By Micah Putman, Facilities Supervisor
Originally a vegetable garden, the Brick Wall Garden is the oldest garden at Allerton, designed by the same architect of the Allerton Mansion, John Borie. It has come a long way since its construction in 1902, and now stands as a classic example of an English walled garden, with clipped boxwood parterre hedge, espalier apple trees trained to grow against the walls, and, thanks to recent donations, the addition of 1,300 new plants, 25 yards of mulch, and accessible sidewalks.
Deborah and Michael Westjohn funded the new plantings, as well as generous endowment, ensuring the garden will be well-cared for in perpetuity. Yearly income will be used for seasonal help, replacement plants, and supplies to maintain the newly renovated garden, which the Westjohns endowed in honor of “all who labor and love for Allerton.”
Along with our dedicated volunteers, Allerton staff carried out the plantings, selecting plant materials based on each flower bed’s individual “microclimate” created by the brick walls and surrounding trees. The color palette includes whites, purples, pinks, burgundy, and yellows, mainly in muted or washed-out tones to keep the feel relaxed.
Although the garden’s brick walls were completely rebuilt in 2009, at the time funding only allowed for the center sidewalk to be paved. The Westjohn’s generosity spurred another individual donor and the University of Illinois Office of the Provost to fund an ADA accessible path throughout the entire garden, replacing pea gravel paths with aggregate concrete. As Allerton seeks to become more accessible for all, projects like this are increasingly important to create the same experience for a wider audience.
Like most initiatives at Allerton, the Brick Wall Garden renovation was an ALL IN effort, and will ensure many more years of garden bliss.