The “Snatcher of Baby Bears” – Fremiet Reinstalled

The Fremiet “Bear” previously installed at The Park has recently been reinstalled near its original installation site on the path near the newly renovated Goldfish Pond. The trail off the main parking lot or off the Foo Dog Garden will lead you to the two Fremiet bronzes.

Who was the first transgressor in this sculptural work?

The Hunter carries many weapons, tools or protective elements

The Hunter carries many weapons, tools or protective elements

Eight Feet Tall - Bronze - circa 1887

Eight Feet Tall – Bronze – circa 1887

The Bear - Emmanuelle Fremiet - circa 1887

The Bear – Emmanuelle Fremiet – circa 1887

The Hunter in the grips of a wounded bear

The Hunter in the grips of a wounded bear

Life and Death Struggle for Man and Bear

Life and Death Struggle for Man and Bear


Snatcher of Baby Bears

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Puvis de Chavannes at Allerton House and Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library Entrance

Boston Public Library Entrance

What does The Park (Robert Allerton Park) and the Boston Public Library have in common? The answer: Puvis de Chavannes.

Have you visited the Boston Public LIbrary. 2016 8 1 Left wall Library2016 Boston LIbrary Panorama from ground floorThe murals by the great French artist, Puvis de Chavannes were painted in his French studio on canvas to detailed measurements by the building’s architect, McKim (later McKim and White).
The panels were then installed by an assistant in 1895. 2016 Boston LIbrary Panorama from 2nd floorThe artist was 78 at the time of the creation of this mural masterpiece.

2016 Boston Library Puvis Portico murals

These are the only Puvisde Chavannes murals in the United States.

An alclove on mezzanine

An alclove on mezzaninede Chavannes mural in the United States.

The Art Institute of Chicago owns the de Chavannes painting entitled “The Sacred Grove.” Although for an undetermined length of time, it was installed at Allerton House in the Pine Room.

Vintage postcard c. 1960 of Pine Room at Allerton House with "The Sacred Grove" installed

Vintage postcard c. 1960 of Pine Room at Allerton House with “The Sacred Grove” installed

The archives contain a 1955 letter written by Robert Allerton requesting an indefinite loan of this painting for Allerton House. it is difficult to imagine this masterpiece hanging in the paneled conference room subject to open windows and summer humidity, dry  cigarette smoke, and all the unprotected people traffic that milled through the House during those years – Art Camps, 4-H, Home Extension, Garden Groups. At first reading of this archived letter, the reader can not conceive of the Art Institute granting this request. But the ephemera proves otherwise.

The Sacred Garden by Puvis de Chavannes is back at the AIC as part of its rotating collection.2009 7 14 de Chavannes Sacred Grove on exhibition at Chicago Art Institute According to the oral biography of Richard Pratt, architect and colleague of John Gregg while employed with the architect David Adler, it was commonplace for Directors and Members of the Art Institute of Chicago Board to borrow items from the AIC stores. Adler borrowed many architectural pieces to have them copied in his workshop for future use in his interior design.

A visit to the Boston Public Library is well worth the time to visit. Not only are the de Chavannes spectacular visions to grace the grand entrance to the Library, but the library artwork in another wing includes equally spectacular murals by John Singer Sargent. But that’s for another posting, since there is a stretch of a connection between Robert Allerton and John Singer Sargent.

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Fu Dog in a Garden

The fourth swallowtail released August 6th

The fourth swallowtail released August 6th

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There’s one more butterfly in The Park today

All butterflies, but especially the Monarch, in Piatt County, in Central Illinois, and throughout the Midwest Corn Belt are becoming ‘extinct.’ From early July until mid-August, intensive aerial application (crop dusting) of pesticides on row crop corn and soybeans is killing the honeybees, all species of butterfly and hummingbirds.

