Golden Moments from Chanticleer

Leave it to Chanticleer Garden to always surprise, to always leave you wondering "Can I do that?" No matter how often I visit I'm left in awe and utterly enchanted.

Last month I had the opportunity (aka excuse) to visit once again, this time with my husband Andy. I was scheduled to speak locally so flew in a day early and begged director Bill Thomas to allow me early entry in order to capture the magic of Chanticleer as the sun rose and before the visitors arrived in droves. Gracious as always, he readily agreed.

I could write for a lifetime and never do this garden justice. I wondered what to focus on for this blog post: the whimsical chrysalis-earring a cupid sported? The charming, drought tolerant, monochromatic plantings that draped down the raised banister by the Tennis Court Garden? The always outrageous Teacup Garden? The remarkable container designs? Perhaps the Flowery Lawn and Gravel Terrace beds by the swimming pool? I took dozens of images of all of these yet I kept coming back to the Serpentine Beds.

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Their website describes it thus:

"A gap in the main house arborvitae hedge takes you down the hill past a small shed once used to store apples. On the left are tall conical conifers and a magnificent Chinese dogwood. Glimpsed through the trees are our workshops and garages and a gardener's cottage. You may wonder what lies ahead…

…a serpentine avenue of young junipers, banded by wheat and barley winds up to an almost pagan semi-circle backed by upright gingko trees — a marriage of stone and wood, dedicated to Flora."

Today this description is not entirely accurate, since although I have seen it planted with those grains, this year it was planted with Carolina gold rice. The haze of golden grass-like foliage can be seen from multiple vantage points around the garden, drawing me towards it like a magpie seeking something new and shiny.

Viewed from the Gravel Garden, the sinuous curves of the serpentine beds are more evident.

It is perhaps best seen from a distance so the shapes can be appreciated. A picture frame of shrubs and trees focusing ones attention on the curvaceous form and structure.

Yet the movement and soothing rustling sounds naturally draws you closer.

A perfect spot to sit and listen to the wind as it moves through the golden rice.

I was intrigued to see how it looked close up and was fascinated to see how the designers had backed it by a sweep of goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks') punctuated by the upright junipers. Gold with gold. Fine texture with fine texture. Anyone else, myself included, would have sought out contrast in bolder texture and color. Not Chanticleer.

Companion planting with Fireworks golden rod

Have you got a spot to try this? Would you like to learn more? Or perhaps substitute with another grain such as wheat or barley? The following resources should give you plenty to consider.


More About Carolina Gold Rice

Learn about the history?

Where to buy.

How to grow.


Other Resources to help you Grow and Design with Grains

The Foodscape Revolution by Brie Arthur (St. Lynn's Press, 2017)

Gardening with Grains by Brie Arthur (St. Lynn's Press, due for release November 2019)


Older Blog Posts on Chanticleer

Watery Hues at Chanticleer

Lessons from Chanticleer


Books on Chanticleer

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by R. W. Thomas (Timber Press, 2015)

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