Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

A garden a day - Chanticleer

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It's Monday - way too early to think about the coming weekend - but this weekend (beginning on Friday, May 7) is different. It's National Public Gardens day, an event created by the American Public Gardens Association to encourage visitation and appreciation of the hundreds of fabulous gardens open to the public around the country and their role in conservation and environmental stewardship. The date is strategically chosen to coincide with Mother's Day weekend, so it really is the perfect time to get out and finally see that local garden that makes you say "I need to stop in there sometime!" every time you drive by.
To celebrate and to get you inspired to visit your local public gardens this weekend, I'll post an album of a public garden I've visited every day this week. I'm going to start with Chanticleer, a truly delightful garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. Formerly a private estate, it has been open to the public since 1993.

Chanticleer is "a pleasure garden" - not a botanical garden. Their beds, borders and garden areas are designed to be sensual experiences that allow the visitor to simply revel in the beauty and possibilities of plants. There are plant lists stationed in every garden on the grounds, but very few labels on plants to distract from the imaginative plantings. And talk about imaginative - I can say without reservation that the staff at Chanticleer are some of the most creative and passionate in the business. Click through my album and see for yourself - in fact, click through more than once: The first time just to enjoy the photos, and the second time to pick out the abundant design lessons that you can apply to your garden. Enjoy!

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The elegant silhouette of this mature linden tree is especially dramatic viewed from the bottom of the hill.

1 The elegant silhouette of this mature linden tree is especially dramatic viewed from the bottom of the hill.

A winding path leads toward the serpentine beds.

2 A winding path leads toward the serpentine beds.

This is a yellow magnolia - 'Judy Zuk', named for the former president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It is special even among yellow magnolias for the pinkish flush at the base of each tepal.

3 This is a yellow magnolia - 'Judy Zuk', named for the former president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It is special even among yellow magnolias for the pinkish flush at the base of each tepal.

The serpentine bed was recently planted with flax.

4 The serpentine bed was recently planted with flax.

Under a beech tree, seedlings or suckers (couldn't tell which) emerge with a pretty pink-russet color. Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) grows alongside.

5 Under a beech tree, seedlings or suckers (couldn't tell which) emerge with a pretty pink-russet color. Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) grows alongside.

First time you've seen this plant? It won't be the last. This is Syneilesis aconitifolia, a daisy relative from Asia and it is bound to become a hugely popular foliage plant for shade. It is hardy to zone 4.

6 First time you've seen this plant? It won't be the last. This is Syneilesis aconitifolia, a daisy relative from Asia and it is bound to become a hugely popular foliage plant for shade. It is hardy to zone 4.

This turf path leads up through snowball viburnum (V. macrocephalum) and many varieties of hostas.

7 This turf path leads up through snowball viburnum (V. macrocephalum) and many varieties of hostas.

Flowers of Styrax japonica. We're about to enter Chanticleer's Asian woods - a shady streamside garden full of botanical delights.

8 Flowers of Styrax japonica. We're about to enter Chanticleer's Asian woods - a shady streamside garden full of botanical delights.

Arisaema are hugely popular among plant collectors. Though the same species as our native jack in the pulpit, the Asian species are much showier. This is Arisaema thunbergii ssp. urashima which is of note for its extremely long spadix.

9 Arisaema are hugely popular among plant collectors. Though the same species as our native jack in the pulpit, the Asian species are much showier. This is Arisaema thunbergii ssp. urashima which is of note for its extremely long spadix.

Hopefully this photo gives you an idea of just how long it is - look carefully and you can see that it ends way over on the green foliage to the back right. It's about 3 feet long!

10 Hopefully this photo gives you an idea of just how long it is - look carefully and you can see that it ends way over on the green foliage to the back right. It's about 3 feet long!

Arisaema sikokianum - the stuff that plant nerd's dreams are made of! But normal gardeners like me can certainly appreciate this stunner.

11 Arisaema sikokianum - the stuff that plant nerd's dreams are made of! But normal gardeners like me can certainly appreciate this stunner.

I think this is Arisaema ringens, but I'm not 100% sure. I do know that I love the colors and pattern, which remind me of striped pajamas.

12 I think this is Arisaema ringens, but I'm not 100% sure. I do know that I love the colors and pattern, which remind me of striped pajamas.

A path through the Asian woods.

13 A path through the Asian woods.

Hang on to your hat! This is Cypripedium japonicum, and it blew wizened old gardeners like Andrew Beckman and I away. Its always a bit of a thrill to see orchids thriving in a garden, but this was a special treat.

