated on 50 acres, 35 of which are open to the public, Chanticleer was only opened to the public in 1993 after the death of Alfred Rosengarten Jr., whose father had built the estate. Rosengarten Jr. had planned for the longevity of the gardens: he had hired Christopher Woods to develop the garden and when he passed away Woods became the founding Executive Director. Since then the botanical gardens have blossomed, and now there are a variety of sections that include the Asian Woods, which consists of species native to Japan, Korea, and China; a garden in the former tennis courts, a gorgeous pond garden, and a ruin garden built around the reconstructed ruins of Rosengarten’s former house.
Chanticleer was originally built as a summer estate in 1912 for Adolph Rosengarten Sr. and Christine Penrose, and named after the house in the novel The Newcomes. Rosengarten Sr., was president of a family chemical and pharmaceutical business Rosengarten & Sons, which was founded in 1822 and is one of the oldest in the nation. The main factory complex built in 1855 was located between 17th and 18th streets and Catherine and Fitzwater in Philadelphia, and among other products manufactured silver nitrate, morphine sulfate, and quinine, which we primarily know as the chemical that gives tonic water its distinctive taste but is also used to treat malaria. Rosengarten Sr. purchased the two adjoining properties for his children, and they are still part of the property today.
Today, Chanticleer is a lovely maze of gardens that a visitor should reasonable expect to spend at least two hours to explore, although certainly a more leisurely pace and stops to enjoy the scenery should extend that. The gardens are also functional: vegetables are grown, there are classes and workshops about horticulture and art, and furniture is made from wood cut onsite. With over 5,000 species of plants and gardeners ready to answer questions about them, Chanticleer is a true treasure and should not be missed by visitors to the area.
Admission for adults is $12 and children under 13 are free, and the gardens are open between Wednesday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, except for Fridays over the summer, when the site is open until 8pm. Visit their website for more info at https://www.chanticleergarden.org/index.html
Matthew Christopher PA Bryn Mawr Jun 15, 2022 Gardens Nature Reviews