Gardening: Chanticleer Garden provides inspiration all year

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

Old Jack Frost will soon be knocking at my door, so it’s time to begin collecting good reads to keep me warm this winter. At the top of my new stack is "The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration" and "Innovative Planting Techniques" from Chanticleer by R. William Thomas and featuring his gifted staff (Timber Press).

The Art of Gardening

Whether you have a single pot or an acre or more to garden in, "The Art of Gardening" will give you inspiration along with tips and techniques and to create a living work of art.

Chanticleer is an incredible contemporary public garden that surrounds an historic setting located about 30 miles from Philadelphia, that’s been called the most romantic and exciting garden in America, 

The Chanticleer grounds – some 35 acres, are made up of a series of gardens, each with a theme and personality that is ever changing from season to season and year to year.  Included in the designs are the works of the staff whose talents range from wood working, stone carving, painting, metal working, to the union of bamboo canes and rebar to provide creative supports, furniture, gates and bridges. 

The Teacup Garden, named after a teacup-shaped fountain, features containers overflowing with incredible combinations of tropical foliage and flowers that fill the space with exciting color and the air with intoxicating fragrance.   

One of the reasons for it’s secret sauce is the mission spelled out by the Chanticleer Foundation charter set up by Adolph Rosengarden Jr. which mandates the property be operated as a beautiful public garden and main house be operated as a museum, while providing the education of amateur and professional gardeners. There are no directives as to how or when the gardens are to be planted. So without the restraints of major directives or any restrictive landscape plans, Bill Thomas and his staff are free to create and the gardens evolve and continuously change.

Not to be overlooked is the masterful photography of the award-winning photographer Rob Gardillo who brings this stunningly artful garden to life.  

At 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Friends of Arts and Flowers will present the Betsy Campbell Lecture, The Art of Gardening by Bill Thomas. The program is free with museum admission. General admission to the DIA is free to residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The DIA is not taking reservations so I suggest you arrive early to assure a seat.  For information call (313) 833-4005.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at