14 Hang on to your hat! This is Cypripedium japonicum, and it blew wizened old gardeners like Andrew Beckman and I away. Its always a bit of a thrill to see orchids thriving in a garden, but this was a special treat.

And how amazingly gorgeous is that foliage? The gardener told us that it actually persists through the season, too.

15 And how amazingly gorgeous is that foliage? The gardener told us that it actually persists through the season, too.

Another Arisaema sikokianum, this time with some dainty epimedium flowers.

16 Another Arisaema sikokianum, this time with some dainty epimedium flowers.

More Claytonia virginica, this time growing amongst dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens').

17 More Claytonia virginica, this time growing amongst dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens').

This elegant bridge was specially built for this garden - you can read more about Chanticleer's bespoke features on their website, www.chanticleergarden.org

18 This elegant bridge was specially built for this garden - you can read more about Chanticleer's bespoke features on their website, www.chanticleergarden.org

Chanticleer gardeners are truly adept colorists, if you haven't noticed yet. Witness this eye catching combination of a bright gold hosta and pink primula.

19 Chanticleer gardeners are truly adept colorists, if you haven't noticed yet. Witness this eye catching combination of a bright gold hosta and pink primula.

Another stunning orchid in the Japanese woodland - this one is Calanthe tricarinata. Though it looks rather tropical and exotic, it's actually hardy to zone 6.

20 Another stunning orchid in the Japanese woodland - this one is Calanthe tricarinata. Though it looks rather tropical and exotic, it's actually hardy to zone 6.

A close up of the flowers - I still can't believe this is actually hardy!

21 A close up of the flowers - I still can't believe this is actually hardy!

Disporum is one of those plants that is native to both the United States and Asia - this showy Asian species is D. flavens.

22 Disporum is one of those plants that is native to both the United States and Asia - this showy Asian species is D. flavens.

Moving to the pond garden now - this sunny site has several small pools and waterfalls. You could spend hours taking in all the horticultural details, like this plant, Orontium aquaticum. I love seeing this plant in bloom.

23 Moving to the pond garden now - this sunny site has several small pools and waterfalls. You could spend hours taking in all the horticultural details, like this plant, Orontium aquaticum. I love seeing this plant in bloom.

It is commonly called goldenclub and is actually native to much of the US (though, unfortunately, it is threatened or endangered in many states). Chanticleer's pond garden is more about habitat than country of origin, like the Asian woods is.

24 It is commonly called goldenclub and is actually native to much of the US (though, unfortunately, it is threatened or endangered in many states). Chanticleer's pond garden is more about habitat than country of origin, like the Asian woods is.

Looking uphill from the pond garden, this wisteria arbor is covered in blooms. I can almost hear the bees!

25 Looking uphill from the pond garden, this wisteria arbor is covered in blooms. I can almost hear the bees!

The master colorists of Chanticleer at work again - they have such an amazing sense for putting together even fleeting moments like the red foliage of an emerging plant mingling with a white flowered anemone.

26 The master colorists of Chanticleer at work again - they have such an amazing sense for putting together even fleeting moments like the red foliage of an emerging plant mingling with a white flowered anemone.

I heard this guy before I saw him - what frog wouldn't want to live out his days among variegated iris?!

27 I heard this guy before I saw him - what frog wouldn't want to live out his days among variegated iris?!

Geum triflorum, also known as prairie smoke, has a really unusual flower and great color. It is not at all typical of Geum, and if the word

28 Geum triflorum, also known as prairie smoke, has a really unusual flower and great color. It is not at all typical of Geum, and if the word "prairie" in the common name didn't tip you off, it is indeed an American native.

This is Geum coccineum 'Borisii' - the more common face of geum. It makes me wonder why more people don't grow this beauty!

29 This is Geum coccineum 'Borisii' - the more common face of geum. It makes me wonder why more people don't grow this beauty!

Iris germanica - this is the iris that the fleur-de-lys is based on.

30 Iris germanica - this is the iris that the fleur-de-lys is based on.

Looking down the slope, you can see the roof of the spring house on the left and more inventive plantings. It isn't all about the little herbaceous things - there are plenty of woody plants that lend structure and texture.

31 Looking down the slope, you can see the roof of the spring house on the left and more inventive plantings. It isn't all about the little herbaceous things - there are plenty of woody plants that lend structure and texture.

A blue haze of forget-me-not. This self-sower gets around, but fortunately, it looks good just about anywhere.

