Listen to this article

MONTICELLO — A $200,000 bequest will fund the restoration of the historic Brick Wall Garden at Allerton Park.

The gift from Deborah and Michael Westjohn of rural Monticello means the garden will be maintained in perpetuity, said Allerton Director Derek Peterson.

The garden renovation, expected to be completed in spring 2020, will also make it fully accessible.

The University of Illinois-owned park is at 515 Old Timber Road in rural Monticello.

The Brick Wall Garden was designed by the same architect as the Allerton Mansion, John Borie. The oldest of the formal gardens, it was originally a vegetable garden meant to supply house residents and guests with fresh produce.

It now features lawns, bulb flowers, annual and perennial flowers and espalier apple trees growing against the walls.

Espalier means trees and branches are pruned, and trained, to grow flat against a wall or a free-standing trellis.

While a 2010 major restoration rebuilt the brick wall and replaced the privet hedge with boxwood, at the time there weren’t funds to make all walks fully accessible. There was also no endowment to help maintain the space in the future.

“By using aggregate concrete to replicate the pea gravel paths, we will harden all walkways throughout the garden,” Peterson said. “We have also secured current use funds to replant the surrounding beds, since the pouring of concrete will upset some of the plantings.”

The $200,000 gift from the Westjohn family spurred the accessibility improvements and provided a named endowment for the long-term care and maintenance of the garden.

Deborah Westjohn said the Brick Wall Garden has been her favorite garden since childhood, and she is very happy about the installation of ADA-accessible, natural-looking wide paths.


Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).