We're back in Montreal now, after a long drive yesterday. While in the outskirts of Philadelphia, visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, one of the nicest things we did was to visit Chanticleer, a large public garden on a former estate. It's quite different from Les Quatre Vents, the incredible garden we visited in the Charlevoix -- smaller, more urban, less quirky -- and planted in a considerably warmer growing climate. In fact, my initial reaction was zone envy.
The garden has a number of areas, closer and further from the house, each planted differently. One leit-motif throughout, during these weeks of early June, were giant alliums, which appeared everywhere but made a different effect in each context.
A great strength of the garden as a whole was its masterful use of texture, and of unusual plants to achieve this. In one planting I noticed frilly red lettuces, beet greens, and crinkled apple-green kale mixed in with more predictable perennials to add their own particular textures and colors.
The garden also plays with ideas of scale, with long views and meadows contrasting with smaller, more intimate tableaux.
Succulents reflect in a flat pool in one room of "The Ruin."
These hens-and-chickens are planted in an armature of -- what else? -- chicken wire lined with sphagnum moss.
In the "Library," another room in The Ruins, visitors can browse the collection of carved stone books...
Mature trees and flowering shrubs form a backbone for the smaller gardens. And the Korean dogwood was in bloom.
Have you ever seen anything lovelier?
The cutting garden.
And another view of the poppy hillside: almost everything was in shades of purple/fuschia/lavender to contrast with the brilliant crimson poppies: a banquet of color.
For me, a garden like this is a living artwork, a giant sculpture. I find it endlessly inspiring, not just for my own gardens but for painting, textile design, printmaking -- any place where texture, color and form work together. And of course it's also a source of genuine joy and calm.
In the next post I'll show you a gallery exhibition of sculpture that alludes to very different forms and ideas.