32 A blue haze of forget-me-not. This self-sower gets around, but fortunately, it looks good just about anywhere.

Chanticleer has a really fantastic bog garden. The foliage of these carnivorous plants is just barely emerging from the marshy ground, but these dramatic flowers provide plenty of show in the meantime.

33 Chanticleer has a really fantastic bog garden. The foliage of these carnivorous plants is just barely emerging from the marshy ground, but these dramatic flowers provide plenty of show in the meantime.

This is a liverwort - a primitive plant related to moss. The funny structures you see are called gemma cups, and they contain spore packets. When a drop of water splashes down on to the liverwort, it sends the spores flying, which helps the plant spread.

34 This is a liverwort - a primitive plant related to moss. The funny structures you see are called gemma cups, and they contain spore packets. When a drop of water splashes down on to the liverwort, it sends the spores flying, which helps the plant spread.

Neat bed edges are a very important part of the gardens. They have been carefully designed for visual effect, so they must be continuously maintained. Here, Hakonechloa 'All Gold' acts as an eye-popping ground cover.

35 Neat bed edges are a very important part of the gardens. They have been carefully designed for visual effect, so they must be continuously maintained. Here, Hakonechloa 'All Gold' acts as an eye-popping ground cover.

This beautiful frothy mass of green is actually horsetail (Equisetum arvense), a weed I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But it shows the genius at this garden: it elevates the humble and allows you to see beauty in it.

36 This beautiful frothy mass of green is actually horsetail (Equisetum arvense), a weed I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But it shows the genius at this garden: it elevates the humble and allows you to see beauty in it.

The patch of horsetail is punctuated with primroses, which barely peek above the tops.

37 The patch of horsetail is punctuated with primroses, which barely peek above the tops.

I know this photo is out of focus (my camera was still on macro mode, a feature I use a lot when I'm in gardens!), but I include it because it speaks volumes about Chanticleer's mission. When you aren't thinking about identifying plants, you can simply appreciate its effect in the landscape.

38 I know this photo is out of focus (my camera was still on macro mode, a feature I use a lot when I'm in gardens!), but I include it because it speaks volumes about Chanticleer's mission. When you aren't thinking about identifying plants, you can simply appreciate its effect in the landscape.

Photographing emerging fern fronds is truly one of the delights of spring. They're like children - you just can't take a bad photo of them!

39 Photographing emerging fern fronds is truly one of the delights of spring. They're like children - you just can't take a bad photo of them!

The strong vertical statement of these emerging fern fronds is much more effective to the eye than to the camera, but it was worth a try!

40 The strong vertical statement of these emerging fern fronds is much more effective to the eye than to the camera, but it was worth a try!

Camassia is a native plant with an edible bulb. At Chanticleer, it is planted in huge drifts to very dramatic effect (keep clicking to see its big moment in the garden).

41 Camassia is a native plant with an edible bulb. At Chanticleer, it is planted in huge drifts to very dramatic effect (keep clicking to see its big moment in the garden).

The pretty, clear blue flowers of flax (Linum sp.).

42 The pretty, clear blue flowers of flax (Linum sp.).

A rock outcrop anchors a meadowy planting of blue and white. It looks natural, but don't be fooled - there is a very crafty gardener behind this!

43 A rock outcrop anchors a meadowy planting of blue and white. It looks natural, but don't be fooled - there is a very crafty gardener behind this!

Can anyone resist the charms of a fully flowered truss of wisteria blooms? Fragrant, beautiful, and evocative - and the bees go wild for it.

44 Can anyone resist the charms of a fully flowered truss of wisteria blooms? Fragrant, beautiful, and evocative - and the bees go wild for it.

I don't know the story behind this interesting birch tree - if the younger trees surrounding the big cut trunk were planted or suckered out, if this was deliberate or not - but it represents the kind of plant artistry that Chanticleer excels at.

45 I don't know the story behind this interesting birch tree - if the younger trees surrounding the big cut trunk were planted or suckered out, if this was deliberate or not - but it represents the kind of plant artistry that Chanticleer excels at.

The ponds are lined with stone, as are the natural water courses throughout the garden.

46 The ponds are lined with stone, as are the natural water courses throughout the garden.

Gravel gardens harbor the growth of many dry-loving plants. This one is especially colorful right now.

47 Gravel gardens harbor the growth of many dry-loving plants. This one is especially colorful right now.

It is really refreshing to see some reds and oranges in spring - the color palette generally runs toward the pastel.

48 It is really refreshing to see some reds and oranges in spring - the color palette generally runs toward the pastel.

In the background is that same dramatic linden tree that you saw in the first photo.

