Chandor Gardens is named after Douglass Chandor and was the personal playground for him and his wife, Ina. Basically, it's a huge backyard for his house and artist's studio. The story is as follows:
What began as an artist's dream nearly 70 years ago stands today as a world renowned garden. Douglass Chandor, an Englishman who came to this country in 1926, established himself as one of the great artists of the 20th century. His portraits of President Herbert Hoover, President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are among five of his paintings exhibited in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.
Following their marriage in 1934, Douglass Chandor and Ina Kuteman settled in their hometown of Weatherford, Texas. The couple began their home and surrounding gardens, which they named White Shadows, on family ground in 1936. A cactus covered, caliche hillside evolved into a series of "garden rooms" featuring English and Chinese motifs. When questioned about his passion for gardening, Douglass would reply that he was given the skills to paint in order to build his garden.
White Shadows flourished under Douglass' care for 16 years until his death in 1953. As a tribute to her husband, Ina changed the name to Chandor gardens and kept it open to the public until 1978 when she passed away. For the next 16 years the garden fell into a state of neglect. Melody and Chuck Bradford purchased the garden in 1994 and lovingly restored the home and gardens. The City of Weatherford acquired Chandor gardens in 2002.
I have a travel book of every tourist spot in the state and I'd made this trek once before - only this time I had a camera. So take a stroll with me on a warm but pleasant summer day and explore both the garden and spirit of Douglass and Ina Chandor.
The main entrance. The road winds to the left from here.
The sense of excitement builds as you peek at the house and gardens on your way to the parking area. It just exudes good vibes - and does not disappoint.
Entrance to the garden area. I love the fairy tale arch. As you can guess, it's a popular place for marriage ceremonies.
This is "Ina's Walk" which was the initial feature of the garden in 1936. The brick inscription is a Latin message to Ina: "May this little garden flourish, consecrated to Ina, in the year of Our Lord Edward the Eighth, forevermore."
The walk leads to the Italiante pergola on the way to the main house. To the left is a cubbyhole where a shaded bench resides for a relaxing view and to absorb the garden. The Chandors put many such benches in the garden and I just imagined them sitting and gazing into one another's eyes and smiling at their creation, of both their marriage and estate.
This is the view from that bench where you can see through to the courtyard which has at its center an astrolabe fountain that's the hub of four walkways leading out from it.
The courtyard is the main place for receptions; guarded by a massive cedar elm tree.
Once in the house you can see miniature versions of Douglass's famous portraits. I purchased my ticket and asked for a tour of the rest of the house. I played my "I'm a blogger for Open Salon" card and she hastily obliged.
The kitchen had been modernized by the Bradfords in the 90's when they lived there. Not large, but very charming.
Here's your view from the breakfast nook as you have your coffee every morning. Magical.
Here's the sitting room where Douglass often asked his subjects to pose. The unfinished portrait was discovered during restoration and has yet to be identified.
These pictures were also unearthed during restoration and were quite a find. The brunette woman you see behind Douglass is the Queen of England. These were taken during the time he painted her portrait (which resides in the house).
This homey fireplace was lined with pictures on each side. One of a very famous painting:
The portrait with FDR standing is said to be the only one of its kind.
This was actually the master bedroom. The two doors you see at the back open out to an eastern facing porch where you can overlook the gardens. Since the entire property sits on a high point, I can just imagine the morning sunrises they shared.
Douglass's studio. The sense of space is so very conducive to creativity and one feels almost as if walking on holy ground as you enter. I got a very special feeling as I stepped in.
A nautical looking oval window gave light from the side. Next to it is a Chinese drawing, one of the motifs running throughout the house.
A photo of the artist at work back in the day.
These Chi-Ling statues were originally used in a garden fountain. Bronze replicas were made so these could be restored and preserved inside the house. They reside on a table in the front entryway.
A view of the eastern porch. One would have to imagine chairs were set out back when the house was occupied. From here we'll start our journey through the garden.
View from the porch. The Chandors liked water and fountains. Like the courtyard, the fountain is a hub for paths leading in different directions.
To the left we're taken to the Chinese bridge which leads to the front door. The water streams up around to the left and is filled with koi fish.
We go up the stream, cross over these lily pad steps and we're transported to a place of English whimsy, giving us the taste of a British manor.
This gnome-like fellow greets us, inspecting visitors with his monocle.
Next we find the Bowling Green where bocce ball and croquet was played. Now it's the site of most weddings.
The Pixie Pond is close by. Little characters like these are spread all through the garden. The Chandors put lovely details into the nooks and crannies, one need only look to find them.
As we cross back we come to the Mount Cox waterfall, providing a cooling cove of splashing water. Douglass Chandor's favorite dream was to build such a waterfall but it wasn't completed until after his death.
We cross the Trellis Pond, home to rock formations designed to look like various animals, and also a Chinese junk.
Coming across we find the Stone of the Immortals, fashioned by Douglass after structures found in Chinese gardens. It is a symbol of luck and protection for the gardens.
The back edge of the garden holds the Moon Gate, with a Chinese lake diorama as its destination
A close-up of the diorama.
Leading out from the Moon Gate we are set on a direct line to the Cave Grotto back near the garden entrance.
A Chinese goddess greets us as we pass. Be sure to check my Flikr link at the end to see more of these statuettes, some no more than a couple of inches high.
The Chi-Ling fountain with its bronze replicas marks the halfway point.
The Cave Grotto, another place for cool shade and meditation.
Using a zoom lens, we can see all the way back to the Moon Gate. I thought it was a genius idea to link the two, as if two people could sit in each spot and still feel connected.
When I saw this I thought of 1Mom's wonderful photos and decided to try my hand at it.
Finally, I had to bid adieu.
Click here to see the full set.
Note: much of the garden information came from the brochure handed out for the tour.