Poppy Brashier, Eliza Beaumont's youngest resident, and her mother Melissa spend a majority of their time in the home's various outdoor sanctuaries, which were designed by Ryan Cole Landscape Architecture. Photos by Jordan Hefler.

Secret Gardens: Behind intricate gates are outdoor hideaways meant to be shared

It was mid-March when silence took hold. Deserted streets led only to empty restaurants, stores, offices and schools. Overnight, the sounds of honking horns, friends chatting and children playing disappeared as people turned to their homes for protection against COVID-19. However, in one tucked-away neighborhood of Baton Rouge, sound remained.

From the wrought-iron-fenced courtyards that lie up and down Eliza Beaumont Lane, jazz permeated the streets. Neighbors eager to share a moment of fellowship gathered in their respective spaces—wine in hand—enjoying music in the midst of a global crisis.

“Here, there is a strong sense of community spirit,” explains neighborhood homeowners association president Harold Brandt. “People are willing to make the stretch for one another. And we all have the common goal of making the neighborhood, and the world, a better place.”

For years, the neighbors have worked to instill this mission in the hearts and minds of every resident. One vital component: the homes’ outdoor spaces that form the backdrop for these nightly get-togethers, which have continued with increased distance amid COVID-19.

“In the evening, you can walk down the street and there’s always someone outside to chat with,” explains homeowner Lisa Boudreaux, who moved to the street with her husband Mark two and a half years ago following his retirement from work in Washington, D.C.

“Don’t even mention the word ‘party’ under your breath unless you want everyone to show up at your house,” says Brandt with a laugh, “most likely with a bottle of wine to share.”

The vibrant personalities of the neighborhood are expressed in the diversity of landscaping up and down the street. From ultra-modern marvels, with meticulously trimmed hedges and sleek fountains, to overflowing hanging pots filled with vibrant tropicals typical of vacation destinations like Hawaii, each space speaks to a piece of the Eliza Beaumont puzzle, contributing to the neighborhood’s character and serving to ensure the street maintains its rich—never boring—character.

“There’s butterflies and natural plants and water features that help keep things looking nice but never sterile,” Brandt explains. “Each garden is a different palette that has been painted on by the current homeowners and those that came before. It’s a special place to live.”

Below are glimpses into the lush courtyards of just a few of the street’s homeowners. Read on to explore.

An intricate wrought-iron gate flanked by vine-covered pillars forms an elegant entry to Buddy and Linda Ohmstede’s courtyard garden. Large crape myrtles offer nearly constant shade, while sago palms and elephant ears—formally known as Colocasia—cover the beds beside a wide brick pathway leading to the house.

Kjell Flanagan is Eliza Beaumont’s longest resident, making her way to the street from Miami in 1983. In her bright space, it’s all about tropicals. “I love all the colors of tropical plants,” she explains.
Hawaiian plumeria flourishes alongside hibiscus and crossandra behind Flanagan’s bench. To maximize planting space, Flanagan took a hint from retail store displays; using wire wall grid panels, she installed descending baskets of succulents. “The baskets dry out quickly, so they’re ideal for plants that don’t like a lot of water,” she explains. “Water trickles down to the sedum and paddle plant below from the potato plant at the top.”

Gardiner and Shirley Bourque’s courtyard is a treasure trove of reimagined materials collected by the home’s previous owners. A large structure that the couple now uses for swinging in the afternoons was once a zoo-caliber cockatiel enclosure. “The original owners built the home themselves,” explains Shirley, “which means there are a lot of interesting things like the reused wood from New Orleans that is used in the columns and birdhouse.”
Throughout the yard, an array of ferns—from maidenhair to narrow swordferns—are carefully looked after by Gardiner. “I don’t golf so I have plenty of time to work outside every day,” he says.

When Mike Crouch moved into this home eight years ago, his biggest project was overhauling the outdoor space to suit his entertaining lifestyle. Adding ample patio space with red brick, he also put in a cocktail pool, which transforms into theater seating during football season as he projects LSU games onto a large white wall. “The water feature is actually in the place of a gate that was knocked over during construction,” he says.
On the house’s exterior walls, antique tile scenes from Portugal add interest, while manicured hedges and beds filled with flax lily and various flowers complete the space.