Located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia in beautiful Wayne, PA, Chanticleer Garden is well worth a trip.
The 47-acre plot was purchased by Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. and his wife Christine in the early 20th Century as a summer home. Adolph was head of the Rosengarten & Sons, a pharmaceutical manufacturer founded in 1822, which became part of Merck & Co in 1927.
Designed by Charles L. Borie, the house was completed in 1913. Thomas Sears added terraces and an extension of the home in 1924 which allowed for conversion into a year-round residence. Homes for the Rosengarten children, Adolph Jr. and Emily, were also built on the grounds. Adolph Jr.’s home stood where the Ruin now stands; Emily’s home is now the estate’s offices and instructional classrooms. The entire estate was left to the public upon Adolph Jr.’s death in 1990.
The name Chanticleer refers to the Chanticlere estate in William Thackeray’s The Newcomes and the rooster protagonist, Chauntecleer, from the Nun’s Priest’s Tale in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Roosters feature prominently on the grounds.
The gardens—35 of the 47 acres—were opened to the public in 1993. Keeping them in fine form are 20 full-time staffers, seven of whom are horticulturalists. The Chanticleer Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors, some of whom are Rosengarten relations.
Called a “pleasure garden,” Chanticleer is a place for meandering, relaxing and learning. Each area of the garden—the Tennis Court, Ruin, Gravel Garden, Pond Garden, Teacup Garden, Terraces, Bell’s Woodland, Asian Woods, Serpentine—is designed, planted and maintained by a specific horticulturalist. The gardens work together along a mile-long path, though each is uniquely impactful.
So as not to take away from the visual impact, plants are not individually labeled, but listed at each garden and online. In addition to these lists, visitors are encouraged to speak with staff about any of the 5,000+ plants that catch their eye.
Not just a place of beauty, Chanticleer is committed to sustainability. The garden generates 20% of its electricity from solar panels; cisterns collect 44,000 gallons of water for irrigation; pests and lawns are managed organically and material at the end of its life-cycle is composted or turned into the furniture that dots the landscape; the path to Bell’s Woodlands is paved in shredded tires.
LOCATION: 786 Church Road, Wayne, PA 19087 Chanticleer is accessible by car and SEPTA’s R5 Thorndale/Paoli Line (take a taxi from Wayne Train Station)
OPEN: 10am-5pm Wed through Sun through Nov 1 and Fri evenings until 8pm through Labor Day
ADMISSION: Adult admission is $10; children under 12 and garden professionals may visit for free
Originally published in the July 2016 issue of QVNA Magazine