During the July crop dusting, when the Joe-Pye weed begins blooming, the aerial

Two Swallowtail feed on Joe Pye at the Centuar trail head

Two Swallowtail feed on Joe Pye at the Centuar trail head

application of pesticides coincides with the Swallowtail cycle. By nature, birds migrate, insects emerge or hatch based upon food source and season. The Black Swallowtail prefers parsley and dill in the caterpillar stage, but the adults feed on Joe-Pye. In 2006 during a very brief 24 hours in mid-July, the Centaur trail head, lined with Joe-Pye, became gathering place for countless numbers and many varieties of Swallowtail. 2007, as a result of the rapid switch to GMO corn and soybean production, widespread crop dusting began. Every year, this agricultural activity has increased in acres and poundage of pesticide applied. This year, the number of swallowtail seen on this same trail at any given time can be counted on two hands.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Now, in August, the attention turns to aerial application of pesticide on soybeans. This time of the year coincides when the milkweed are blooming, which is the only plant where the monarch lay their eggs. The caterpillar eat the milkweed, morph into chrysalis and emerge 10-14 days later as fully developed Monarch. Unlike Swallowtail which primarily hibernate in deep crevices or migrate only far enough to climates to winter over with food sources to maintain the generational cycle. The Monarch migrates thousands of miles from Canada to Mexico. Such migration requires several generations of Monarch for each yearly migration. The ‘stop’ in Central Illinois coincides with the prevalence of food available – which is flowering milkweed now primarily found along ditches. Few ditches are left unmown by early July. Owing to habitat loss and extensive pesticide use, we now have very few Monarch butterflies. This disappearance of the Monarch is well documented by scientists. The decline and disappearance of the honeybee population is also well documented. Many factors are at play, but widespread pesticide use is a major factor attributed to this coming extinction. This year we and our neighbors observe a sudden decline in hummingbirds.

This year, in order to do our small part, we have brought caterpillars found on the parsley (favorite of swallowtail) into the house to feed so they can successfully morph into butterflies. They are then released at The Park which is the most pesticide free zone we can find.

Swallowtail Chrysalis ready for Butterfly to Emerge

Swallowtail Chrysalis ready for Butterfly to Emerge

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So far, four have been released.

We have yet to find a Monarch egg or caterpillar.

What are we doing to our environment? What are we doing to our planet?

What do these pesticides do to us?





For more information:


Released Swallowtail on one of the pillars at the Centaur trail head


IMG_5524 IMG_5528 IMG_5533 IMG_5556

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How Did You Score on the Previous Test?

In case you missed the Wildflower Identification Field Test, refer to the previous post. How many different flowers can you identify in this photo? More than four?


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This is a Test….

……. of your knowledge of and ability to identify the Spring wildflowers of Allerton Park. Each of the following photos were taken this year (2016). From the given list of wildflower names, match each with the appropriate photo.

The list of Wildflower Common Names: Snow Trillium; Red Trillium; Trout Lily; Shooting Stars (bloomed); Shooting Stars (bloom stalk); Pussy Toes; Dutchmen’s Breeches (bloomed); Dutchmen’s Breeches (rhizomes); Phlox; Wild Geranium; Wild Ginger; May Apple; True Solomon’s Seal; False Solomon’s Seal; Swamp Buttercup; Spring Beauty; Bellwort; Toothwort; Bloodroot. (You can click on each picture for full screen view.)


IMG_2411IMG_2403IMG_3409 IMG_3385 IMG_2877 IMG_2849 IMG_2829


IMG_3553 IMG_3237 IMG_3185 IMG_3075 IMG_3067 IMG_3009 IMG_2955 IMG_2929 IMG_2897

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True or False Friend?

True Friends are like diamonds, Precious and Rare.

False Friends are like autumn leaves, Found Everywhere….



Throughout the Park, Solomon’s Seal grows abundantly. True Solomon’s Seal and False Solomon’s Seal look identical until it blooms and bears fruit. Once the budding is evident, it is quite easy to tell the two apart. Isn’t that like Life? In the first picture, can you tell which Solomon’s Seal it is?

Between Picture 2 and Picture 3, which one is true? Which is false?

Enjoy The Park.

