Revitalizing the Summer Garden
Last spring, Horticulture Instructor, Dr. Andrea Faber Taylor, taught a course that also served as a design competition for the restoration of the summer bulb garden at Allerton Park. Landscape Architecture Senior Mitchel Heiar ’14, won the competition with his entry which replicates the geometric designs Robert Allerton used in the formal gardens while incorporating the native species seen throughout the park. The garden will give the park a new space to host concerts or weddings, while creating a visually stunning display of color. “My inspiration came from discussing the project with my mother,” explains Mitchel. “She is an art teacher and with her influence I derived the idea of a color wheel planting palate. That inspiration led to the discovery of many new and beautiful varieties of native species.”
A $50,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Fund has made many improvements to Allerton Park over the course of the last year. Among those are the new GPS trail marking system for the park, a climate control system for the mansion, and renovation of the visitor center. However, none of these improvements have been as widely anticipated as the revival of the summer bulb garden. The grant from the Chancellor funded the design competition and provided seed funding for the renovation work. Allerton Park will continue fundraising to make Mitchel’s vision a reality.
"One of our goals is to restore the Allerton gardens to their full glory,” says Director of Allerton Park and Retreat Center, Bruce Branham. “[Robert] Allerton had a seasonal garden area that he divided into the four seasons. The spring garden is our spectacular peony garden, which produces a dramatic flowering mid-to late May. The summer garden, or bulb garden, has been turned into lawn for the past ten plus years because we lacked the staff to maintain it.”
Andrea spoke of the importance of this opportunity as professional development for students. “We can teach students design principles and plant material but real learning happens when they are required to apply that new knowledge to an existing site instead of working from a clean slate. They must make adjustments and accommodate many variables to ensure their design is not only beautiful but also functional and sustainable.”
Mitchel echoed her sentiments. “This competition gave me the opportunity to design for a space that I can actually help bring to life, making it the perfect stepping stone into my professional career.”
To learn more or to see seasonal photos of the park, visit Allerton’s Facebook page: facebook.com/AllertonPark.