After my post yesterday on blue fu dogs, I received a fascinating comment by Magnaverde on my reference to the Fu Dog Garden at Robert Allerton Park near Monticello, Illinois. Despite having grown up in Lake Forest, Illinois, I was unaware of this wonder. Robert Allerton was the only son of Samuel Allerton, founder of the First National Bank of Chicago. He was an art collector, philanthropist, and artist. He legally adopted as his son his life partner John Gregg. Their estate in Illinois is now the University of Illinois' Robert Allerton Park. Their home in Kauai, Hawaii is now Allerton Garden. He also donated over 6,600 works of art to the Art Institute of Chicago.
The early gardens of the 1,500 acre Allerton Park had a strong European influence, but as he expanded his travels it took on an Asian flair, from the Avenue of the Chinese Musicians, to the Chinese Maze Garden, to the Fu Dog Garden with 22 porcelain fu dogs. Few of you know that I am an avid gardener, a Master Gardener, and studied landscape design, and I would love to someday visit this garden of Chinoiserie delights. My own garden has a strong Chinoiserie influence-wisteria, Japanese quince, peonies, camellias, blue and white Chinese porcelain and my Chinoiserie shed with its Chinese blue door and dragon door knocker. I hope this tour of Robert Allerton Park may inspire you to plan some Chinoiserie features for your own garden this spring.