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Buck Schroth Trail – Hepatica Hill

Hepatica Hill is Stunning ~

IMG_2403At least among close friends and family, the first bluff overlooking the Sangamon River on the Buck Shroth Trail is known as Hepatica Hill. It is a great place to sit against a tree amidst this bed of Hepatica flowers to watch the river flow by and be present to all the senses of the space.

A picture can not capture the beauty of the flowery excess

A picture can not capture the beauty of the flowery excess

The Hepatica have not bloomed this vibrantly for many years. The White snow trillium are already fading and were not as abundant as some years.IMG_2350 The Hepatica is blooming in dark, vibrant pastels – deep lavender and even purple. Spring Beauties are now opening. IMG_2408A few random Dutchmen Breeches bear three to four leaves and some show the beginning bloom.

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

They are not yet plentiful, but by next weekend for the Wildflower Identification Hike lead by the Allerton Director of Natural Areas, Nate Beccue, the wildflowers should be abundant in variety. Reports are the Hike is already Sold Out and have a waiting list for tickets that come available. What a successful program this has been. Managing the ticket sales / reservations with the Event Brite App has been an efficient (and only way) to reserve a spot on one of these nature hikes. Many or most are limited to twenty five. Mr. Beccue leads a casual but highly informative hike. There will be an abundance of wildflowers in bloom for next week’s Wildflower Hike. The Jacks and the Pulpits, Purple Trillium and May Apples may require a later Spring hike for the later Spring flowers.

Last weekend the flood plain was dry enough to hike since the high waters of December. IMG_2318The beaver are quite active in The Park plain. A fallen tree, probably uprooted in the water, has now been chewed like corn on the cob. It’s interesting to see that beaver only chew the cambium, spitting out the outer bark, and not going to the wood below. Maybe like biting out the inner white pith of an orange rind – best part of an orange.

Animal Slide to River

Animal Slide to River

Along the river edge on the flood plain, several active beaver slides are well-used and visible in the mud.

Recently girdled tree by beaver

Recently girdled tree by beaver

It’s also too bad the beaver just girdle the tree of the cambium layer, which is the food supply circulation to the rest of the tree. Once the cambium layer has been removed around the tree, girdling the tree, the tree is unable to circulate food distal to the girdling. Thus the tree begins to die. Some trees, the beaver chew down and seemingly haul off in total, down the slide and into the river. This would be an interesting trail video…..

The gardens are looking nice. The trees have been trimmed. Flowers are blooming and others planted. The Girl with the Scarf is uncovered and basking again in the sun.

Biggest news, however, is that the roofing project is nearing an end.

Lowering the Scaffolding

Lowering the Scaffolding

The overhead scaffolding was lowered this week and carted away. IMG_2367The upper sections of the outer scaffolding have also been removed. The roof looks amazing. The copper flashing and ice cleats shoot sharp sun beam reflections. The copper roofed cupola still gleams in the sun, but in the course of winter has taken a nearly perfect patina.IMG_2394

The 2016 Concert Series has just been announced as well. Early concerts will take place in the Gate House Lawn then move to the Meadow. A good way to introduce the public to a vision of a future music destination – like a downstate Ravinia. The proposed Music venue will radiate from the new Bulb Garden. The winding path was poured last fall.IMG_2374

The Bulb Garden has good feng shui. IMG_2373The winding path is bilaterally equal. The center overlooks the meadow, with the house in view to the left. It’s a great place for 24 Form Yang Tai Chi, Ba Duan Jin and Yi Jin Jing. Anyone interested in joining – garden tai chi at The Park?

For now, the real dazzle in The Park is on the Buck Schroth Trail. The Lost Garden Trail slopes seem less abundant than Buck Schroth, but may just be a few days behind. By next week, the Spring Beauties, Hepatica and Dutchmen’s Breeches will be abundant on the slopes. The mottled leaves of Trout Lily won’t be long away. Bloodroot should also be blooming within the next week. Bloodroot prefers more shade than the early bloomers, and will be found in moist shade/sun, along with Wild Ginger.

Lots to look forward to this time of year at The Park, but only if “You get your boots on and Start Hiking.

