31 October 2010

Chanticleer - A Pleasure Garden

Chanticleer is a pleasure garden not far from Longwood where we PG students spend a few weekend days each summer volunteering our time and working alongside their expert gardeners. It's a stunning garden full of artistry, poetry, whimsy, and mastery. During the summer you can take a picnic on Friday nights, find your favorite spot and munch.

A local author recently wrote a book in the garden over the course of two years. It's really a series of essays and observations she made during her weekly visits, which began on her 41st birthday. Seeking answers to angst-ridden questions, she would wander the garden, talk to people, think, and write. Personally, I found her claim that being 41 meant she was "middle-aged" rather offensive and bristled at the suggestion that such a term could be applied to me. Granted, if I live to be 84, I am currently at the midway point of my lifespan but I refuse to consider myself middle-aged in the accepted anthropological sense. Then I look in the mirror, notice a little more tinsel in my hair and think maybe it's just one of those inevitable things that I should just accept and get on with...


Anyway, reading the book did inspire me to visit Chanticleer on closing day. It was a gorgeous fall day, the color was glowing, the air was crisp and crystal and smelled like autumn. Armed with my camera, notebook, and steaming Earl Grey latte, I spent the afternoon wandering in bliss. Here's a look at the garden from spring through summer and fall as seen from my lens.

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Chairs are everywhere at Chanticleer, a constant invitation to sit and linger

It may not look it, but this stone couch is actually quite comfortable
No couch is complete without a remote. The buttons stick, but the shows are well worth watching.

The Ruin Garden

Yes, I've gotten to swim in this pool!

My design in the gravel. It was supposed to rain that day so I thought rain drops on water a fitting muse. 

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The still water in the sarcophagus table makes a perfect reflection of the Ruin gardens

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Fall blooming Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta)

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Summer's sunflowers are done. I'm not sure but I think the Sorghum may have been from last year.

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Even the arrangements in the restrooms are stunning!

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Beneath the leaves is a statue of a girl frolicking with the guppies. Some call her 'the drowning girl', the gardeners at Chanticleer call her 'Teeny'. 
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26 October 2010

Spring is in the air

Ok, maybe fall is in the air but spring is definitely in the ground! All 150,000 tulips, narcissi, crocus, and fritillaria worth! Check out what happens on the Brick Walk when about 150,000 bulbs (give or take 25,000), about 20 staff and students (give or take another dozen), and a supply of ibuprofen get together!

With a rare free day in our academic schedule my classmates and I found ourselves on the Brick Walk this fine - and freakishly warm - autumn morn. Our mission -  to take this plan:

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With these bulbs (and a few others):

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And get them into the ground before the rain hits. Or Friday. Whichever comes first! First the beds are ammended, tilled, and graded.

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Next, the bulbs are meticulously laid out according to the plan. By meticulous I mean that spacing is measured using wooden plant labels cut to the desired length. Some bulbs are spaced 3" apart, some are 5", depending on the variety. This is my progress on placing these Foxtrot tulips in the pink border.

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The plastic pots mark the future location of spring annuals.

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You can kind of see the patterns here - imagine riotous drifts of color...
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After lunch, planting begins!

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Interesting technique, eh?

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Once in the ground, the bulbs are tucked in and covered with deer netting to keep the squirrels out. Soon as they begin to break through the soil, we'll put up an electronic deer fence at night to keep the hungry critters from browsing the display away. Come April, you'll see something like this!

Photo: Longwood Gardens Digital Gallery 2009
Worth it? Heck, yeah! Now pass me that bottle of aspirin!