Chanticleer Gardens: http://www.chanticleergarden.org/
What better way to spend a saturday than visiting a local garden? None. This trip was organized by the Landscape Architecture Department and allowed 30 students the opportunity to engage in a private tour of the gardens led by two of the gardens staff and OLIN partner\Penn alumnus Dennis McGlade.
Chanticleer is a pleasure garden. It’s sole purpose is to be a natural refuge for people from the city to come garden or stroll about. Each garden, as there are several garden types and designs, is designed, planted, and maintained by interested locals and the garden’s own horticulturists and garden staff. The soils, groundcovers, and plants are all selected to complement a specific site in the garden. Each separate garden is defined not by fences and signs but rather by plant types and design. The transitions are gardened to create a seamless flow between each garden. The overall experience is quite dreamlike.
The garden staff who assisted with the tour was very knowledgeable about the history of the garden, the buildings left standing on the property, and the general garden design. This was supplemented by Dennis McGlade’s input from a designers perspective. Discussed were the ideas of plant form, color, and texture being complementary to emphasize a certain geometry and mood, plant growth creating various types of garden over time, microclimates and their many uses, and general plant knowledge (of which I have much to learn). The knowledge of plant types and their specific requirements can be learned readily at the garden as, both there and online, the garden has a list of all the plants in each garden for reference.
Though I may not be planning to design pleasure gardens the lessons started here are sure to apply in more urban settings. The day was a perfect inspiration, and a lovely insight into the field of landscape architecture.