Home GardeningGarden Diary Falling into ruin at Chanticleer Garden

Falling into ruin at Chanticleer Garden


January 13, 2024

Chanticleer’s Ruin Garden has a fairy tale quality. It’s not an actual ruin but was built in 1999 on the site of one of the original houses on the property. Plants creep up crumbling walls and emerge from cracked paving, ghostly faces appear in pools of water, and a sarcophagus-like table hulks in the dining room. It gives me Spirited Away vibes.

This is Part 8 of my visit to Chanticleer during the Philadelphia Area Fling last September.

Let’s start in the library, which you enter through a wide doorway from the Gravel Garden.

Near the fireplace, agaves adorn the stone wall like green boutonnieres on a lapel.

Stone books, including one impressed with acorns, lie open to the elements, waiting to be read.

Moss, one is titled. A leafy face stares up at you.

Masonry, reads another.

Ex Libris — from whose library, I wonder?

Leaves of books, plant leaves, what we leave behind…it’s all getting mixed up.

A bucket elevator chain planted with small succulents hangs from a timber post. In the corner, a weeping Norway spruce seems to skulk into the room like a green ghost.

The chain makes a charming planter.

Waterfalling plants in the little buckets

Pretty Passiflora citrina

Hydrangea in bloom

And now we come to those marble faces in the water.

They don’t look spooky to me. Rather peaceful, floating there.

The next room is the dining hall, with a long black table–actually a reflective pool–that resembles a polished coffin.

Question mark paving?

Tillandsias on the mantle

Loree of Danger Garden recently wrote that she actively disliked the big black table. I feel more ambiguous about it. It adds a spookier element to the ruin, which I appreciate.

I would like to see water plants growing in it.

The open doorways and windows of the ruin frame glimpses of the Gravel Garden beyond.

Stone acorns cluster under oak saplings.

Outside the walls, the garden fully takes hold again.

A few more ghostly weeping Norway spruces glide through a mini-meadow of prairie dropseed.

And a disembodied face snoozes in the grasses.

Up next: Exploring Bell’s Woodland and along Bell’s Run Creek. For a look back at Chanticleer’s meadowy Gravel Garden, click here:

To read about my past visits to Chanticleer’s Ruin Garden, follow these links:

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