With Spring just around the corner, I thought now might be a good time to dust off this article I wrote about Chandor Gardens several years ago and post it here. This is a wonderful little place to stroll on a warm Spring day, or to take family pictures.
They open in April, check their Web site for details. Chandor Gardens is the work of the well known twentieth century artist Douglas Chandor. He was an Englishman who came to America in 1926 and established himself as a portrait painter. Some of his better known subjects were Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt.
Chandor married Ina Kuetman and they settled in her hometown of Weatherford Texas. The couple began building their home and Gardens in 1936. Over a period of 16 years Douglas Chandor converted a cactus covered hillside into a truly outstanding one-man garden that remains today as a testament to his gardening and artistic skills.
Chandor himself died in 1953, but his wife kept the gardens open to the public until 1978. Over a period of time the estate fell into disrepair and then was restored and sold to the city of Weatherford in 2002. Today the gardens are open to the public for viewing during scheduled hours for a fee. They also host parties, wedding, and special events. See the Web site for details.
The gardens are broken up into 18 distinct areas or “rooms” featuring English and Chinese motifs. Water and fountains are featured in many of the garden settings. The mansion and courtyard are also quite impressive.
As I walked through these historic gardens, it occurred to me that Chandor Gardens must reflect the art and tastes of Douglas Chandor. While enjoying the Dragon Fountain and Buddha Niche, two adjacent rooms in the garden, my thoughts drifted to folk art. Folk art typically features strong local influences and varied use of materials. The opulent green glass that fringes the base of the Dragon Fountain is, in fact, some sort of commodity green glass bottle. I’m guessing maybe a 1940′s beverage of some sort. This in no way detracts from the overall beauty of the fountain. In fact it occurred to me that this may be the greater art of the artist. Although Chandor was an accomplished portrait painter by training; his greatest and most expressive works may well be on display not at the Smithsonian but here in Chandor Gardens.
2012 update courtesy of Steve:
Annual “Spring Fling” Weekend this year is Saturday, March 31: 9a.m. to 3p.m, and Sunday, April 1: 12 to 4p.m. One dollar admission for everyone.
Celebrate the arrival of Spring at this popular annual event. The Gardens will be in full bloom and ready for your family photos! The weekend will feature music, face painters, food, garden tours, and the “Ask a Master Gardener” information station.
More information can be found on the Chandor Gardens Newsletter Archive.
2010 update from Steve:
Opening weekend for 2010 will be April 3 and 4. The new bronze dragons are now in place on the Dragon Fountain. Last year, we removed the originals and had them restored. Then we cast them in bronze, installed the bronzes in the Dragon fountain, and placed the restored originals in the house (they are not weatherproof).
This update on the 2009 season came from Steve Chamblee, horticulturist at Chandor Gardens.
New and Important Changes
- Opening weekend, April 4&5 this year, is always fun and busy. Admission is just $1, just like Ina used to charge, and we’ll have music, some food, The Texas Bee Charmer, Ask a Master Gardener, and I’m doing a talk on Texas Tough Plants.
- The Labyrinth is located in the center of the garden, on top of an old parking lot. I like that people who are enlightened to labyrinths absolutely love it and get all excited and involved with it; and those who don’t know what it is just kind of go, “Hrmpt…whatever.”
- I am literally in the middle of installing the new bronze sculptures in the Dragon Fountain. (The old ones were very weather-worn, and we’ve had them restored, but they are not weather-proof.) They will have jets of water spraying out of the dragons’ mouths, just like Chandor had them operating back in the day.
- We have replanted lots of pocket areas around the garden, so there is always something new and fresh to see.
- We have lots more koi than last year.
- On sort of a historic note, we are starting new roses for the main pergola in the Silver Garden.
- And we’ve done lots of irrigation work, which no one cares about but us gardeny folks.
711 West Lee Ave. Weatherford Texas, 7606
The Official Chandor Gardens Web Site
Bibliographic note: Most of the information presented here was extracted from a fact sheet provided at Chandor Gardens during my visit.
Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
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