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Spring Wildflowers – ‘Open for Business’ – Hepatica and White Trillium

The wildflowers are officially ‘Open for Business’ on the Buck Schroth and Lost Garden trails.



Hepatica Blooms

Hepatica Blooms

In the course of 24 hours, the Hepatica and White Trillium have pushed back the oak leaf mulch and bloom abundantly on the sheltered river slopes of the Lost Garden and Buck Shroth trails.

The nodding flower  - White Snow Trillium

The nodding flower – White Snow Trillium

IMG_2291The Spring Beauties show their first leaves. The green moss is also blooming sending up tall erect spores from the green carpet.

White Snow Trillium

White Snow Trillium

No sign seen of the Dutchmen or Bloodroot, but certainly won’t be long.
Do take the time for even a short walk to the river bluffs and slopes on the Buck Schroth trail.IMG_2281 This is always an accessible trail and hikable after a rain.



Moss Spores

Even a day makes a difference in the wildflower season. Get your boots on and enjoy The Park.

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“You have a lot of gall!”

On the tree identification hike, a discussion began about the meaning of this expression – ‘You/He/She has a lot of gall.’ On the hike, our leader had pointed out the abundant tree gall. Tree gall occurs as a sort of auto-immune reaction by the tree to the laying of eggs on its branch by a wasp. Among a few hikers, the discussion turned to the meaning of the word ‘gall’ in this expression. All agreed it meant a response to perceived, untoward, hurtful or angering behavior. Then the discussion turned to its spelling – “gall” or “Gaul” (like in the warring people who invaded France and England)?

Tree gall

Tree gall

The decider of all questions a.k.a. The Internet or Google, does not provide a clear and decisive definition, although the leading consensus is “gall.”

Gall has two definitions – both unpleasant. One definition refers to the irritation and rubbing that makes the skin sore. “The saddle galled the horse’s back.” “Tight fitting clothes will gall sensitive skin areas.”

The other definition of gall, the most commonly used, relates to the organs that produce bile, or gall. The liver, gall bladder and spleen produce gall. While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long associated the gall bladder with the function of making careful decisions and is the determinant of courage. TCM also associates an excess of the gall bladder as a source of emotional imbalance – anxiety, anger, worry.

Ancient medicine recognized the four Humors of the body: water, blood, black bile (kidney and spleen) and yellow bile (liver and gall bladder). Diseases were diagnosed as an excess or deficiency of one or more of the humors. From this perspective, we arrive at another expression “to be in bad humor.”

In another example, while animal butchering, chickens, for example, the gall bladder is a tiny green, thin-membraned organ that sits under the liver and tucked up within the lobes of the liver. While butchering, great care must be taken to remove the gall bladder from the liver. If the gall bladder membrane breaks, the green viscous bile is released and contaminates the liver. Unless washed away quickly and thoroughly, the bile can render the liver inedible owing to its bitter invasive taste. IMG_1899

On another negative illustration, during the course of stomach flu or hangover when the stomach is void, sustained wretching only brings up bitter, yellow bile.

Another definition of gall is that of the most bitter grief and the most extreme emotional affliction.

The references made to the use of ‘Gaul’ in this expression are those about the characteristics of the barbarous behaviors of these early invaders.

On another note, the human liver has three lobes and is red, and sometimes splotchy red. The Greek word, Hepatic, refers to the liver. The leaves of Hepatica have three lobes and are liver colored, or splotchy liver colored, same as the human liver. The liver, if laid out flat and its lobes separated, also resembles the shape of Hepatica leaves. The Greeks, who evidently examined bodies in the quest to explain human condition, named many plants according to human similarities or applications, or both. Hepatica, resembles the liver, and was used to treat conditions associated with the liver.

Yesterday while hiking, a lot of gall had fallen from the trees, owing to wind and natural tree shedding. The Hepatica leaves stand tall in the leaf mulch that has been its bedcover for the winter. There was certainly a lot of ‘gall’ in The Park.

So, the answer to this question? Still to be decided.

The solution to having “a lot of gall?” Get over it. (human) Enjoy it. (flowers) For both – Get your boots on and hike The Park.


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