Chanticleer, a Pleasure Garden, Prepares for Spring

This year March blew into the region with 3 back-to-back snow and sleet storms and single digit wind chills.  But never fear, Delaware County, which lies at the heart of America’s Garden Capital (30+ Gardens within 30 miles) takes it all in stride. 

Case in point is Chanticleer, a pleasure garden, formerly the estate of Adolph and Christine Rosengarten, Sr., nestled in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Called “One of North America’s Most Beautiful Secret Gardens” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, the garden has been closed through the winter as it does each year, with staff turning their attention to preparing the garden for the coming season.  Staff also use this time build and repair furniture, design gardens, and undertake garden renovations in preparation for their March 27th opening day.

Erin McKeon, Chanticleer’s Public Programs Manager and chair of marketing for America’s Garden Capital, gives our online visitors a peek into what sort of tasks the Chanticleer staff do in the weeks leading up to opening day. Photos are courtesy of Chanticleer, taken by Lisa Roper unless otherwise noted. 

Chanticleer staff, David Mattern and Terry Struve top dress gravel on beds in the Gravel Garden.


ERIN: Chanticleer gardeners use alternative mulch materials like sharp gravel and leaf mold. Each mulch alternative offers a slightly different effect on your garden – the gravel assists in creating planting areas that drain readily, and the leaf mold mulch adds organic matter to the soil, which also can be effective in top dressing containers due to its water-holding ability.

David Mattern prepares to hang woven willow baskets on the Chanticleer Terrace.

ERIN: Plant up containers and hanging baskets with cold-tolerant plants such as ranunculus, primroses, bronze fennel, and lettuces. Your spring containers will fill in through the spring months and can be transitioned over to summer plants in early May. Chanticleer has two distinct changeovers in the gardens that surround the Chanticleer House; one is planted in March when there is still the threat of frost. Plant selection is important for making the spring plantings last until the second changeover in early May.

Doug Croft arranges flowers for the Entrance Pavilion.

ERIN: Enjoy the bringing the beauty of spring inside. Selectively cut flowering trees and shrubs to use in arrangements in your home. Spread cheer by incorporating daffodils into your flower arrangement. Cut stems at a 45 degree angle to enhance their water uptake while they brighten up your living space.

Lisa Roper lays stone paths in the new gravel circle garden, adjacent to the stone sofa. Photo by David Mattern

ERIN: Use the blank canvas and the thawing grounds of early spring to create new garden areas. Consider building small pathways through a space, or adding rocks for effect and then plant around those patterns. Tuck seating areas into a garden bed, so that once plants begin to develop you feel as if you are fully immersed in the garden.

Tess Kuracina lays out a mixed annual planting of pansies, osteospermum and calendula in the Teacup Garden.

ERIN: Use cold-hardy plants such as pansies, rosemary and lettuces to get color in your garden while plants that are overwintering break out of dormancy. Lay out your plants before you plant them to get the desired effect of combining colors and ensuring you have enough plants to cover an area.

A Chanticleer intern gives the Winter Shrub Border a spring cleanup, raking out the bed to expose Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’.

ERIN: Raking out beds of leaf matter and debris that has accumulated over winter will assist plants that are coming up from the ground. Gardeners gently rake leaves off of bulb foliage mounds to ensure that they get access to sunlight early on, in the spring.

David Mattern wraps turquoise containers with bright willow branches on the Sun Porch.

ERIN: Use brightly colored branches of willows and dogwoods that you cut back in early spring, to weave or stake in your containers. With a little time, you can create innovative support structures for plants to grow up, or something just plain artistic. Visit Chanticleer this spring to see how the gardeners use branches in their displays to create a pop of color when many plants are just getting growth started for the season.

Chanticleer has been called the most romantic, imaginative, and exciting public garden in America. It’s a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home. The garden opens for the 2019 Season on March 27th and remains open through October, Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and until 8pm on Friday evenings May through Labor Day. The garden is located at 786 Church Road, Wayne, PA. Learn more about Chanticleer at and to discover America’s Garden Capital at

Chanticleer is located at 786 Church Rd, Wayne, PA 19087. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.