Chanticleer’s dreamy House Garden – Digging

January 01, 2024

Happy New Year! Let’s kick off 2024 with another post about glorious Chanticleer Garden, which I visited in late September during the Philadelphia Area Fling. Today I’ll show you the House Garden.

Gravel Circle

A rooster statue — the symbol of Chanticleer — greets you at the front of the house amid a tumble of pink roses and hardy begonias.

Raked gravel circles in the front courtyard swirl around towering bananas in containers.

Distinctive Chanticleer chairs offer a spot to sit and drink it all in.

A starry seedpod


Rounding the house, you get an eyeful of golden furcraea and ‘Ascot Rainbow’ euphorbia amid purple flowers and silver foliage.

Pretty foliage

The gardeners at Chanticleer arrange flowers and leaves in water vessels throughout the garden, to everyone’s delight. I picture them like little elves, dashing around before opening time every day, snipping and collecting and arranging.

It’s a beautiful thing to come across as you’re exploring.

Sun porch

The house’s sun porch pulls you in with striking pots of staghorn fern and other plants, plus sturdy rocking chairs (just out of view).

West Bed

There is SO much to see in the main garden behind the house, including a long terrace jam-packed with gorgeous container plants. Here’s one with stained-glass colocasias.

Beyond, the Dr. Seussian West Bed with striking umbrella trees and black-leaved cannas caught my eye.

This combo — ruffle leaved and long necked — is delightfully goofy to my eyes.

Cannas resembling a flock of exotic birds

A mysterious little candle-carrying figure

Flowery Lawn

I call it a meadow garden. Chanticleer calls it the Flowery Lawn. Whatever you call it, it’s a bold departure from the ho-hum (but useful for gatherings?) croquet lawn at the other end of the house.

Tall, diaphanous flowers look spectacular in contrast with the formality of the space. A swimming pool and twin pool houses lie just beyond.

Romantic and a banquet for pollinators

Gravel terrace

Between the meadow and the swimming pool runs a flagstone path and gravel terrace garden.

A beautifully crafted stair rail incorporates ferns and a cobweb in its design.

Meadow on the left, and bananas and a wavy hedge at the end

On the right, a soft-pink rose nods toward one of the copper-roofed pool houses.

A pair of roosters marks the stairs to the pool.

Swimming pool

The pool area is fenced off to visitors, but you can still look.

Vision in verdigris

The matching pool house at the other end.

Reflecting pool

Parallel to the swimming pool, tucked along a sheltering wall, a reflecting pool offers a cool, watery echo.

Wall fountains trickle at each end under fringy palms.

I love the detail of cut flowers and grasses in the little fountain sculpture.

Looking up at the grand house, you spot another chanticleer crowing his heart out.

Tropical foliage at the rear of the terrace


A stone table and green chairs offer a spot to enjoy the meadow garden and pointy-roofed pool houses beyond.

I love this space.

Here are my early-arrival companions, Diana Kirby and Laura Wills, with whom I spent an entire day at Chanticleer before the Fling tour began. Diana and Laura co-hosted the Austin Fling with me in 2018.

Chanticleer dinner

We returned during the 2nd day of the Fling, and Chanticleer treated us all to dinner, a band, and dancing at the end of the afternoon. What a treat! Here are a few of my fellow Flingers enjoying the House Garden, including Garden Rant‘s Elizabeth Licata, from Buffalo, New York. Elizabeth has been Flinging since the very first one in Austin back in 2008. She also co-hosted the Fling in Buffalo in 2010.

Danger Garden‘s Loree Bohl, from Portland, Oregon, was exploring here too. Loree co-hosted the Fling in Portland in 2014.

I posed with Loree in front of the cannas — what a perfect echo of my pink blouse!

I ran into Gretchen McNaughton of Bailey Nurseries and Kathleen Hennessy (also rocking hot pink), both from Minnesota. Kathleen co-hosted the Fling in Minneapolis in 2016.

And here’s Anneliese Valdes and Andy Young of Fling sponsor CobraHead, from Madison, Wisconsin. Anneliese co-hosted the Fling — heroically, after a 2-year Covid delay — in Madison in 2022. She also came to that very first Austin Fling in 2008.

Here’s Danniel Ward-Packard (right) of Obsessed Midwest Gardener, back for her second Fling (and posing with a friendly, non-Flinging visitor). I’ve never seen Danniel without a big, happy smile on her face, even during Tropical Storm Ophelia, which dampened the last days of the Fling.

But on this afternoon at Chanticleer, the weather — and the garden — was perfection.

Up next: The Elevated Walkway, Serpentine, and Bulb Meadow gardens at Chanticleer. For a look back at Chanticleer’s Tennis Court Garden, click here.

To read about my past visits to Chanticleer’s House Garden, follow these links:

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Digging Deeper

Hey, Austin-area gardeners, come learn about making a waterwise, Texas-hardy crevice garden! Register for my next Garden Spark talk with Coleson Bruce on January 18th. He’s created one of the most interesting and beautiful xeriscape gardens I’ve seen in Austin. Learn all about it and hang out with fellow gardeners who are interested in good design. Hope to see you there!

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance; simply click this link and ask to be added. The Season 7 lineup can be found here.

All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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