The Annual Garden is characterized by two long annual planting beds, planted each spring with changing displays. It is bordered by arborvitae hedge on two sides with a concrete wall to the northeast and fencing to the southeast to keep out hungry deer. Espaliered grape vines climb wire trellis on the concrete wall. At the end of the central turf path is a statue of the Marble Faun. Traditionally, Robert Allerton’s head gardener used this space to try new plants and determine what he liked and what was suitable to use elsewhere in the gardens. To this day, the garden’s annual display is designed by the estate’s head gardener. Like many of Robert’s gardens, The Annual Garden’s intimate setting feels much like a small room or hidden garden.Avenue of the Chinese Musicians
Garden information hereAvenue of Formal Gardens
The area known as The Avenue of the Formal Gardens was designed by the Mansion’s architect John Borie to connect the house and the formal gardens. It is laid out in two segments, with a curvilinear southern half and a straight northern half, broken in between by a set of low steps. The path was initially narrower than it is today and was lined with Irish juniper interspersed with yucca and other herbaceous plant materials. Plantings were simplified by 1910 with the small herbaceous plantings removed and the evergreens remaining the dominant formal element along the entire length of the path.
Until 1910 there were two rustic arbors situated at the steps, which were replaced by two long stone benches, one on either side of the path. From 1910 to 1922 there was a Korean Fu Dog sculpture behind each bench, which were replaced in 1922 by the Primitive Men, which still remain.
One of Robert’s friends, Glyn Warren Philpot, created two pieces for Robert during separate visits. In 1913 he painted a portrait of his host called The Man in Black. Robert did not care for it and it now hangs in London’s Tate Gallery. In 1921 Robert’s butler, Ted Page was Philpot’s model for a plaster statue of a man pushing through the earth, balancing a load of library books on his shoulders. Robert was so taken with the sculpture that he commissioned two larger and symmetrical replicas from Chicago stonecutterCharles Laingand faced the life-size stone Primitive Manstatues opposite each other on the path.
Text in-part courtesy of Maureen Holtz.
Garden map location 21Brick Wall Garden
The Brick Wall Garden, designed by architect John Borie, is the oldest of the Formal Gardens. In keeping with the Western European tradition, it was a vegetable garden meant to supply the occupants of the house with fresh produce. Fruit trees were trained to grow against the wall – espalier fashion – using warmth from the enclosed walls to ripen the fruit. By the 1920s, flowers, trees, and vines filled the spots where carrots and other such vegetables staples had been planted. In the 1940s, Allerton replaced the vegetables with grass.
Gates and niches designed by Borie were originally placed at the entrances and terminal views. Eight years later, Borie modified the east entrance to be an alcove with stone fruit baskets topping the area. The original iron gates, with the letter “A” for “Allerton”, can now be seen near the Chinese Maze Garden.
A dipping pool eight feet in diameter was originally built in the center of the garden for the gardeners to cool themselves on hot summer days. But in 1933, Robert had it removed to make way for Girl with a Scarf, the last piece he bought for his Illinois estate. He obtained the sculpture through the Art Institute of Chicago’s 1941-42 Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture.
Today, the Brick Wall Garden contains lawns, bulbs, and annual and perennial flowers. Espalier apple trees growing against the walls, now maintained for looks instead of fruit production, still take careful training and pruning by our dedicated volunteers. Perennial borders line each of the four walls bringing color and variety to the garden. Turf lawns are meticulously maintained by Allerton’s full time horticulture staff on a strict schedule of over seeding, fertilizing, core aeration, and irrigation. ‘Green velvet’ Boxwood hedges anchor the four square garden, replacing where Robert Allerton once had Privet, an invasive and high-maintenance hedge. The four turf spaces provide an excellent carpet for wedding ceremony guests, and bulbs and annuals in the center planting bed provide an ever-changing scene for Park visitors to enjoy year after year.
Text in-part courtesy of Maureen Holtz.Bulb Garden
The Bulb Garden originated as the summer perennial bulb garden. In early spring, 105 rows of narcissus would begin a parade of blossoms that lasted all summer. Poppies followed by white Siberian iris and several different varieties of lilies. The garden had been lined with cypress trees but they were torn out years ago after continued weather damage. Fencing fills the space where the cypress trees once stood, keeping deer from munching on all the free food.
After this garden fell into disrepair in the late 20thcentury, renewal began in 2016. The garden was renovated and is now maintained in memory of Professor Mark E. Roszkowski. The renovated garden was designed by James Schmidt using principles of Gertrude Jekyll, an influential horticulturist and landscape architect during the time that that Robert Allerton built the mansion and gardens. The garden features multi-season bulbs and annual plantings to provide a succession of bloom throughout the growing season.
Text in-part courtesy of Maureen HoltFu-Dog Garden