Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden

Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden

Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden

Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden


Chanticleer, a forty-eight-acre garden on Philadelphia's historic Main Line, is many things simultaneously: a lush display of verdant intensity and variety, an irreverent and informal setting for inventive plant combinations, a homage to the native trees and horticultural heritage of the mid-Atlantic, a testament to one man's devotion to his family's estate and legacy, and a good spot for a stroll and picnic amid the blooms. In Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, Adrian Higgins and photographer Rob Cardillo chronicle the garden's many charms over the course of two growing cycles.

Built on the grounds of the Rosengarten estate in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Chanticleer retains a domestic scale, resulting in an intimate, welcoming atmosphere. The structure of the estate has been thoughtfully incorporated into the garden's overall design, such that small gardens created in the footprint of the old tennis court and on the foundation of one of the family homes share space with more traditional landscapes woven around streams and an orchard.

Through conversations and rambles with Chanticleer's team of gardeners and artisans, Higgins follows the garden's development and reinvention as it changes from season to season, rejoicing in the hundred thousand daffodils blooming on the Orchard Lawn in spring and marveling at the Serpentine's late summer crop of cotton, planted as a reminder of Pennsylvania's agrarian past. Cardillo's photographs reveal further nuances in Chanticleer's landscape: a rare and venerable black walnut tree near the entrance, pairs of gaily painted chairs along the paths, a backlit arbor draped in mounds of fragrant wisteria. Chanticleer fuses a strenuous devotion to the beauty and health of its plantings are the only species for which the world seems made up of stories, Alberto Manguel writes. We read the book of the world in many guises: we may be travelers, advancing through its pages like pilgrims heading toward enlightenment. We may be recluses, withdrawing through our reading into our own ivory towers. Or we may devour our books like burrowing worms, not to benefit from the wisdom they contain but merely to stuff ourselves with countless words.

With consummate grace and extraordinary breadth, the best-selling author of A History of Reading and The Library at Night considers the chain of metaphors that have described readers and their relationships to the text-that-is-the-world over a span of four millennia. In figures as familiar and diverse as the book-addled Don Quixote and the pilgrim Dante who carries us through the depths of hell up to the brilliance of heaven, as well as Prince Hamlet paralyzed by his learning, and Emma Bovary who mistakes what she has read for the life she might one day lead, Manguel charts the ways in which literary characters and their interpretations reflect both shifting attitudes toward readers and reading, and certain recurrent notions on the role of the intellectual: "We are reading creatures. We ingest words, we are made of words.... It is through words that we identify our reality and by means of words that we ourselves are identified."


This book is a testament to the people who have made Chanticleer. To Adolph and Christine Rosengarten, who purchased the property, built the home, and raised two children who would grow up to love the place. To their son, Adolph, Jr., who loved the trees, lawns, homes, and spirit of the site so much he left it to be a public garden. He endowed it well and trusted the Board of Directors he appointed and the staff he and they hired to develop the property into something special. To his wife, Janet, who tended her own personal flower garden outside her husband’s library window and advised him to preserve the land, inspiring the Foundation’s creation.

To the members of the Board of Directors, who manage the money wisely, set policies carefully, who love the garden enough to trust its operation to a skilled and talented staff, and who know each employee’s name. To Christopher Woods, Chanticleer’s first Executive Director, who transformed a pretty estate into an amazing pleasure garden. And, finally, to the staff, who have designed the garden, made it visually and sensually exciting, and built the furniture, the bridges, and the drinking fountains.

On his first visit to the gardens, writer Adrian Higgins understood Chanticleer. He recognized its liveliness, and he comprehended the artistry and continual reinvention of the site. He witnessed the love and devotion the staff incorporates into every aspect of the place. He visited regularly . . .

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