49 In the background is that same dramatic linden tree that you saw in the first photo.

Looking up toward the ruin garden, this gentle slope is planted with more gravel loving and prairie plants.

50 Looking up toward the ruin garden, this gentle slope is planted with more gravel loving and prairie plants.

Since Chanticleer was a private estate, there are two houses on the property. Around them, the plantings are more in line with what you'd see the average person do, but of course with a Chanticleer twist. Here, beet foliage and English daisy (Bellis perennis) are planted in a container.

51 Since Chanticleer was a private estate, there are two houses on the property. Around them, the plantings are more in line with what you'd see the average person do, but of course with a Chanticleer twist. Here, beet foliage and English daisy (Bellis perennis) are planted in a container.

The garden you can see to the middle left is known as the tennis court garden (since it occupies the former site of one). This garden is more akin to a traditional perennial garden, but of course, not a conventional one.

52 The garden you can see to the middle left is known as the tennis court garden (since it occupies the former site of one). This garden is more akin to a traditional perennial garden, but of course, not a conventional one.

A planting like this makes me swoon - all meadowy and shady, under a mature tree. So romantic!

53 A planting like this makes me swoon - all meadowy and shady, under a mature tree. So romantic!

The tennis court garden viewed from the house: you can see the formal lines, focal point, and abundant plantings that make this such a beloved garden style.

54 The tennis court garden viewed from the house: you can see the formal lines, focal point, and abundant plantings that make this such a beloved garden style.

Of course, once you're in the tennis court garden, you begin to see the arresting color combinations their gardeners are so famous for.

55 Of course, once you're in the tennis court garden, you begin to see the arresting color combinations their gardeners are so famous for.

Euphorbia polychroma - I love the clear yellow and neat mounding habit of this perennial (at least in spring - it isn't quite at its best in summer).

56 Euphorbia polychroma - I love the clear yellow and neat mounding habit of this perennial (at least in spring - it isn't quite at its best in summer).

I fell head over heels in love with this simple combo. Sometimes I think I like tulips best when they start to open up and relax and fade a bit rather than when they are new, closed, and staunchly vertical.

57 I fell head over heels in love with this simple combo. Sometimes I think I like tulips best when they start to open up and relax and fade a bit rather than when they are new, closed, and staunchly vertical.

Yellow carex, burgundy euphorbia, and a maroon fringed tulip - this small moment so perfectly compliments the larger whole, and especially the pergola in the background.

58 Yellow carex, burgundy euphorbia, and a maroon fringed tulip - this small moment so perfectly compliments the larger whole, and especially the pergola in the background.

Just the thing for the eye that has grown tired of namby-pamby spring pastels!

59 Just the thing for the eye that has grown tired of namby-pamby spring pastels!

Rheum palmatum - who doesn't love this rhubarb relative and its big, bold foliage?

60 Rheum palmatum - who doesn't love this rhubarb relative and its big, bold foliage?

Whenever you see a plant that you have tried to grow doing well somewhere else, take a moment to consider why - this plant's roots are well shaded, while the huge leaves can take in plenty of sun, unobstructed by trees overhead.

61 Whenever you see a plant that you have tried to grow doing well somewhere else, take a moment to consider why - this plant's roots are well shaded, while the huge leaves can take in plenty of sun, unobstructed by trees overhead.

It's as important to take in the small moments as it is the bigger moments. Myself, I'm kind of a small moments gal, whereas Andrew is a bigger picture kind of fellow. It helps to visit gardens with a friend, so you can each point out what you perceive as special or interesting to the other.

62 It's as important to take in the small moments as it is the bigger moments. Myself, I'm kind of a small moments gal, whereas Andrew is a bigger picture kind of fellow. It helps to visit gardens with a friend, so you can each point out what you perceive as special or interesting to the other.

Now that's a hanging basket! And all edibles, too. Thank goodness there's such a sturdy hook!

63 Now that's a hanging basket! And all edibles, too. Thank goodness there's such a sturdy hook!

This is a type of comfrey - Symphytum ibericum 'Wisley Blue'. It has red buds which open to white flowers tinged with blue. Neither Andrew nor I had seen this before but we both thought it was fascinating...too bad it won't be in bloom for the 4th of July!

64 This is a type of comfrey - Symphytum ibericum 'Wisley Blue'. It has red buds which open to white flowers tinged with blue. Neither Andrew nor I had seen this before but we both thought it was fascinating...too bad it won't be in bloom for the 4th of July!

