Friday, January 12, 2024

Chanticleer Friday: The Gravel Garden

We're back at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania. This is week nine of in depth coverage of my September visit to the garden as part of the Garden Fling (there are links to all the posts at the bottom of the page). I have only one more post after this and then it's a wrap! 

Today we walk through the gravel garden, which we enter from the patio off the Ruin Garden...

"Sun-baked from its southwestern exposure, the Gravel Garden creates a feeling of mounting enchantment as you walk through the series of stone steps. Here the garden eschews plants that need constant irrigation, emphasizing instead tough, resilient plants — all set in a gravel mulch. Silver-leafed lavender, santolina, and thyme add a Mediterranean flavor with their aromas and textures, while spurges writhe like serpents among species tulips and diminutive daffodils. Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) brings airiness to the structured planting. Narrow spires of juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’) draw the eye up towards the pergola covered with purple wisteria in late spring. Trough plantings offer a viable and aesthetic alternative to conventional, water-thirsty containers. Perhaps the most striking sight are tree-like yuccas with their powder-blue spiky foliage and hula-skirted trunks. Uncommon in the region, Yucca rostrata needs full sun and resents winter wet ground." (source)

The Gravel Garden was the most difficult section of the overall garden for me to write about. I walked thru it back and forth and side to side several times and on two different days. With no structure to act as a mode of wayfinding my photos were a bit of a mess. C'est la vie. We shall soldier on.

There are many great plants to see, they may be a little out of order but that doesn't subtract from their fabulousness!

Looking backwards toward the Ruin.

I was thrilled to come upon these variegated Agave attenuata looking so happy, healthy and at home.

Yucca rostrata in the distance...

Backwards again.

There is a significant slope downward away from the Ruin, it's hard to tell in these photos.

Yep, looking over my shoulder, again.

The containers of desert plants were so well mixed into the Gravel Garden the illusion of permanence was seamless.
(another backward shot)

Yucca rostrata with major personality!

Yes, it's lifted.

Agave ovatifolia in the shade...

And on a sunnier day (I visited twice).

From the opposite side.

And heading back up towards the Ruins now. This photo was taken during the Fling visit on Friday afternoon and had I panned to the left you'd have probably seen a bar table and my fellow Flingers lining up for drinks, I wish I had. I was so intent on capturing the garden though.

The folks at Chanticleer treated us right during the Fling official visit. There were several food and bar stations set up, a band and dancing, and we stayed even later than we were scheduled for, it was extremely fabulous and quite decadent!

Alluaudia procera I believe.

Salvia argentea

Closer to the Ruin there is an outdoor living room with furniture made of stone.

They're more comfortable than they look.

I'll end this post with two photos I snapped back up near the Ruin Garden, just three minutes apart. I have no memory of taking these images, but it's terribly fun to see the garden empty...

And then filled with my fellow Flingers and staff member Dan Benarcik, on the far right.

Next week we wander through the Cutting Garden, Vegetable Garden and down thru Bell's Woodland.

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  1. The Yucca rostratas really make a statement. (After 3+ years I'm still waiting for mine to issue a 3 word phrase...) I love the stone sofa and chair, which have me wondering where I could put something like that. The Mexican feather grass was looking scruffy but then that's what it does in late summer - it's more elegant earlier in the year.

    1. Where would you even get something like that? (the stone furniture)

  2. I am amazed what they've managed to do, and have to recreate, every year. Maybe just a bit less grass, and it would be perfect. It verges a little bit too much on messy Midwest prairie, rather than the desert scene that I so want it to be. Those Yucca rostrata are huge! I wonder if the euphorbia in the seat has irritated anyone's backside?

    1. Grass as in lawn, or Nassella tenuissima-like? I agree there was a bit too much, it hides the other, more interesting plants. The euphorbia had me remembering an issue at one of the McMenamins a few years back, when someone had an unfortunate euphorbia incident. Seems like a questionable choice for a public garden.

    2. Yes, the Nasella, not the turf

  3. I'm the most drawn to those containers, and the Yucca rostrata. What a great wild form it's taken on. I can't believe the amount of work to recreate this every year. I second the too much grassy for me, I would've wanted to start pulling it out.

  4. They must have a large building to store the more tender plants for winter? Maybe you have shown this in previous posts and I’m forgetting.

    1. The only storage building I saw is coming up in the next post.

  5. The variegated Agave attenuata puzzle me. One doesn't see many Agaves sporting a trunk. (or am I totally off here?).

    1. Nope, you are correct. It's one of the few agave species that trunks with age.

  6. I have a baby yucca rostrata that I’m planting out in spring, and I was worried that it may grow with a lean due to light angles. Seeing this, I’m telling myself it might actually be super cool with a bit of a lean!
    20 degrees here at 8pm in NE Portland. I’ve covered a few plants and brought some inside, but others I’ve written off. I have (or maybe had) a four foot echium pininana in the ground. Since it’s expected to get down to 14 tomorrow with brutal wind, I didn't even bother to cover it. Same with Melianthus villosus, a four year old. I thought last year’s triple winter blasts were bad, but this one may be the worst. Hope the carnage isn’t too bad at your place! Jim North Tabor

    1. A lean is good! It's currently 13 here and the wind is ripping. This is gonna be ugly.

  7. I am absolutely "God smacked" as my Irish friend says! The Alluaudia procera and all the others! They must have to move or cover them all winter! I wondered how many staff they have! Fantastic!

    1. Indeed, a lot of work goes into creating and recreating this garden each season.


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