This Week's Podcast: A Replay: Notes from Chanticleer — the Dream Garden — with Bill Thomas
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People often ask me which public garden is the best in the United States. Regardless of my answer, they tell me that their favorite is Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania. I know why. Chanticleer is colorful, meticulous, impeccably maintained and personal despite its expansive scale. I think people see this place as what they would have if dreams and means came true. Bottom line: Chanticleer is remarkable. My guest on the radio show and podcast is the author, or better to say editor, of a new book – The Art of Gardening. Now we hear from all the gardeners who share their motivations, knowledge, horticultural advice and direction.
Innovation is what attracts me to Chanticleer. Many American gardens take their inspiration from the past and from other countries, and often do so too literally. When you visit Chanticleer, you see things you’ve never seen before. Not every design speaks to my tastes, but I admire the guts it took to create them. I appreciate the risk of trying new things. I don’t think you can have original art without risk.
The professional gardeners there might say that their work is “plant-driven.” It’s true that plants star in the gardens at Chanticleer, and they certainly star in the photographs by Rob Cardillo, some of which are shown here. But plants alone cannot explain the allure of this self-described “pleasure garden.” This phrase is part of the legacy of the former owners of the estate: the Rosengarten family. The prime directive – to make a beautiful place to visit – is summed up in the Chanticleer Foundation’s note to the public. “We hope you feel like a special guest of the Rosengartens. Sit and enjoy the views. Relax, read, converse, meditate. Feel the sun on your back and the grass beneath your feet as you listen to the birds and enjoy the scents of the garden.”