Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

From weeds to cooling woodland

With temperatures nudging toward 100 degrees, July 4 may not have been the best time to visit a public garden, but on the up side, there was plenty of parking at Chanticleer - and lots to see, including the new three-acre Bell's Woodland, a shade garden featuring ferns, sedges, azaleas, trilliums, and other natives plants, that replaces a hodgepodge of invasive weeds. The new garden also features what I've previously described as "a bridge sculpted to look like a fallen beech tree."

From weeds to cooling woodland

With temperatures nudging toward 100 degrees, July 4 may not have been the best time to visit a public garden, but on the up side, there was plenty of parking at Chanticleer - and lots to see, including the new three-acre Bell's Woodland, a shade garden featuring ferns, sedges, azaleas, trilliums, and other natives plants, that replaces a hodgepodge of invasive weeds. The new garden also features what I've previously described as "a bridge sculpted to look like a fallen beech tree."

That's technically accurate, but until I saw it yesterday, I had no idea how interesting this utilitarian work of art would be. This photo shows the entrance to the hollowed-out tree/bridge. It's very hard to describe, so for this (and many other reasons) you need to go to Chanticleer yourself.

On a hot day, the woodland garden is a relief - and, like the rest of this very intentional place, meticulously planted. The ferns are wonderful, didn't look overheated at all, and I noted masses of coral bells (that's my story in tomorrow's H&D section) used as ground cover, which is a wonderful takeaway idea.

The vegetable garden is always a treat. Interesting to see how the lettuces are left to go to seed, forming green and red towers that are quite ornamental. In my little garden, I just ripped these out to make room for beans. I don't have the room to play with that Chanticleer has! Of course not, or I, too, would've planted plenty of sunflowers - and a three-acre .. or so .. woodland.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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