Allerton Garden renovation honors Illinois alum, nature photographer

New life will be given to Allerton’s Triangle Parterre Garden, thanks to a generous donation from Dana Brehm and Larry Baumann, in remembrance of their sibling and brother-in-law, Barry Brehm. The Garden, at Allerton Park in Monticello, sits just past the visitor center, and draws visitors down the sidewalk lined with Arborvitae to the Adam […]

Written by Bridget Frerichs
Photographs by Barry Brehm
12.18.18

New life will be given to Allerton’s Triangle Parterre Garden, thanks to a generous donation from Dana Brehm and Larry Baumann, in remembrance of their sibling and brother-in-law, Barry Brehm.

The Garden, at Allerton Park in Monticello, sits just past the visitor center, and draws visitors down the sidewalk lined with Arborvitae to the Adam statue. Staff notes that currently the Garden is out of scale, and the intended look and feel that Robert Allerton had for the space are gone.

“This is what happens to gardens, living and breathing – nature takes its course and spreads out-of-bounds,” said Allerton’s Assistant Facilities Manager Micah Putman. “The renovation includes removing all the dead and overgrown plant material. Invasive amur privet hedge will be replaced with more maintenance-friendly boxwood hedge, which is slower growing and has fewer pests.”

A variety of more compact Arborvitae will also be planted. Putman noted that these short, conical evergreens will be no taller than the existing garden walls to let the sun in – upholding the original vision of Robert Allerton.

The Brehm and Baumann families’ donation in memory of Barry will fund the complete renovation, and provide a named endowment for the long-term care and maintenance of the Garden.

This photograph and the one at the top are courtesy of the Estate of Mr. Barry Brehm, B.S. 1976, University of Illinois Archives Record Series 26/30/11.

Barry graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 1965, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois (1976) after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1972 during the Vietnam War. Barry joined Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where he was the Director of Operations Review for 27 years. He was a highly regarded local outdoor photographer with a few hundred of his color landscapes gracing the offices, hallways, and conference rooms throughout Carle Clinic and Carle Foundation Hospital.

“Barry developed his interest in photography as a creative outlet. He began taking photographs in 1984 after a local photography class,” remembered Barry’s sister, Dana Brehm. “He developed his interest into a lifelong hobby, becoming a recognized and awarded local landscape photographer.”

Dana noted that while Barry loved to photograph many of the National Parks while traveling, locally he fell in love with nature and the beauty of Allerton Park.

“He loved the trees, leaves and flowers,” Dana recalled. “He documented all of the seasons, in all of the gardens and the mansion, over the years with his beautiful photography.”

After Barry passed away in May 2017, Dana and Larry wanted to honor his memory with a contribution to a place he loved. Dana is also an Illinois graduate, and is happy to support the university. Barry had photographed the view of the Triangle Parterre Garden path over the years, capturing its beauty in various lights and seasons, and visiting many times with Dana.

“We like the direction the Park is taking with its renovations and revitalization and community outreach programs, and felt we would like to support these efforts,” Dana said. “We thought the renovation of the Triangle Parterre Garden at Allerton Park was a perfect fit. We could think of no better way to make a lasting memory for Barry and in a place near to his family and friends.”

Ultimately, the Garden renovation, projected to be completed in Spring 2019, will result in a historically inspired, highly manicured, and beautiful Triangle Parterre Garden – a landscape Putman hopes will honor the memory of Barry Brehm.

“I can’t express how honored Allerton’s horticulture staff and I are to be working on this project,” Putman explained. “I hope the new landscape will be one that would have caught Barry’s artistic eye – and will be photographed for generations to come.”

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