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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – November 9

My friends and fellow Master Gardeners Oz and Audrey Osborne recently headed south, on a destination-free vacation. “Are you going through Pennsylvania?” I immediately asked. “If so, you have to go to Chanticleer.”

I don’t know if they made it before Chanticleer closed for the season or not, but I hope so. And if you haven’t visited this lovely public garden, make your plans now for 2011. They’re open from April through October, I think you’ll be inspired and delighted. If you’re a fellow out-of-control plant person, you’ll start to hyperventilate as soon as you walk through the entry gates.

What’s so special about Chanticleer? I can list several things without putting much thought into it: The range of plants used is far-reaching and phenomenal, the balance of plants with hardscape or ornaments is perfect, there are touches of whimsy and visual surprises everywhere, and the gardens are a lovely combination of a gardener’s design and letting the plants have their own way.

Chanticleer might challenge the visitors who want to see large beds of annual flowers a la Buchart Gardens, or those who want to see each variety in a separate area with mulch in between. At Chanticleer, many gardens more closely resemble how plants grow in the wild: in communities.

There are places that stir us because they are artistic, holy, historic or wonders of nature. Some of these are destinations, and others are in our own backyard, and finding the ways that these two intersect is one way we grow.

I love the use of rebar to create these arches in the flower and veggie garden at Chanticleer.

This is just one example of a packed garden where the plants are intermingling.

Color and texture of foliage is paramount at Chanticleer, and there are many areas that creatively use plants from many climates and parts of the world, mixed in together.

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