During Robert and John Gregg Allerton’s tenure at their Monticello, Illinois estate dubbed “The Farms,” they employed a full time staff of ten that included cook, housekeeper, driver/butler and groundskeepers. Some of the staff were married couples or relatives. Some of the workers resided at the Allerton estate. There are bedrooms on the third floor of the House for single workers. Most of them were House workers. The Gatekeepers House and the two gate houses were residences of full-time caretakers. Since Robert and John resided only part-time at The Farms, mostly from April to November (planting until harvest), the task of overseeing The Farms from December until March fell to Robert’s trusted employees. They were a dedicated team.
In a transcribed interview of John Gregg Allerton, he speaks about the workers seeming to melt away when the couple emerged from the House. The same is true today. The gardens are groomed, the paths are swept clear, the pebble walks are raked, the meadow is mown, the tall arborvitae spikes are trimmed – and few visitors see this work happen. The wedding guests this weekend didn’t know that by 7:00 AM that morning, crews were sprucing up and setting up. The same is true for yesterday’s ceremony in the Fu Dog Garden, that crews worked early to make the land and plantscape the perfect backdrop for a magical moment.
Isn’t this the magical part about Allerton Park?
Next time you visit the Park, examine all the details that make up this backdrop. Notice the espalier Trees of Life in the brick garden. Do you know the significance of the Tree of Life? Notice the elements that make the Allerton garden an architectural garden. Notice the crunch of the pebbles intended to require a slower step. Notice the symmetry. The line of the formal gardens extends to the Centaur, but the hard-surface walk ends at the Sunken Garden. The hard-surface walk extends from the House to and through the formal gardens to the Sunken Garden. Access to the pond for wheeled vehicles is best using the wooden platform viewing overlook.
When Robert and John Gregg Allerton left Monticello for Kauai, Robert was 60 years old. John Gregg, his junior, by some twenty years. When the couple moved to the island, Robert actually worked – for the first time. He was no longer a gentleman farmer. He worked alongside John and the work crew in creating new landscaped gardens using the Hawaiian land and plantscapes.
The experience of entering the Kuaui Allerton Tropical Garden is strikingly the same as that of entering Robert Allerton Park. Magical. Majestic. Mysterious. Memorable memories. Meaningful moments. Mind blowing. Merrymaking.
For a moment suspended in time, please visit The Park, soon. And IF you see the Park staff, tell them thanks for making the Park such a beautiful place. In light of the current State budget, we are lucky to still have the Park!