I love this plant - and that's, what? Only the fifth or sixth time I've said that in this one blog entry? Sheesh. But its hard not to feel this way when there are so many unusual plants.

65 I love this plant - and that's, what? Only the fifth or sixth time I've said that in this one blog entry? Sheesh. But its hard not to feel this way when there are so many unusual plants.

Here's the massing of the camassias. I think one of the first times I really saw this plant used to great effect was at Martha's garden at Turkey Hill. It makes a great cut flower as well as a great garden plant.

66 Here's the massing of the camassias. I think one of the first times I really saw this plant used to great effect was at Martha's garden at Turkey Hill. It makes a great cut flower as well as a great garden plant.

Since it is native, give it moist soil and it will naturalize readily (and I mean that in a good way).

67 Since it is native, give it moist soil and it will naturalize readily (and I mean that in a good way).

This funny old waterwheel was installed in private estate days to provide water to the swimming pool.

68 This funny old waterwheel was installed in private estate days to provide water to the swimming pool.

This water course serves as flood control for the stream, and the steps add a unique take on water management.

69 This water course serves as flood control for the stream, and the steps add a unique take on water management.

The starry flowers of camassia - you can't really tell from these photos, but these are about 3' tall, so they're quite dramatic.

70 The starry flowers of camassia - you can't really tell from these photos, but these are about 3' tall, so they're quite dramatic.

The flowers of Darmera peltata - this plant is mostly grown for foliage but these tiny coral-colored flowers are awfully charming.

71 The flowers of Darmera peltata - this plant is mostly grown for foliage but these tiny coral-colored flowers are awfully charming.

It prefers to grow along a streamside - here's proof!

72 It prefers to grow along a streamside - here's proof!

In the distance, you can see the ruin garden. There truly was a ruin on this site, but it became so disheveled that it couldn't be restored. So they built a new ruin!

73 In the distance, you can see the ruin garden. There truly was a ruin on this site, but it became so disheveled that it couldn't be restored. So they built a new ruin!

These grasses look newly planted, but in fact, they will eventually form a dense, meadow-like stand by mid-summer.

74 These grasses look newly planted, but in fact, they will eventually form a dense, meadow-like stand by mid-summer.

This is false indigo - Baptisia australis - and it is so beautiful when it blooms.

75 This is false indigo - Baptisia australis - and it is so beautiful when it blooms.

Looking back over the meadow to the stream and camassia planting.

76 Looking back over the meadow to the stream and camassia planting.

To make the new ruin feel old, the gardeners use lots of cool tricks, like this planting of oak seedlings. They dig seedlings of various ages and replant as necessary to maintain this look.

77 To make the new ruin feel old, the gardeners use lots of cool tricks, like this planting of oak seedlings. They dig seedlings of various ages and replant as necessary to maintain this look.

More tree and vine

78 More tree and vine "encroachment".

I so prefer tulips mixed in and naturalized in a planting like this than in a big, dedicated bed.

79 I so prefer tulips mixed in and naturalized in a planting like this than in a big, dedicated bed.

I'm not sure which fern this is, but its fuzzy emerging fronds really captivated me.

80 I'm not sure which fern this is, but its fuzzy emerging fronds really captivated me.

Throughout the ruin and toward the gravel garden, there are lots of hardy cacti. Good drainage is the most important obstacle in getting these to survive winter - it isn't necessarily temperature at all.

81 Throughout the ruin and toward the gravel garden, there are lots of hardy cacti. Good drainage is the most important obstacle in getting these to survive winter - it isn't necessarily temperature at all.

The ruin garden is made mysterious by stone tablets strewn here and there.

82 The ruin garden is made mysterious by stone tablets strewn here and there.

The glaucous foliage of a spring bulb among a sea of lavender.

83 The glaucous foliage of a spring bulb among a sea of lavender.

If this overview of the gravel slope and the ruin garden doesn't make you want to visit, I don't know what will!

84 If this overview of the gravel slope and the ruin garden doesn't make you want to visit, I don't know what will!

It takes a deft hand and a very skilled, attentive gardener to pick up on small color cues and make charming combinations like this.

85 It takes a deft hand and a very skilled, attentive gardener to pick up on small color cues and make charming combinations like this.

This overall view shows how meandering the pond garden is.

86 This overall view shows how meandering the pond garden is.

This gravel bed and slope contains my most favorite echinacea - Echinacea tenesseensis 'Rocky Top', but it won't bloom til summer.

87 This gravel bed and slope contains my most favorite echinacea - Echinacea tenesseensis 'Rocky Top', but it won't bloom til summer.

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