I have a taste for the absurd, the wildly impractical and the creative. Add to that real or imagined historical context and VOILA! you have my favorite type of garden folly. It’s really too bad that there’s little interest–both economically and aesthetically–in follies any more. I love me a tumbled down ruin that really isn’t. The Garden Designers Roundtable is posting on Renovation and Restoration today so I thought I’d take the contrary approach!
Build something that looks like it’s falling down–and has been for years, and years, and years. Why? Because it gives you pleasure. We don’t do that enough in life.
Last Saturday I took some time and a 45 minute detour to visit my favorite folly. The Ruin at Chanticleer is only ten years old. It was built on what was left of the foundation of another house. It is witty and intelligent. It is without a doubt one of my favorite garden spaces…ever. Chanticleer, a pleasure garden outside of Philadelphia is a place of incredible imagination and inspiration. It is open to the public and if you are ever within shouting distance it is well worth the trip and the incredibly economical $5.00 entrance fee.
On a small hill planted with Carex appalachia, the ruin begs further exploration.
And just inside the ‘door’…
There is so much to look at in the folly and so many convergent deas here that I’ve chosen to only feature a few. It’s really one of those places that needs to be experienced in reality rather than via photographs and text.
Espalier and succulents on the wall are reflected in a huge black granite sarcophagus like water feature.
The library is adjacent to the ‘Great Hall’ complete with books…
Through another opening is a slightly disturbing water feature with carved stone faces by sculptor Marcia Dohahue.
There are also planted fireplaces, containers, gardens run amok and hundreds of little details. No matter how many times I’ve visited, each time I could stay for hours.
So next time garden restoration and renovation is a topic of discussion, why not take the opposing view and think about follies as a place of discovery and wonder. Follies aren’t really a folly, they are a place to experiment wildly with the unexpected, the uncommon, and the undone.
The rest of the Roundtable posts can be found by clicking the links below.