Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. ~Søren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian and author, considered the first existentialist philosopher
Once again, it’s time for Walktober, the annual group-walk hosted by Robin over at Breezes at Dawn. Participants each take a walk (or bike, skate, whatever) and write a post about it (with photos); then, Robin does a roundup linking to the participants so we can all “walk” together and share our amazing world.
Today, I’m headed to Monticello, Illinois (near Champaign-Urbana) to the Allerton Park and Retreat Center. There are 14 miles of hiking trails (no, we don’t have to explore ALL of them!), but lace up your sneakers and join me. It’s a gorgeous day — clear and sunny, with morning temps in the 50s, but it will warm up as we go.
Built as a private residence in 1900 by artist/philanthropist Robert Allerton, the Allerton Park and Retreat Center offers 1,500 acres of woodland and prairie, 14 formal gardens, hiking trails, a reflecting pond, and an impressive mansion:
I was told the mansion’s first floor is open to the public unless previous events have booked it. The day I visited, it was closed, but I couldn’t resist snapping a sneak shot of what I think was called the grand gallery:
In 1946, the property and buildings were donated to the University of Illinois; today, Allerton is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois. Conferences, summer camps and concerts, retreats, and community programs allow visitors to experience nature, history, and art … free of charge. Let’s visit one of those gardens. Here’s the entrance:
You might have noticed the path is lined with immense arborvitae:
Ever wonder what it feels like to be inside a wall of trees? I did, too! Reminds me of some movie or other, I can’t remember which:
The next is the triangle parterre garden. “Parterre” is French for “along the ground” and features symmetrical garden beds with gravel paths between … and no flowers:
I understand the gardens are most striking in Spring and Summer when the flowers are in bloom. There wasn’t much in the way of Fall color, to my disappointment.
Robert Allerton was a Chicago native who held a lifelong appreciation of art and traveled the world, bringing pieces home with him. This 7-foot high statue called Adam is a copy of the one made by Auguste Rodin:
The next is called the Avenue of Chinese Musicians. Why? I don’t know, but even Allerton guides think their features are Westernized:
Here’s a closeup so you be the judge:
The House of the Golden Buddhas is a concrete gazebo with two teakwood Siamese Buddhas:
This is one of two Chinese Maze Gardens with goldfish sculptures:
The map I got from a fellow visitor says this is the reflecting pond. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get close enough to really see it because the area was closed because of a prior group meeting. The water looks pretty murky though, don’t you think:
The lady at the Information Desk told me the Sunken Garden is popular for wedding ceremonies. I forgot to count how many steps down it is from the rest of the property, but it really is sunken (and used to serve as the mansion’s garden dump!):
One of my favorite spots was the Fu Dog Garden. Featuring 22 lapis lazuli-colored sculptures purported to ward off demon spirits, this garden combines two things I like (the color blue and dogs!):
Here’s a closeup of one. He’s got the Sit command down pat:
Thanks for joining me on my walk — and thanks again to Robin for organizing Walktober. If you ever need a nudge to keep moving, remember this:
Exercise! — because zombies will eat the slow ones first. ~Internet meme