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.
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.
Off of the Brashiers’ side porch is a tranquil oasis. Designed by Ryan Cole Landscape Architecture, the space is a treat for the senses, with a simplistic concrete fountain that stands out against hedges of Japanese yew and winding evergreen wisteria. Underfoot, a blanket of “Black Raven” gravel transforms to showcase sparkling quartzite crystals that shine amid a deep black backdrop when wet.
A few weeks after moving in, Brandon and Melissa Brashier learned they were expecting their first child. “As soon as the news got out to the neighborhood, everyone was telling me that we were going to have a street full of Nanas and Yayas,” says Melissa with a laugh. “That has definitely been true.”
Poppy, now 2 years old, plays between walls of fragrant Japanese yew, which connect each of the Brashiers’ distinct outdoor spaces, including a large side yard ideal for the family’s dogs.
Five years ago, Buddy and Linda downsized from the A. Hays Town house they shared for nearly 42 years. A smaller footprint allows the couple to spend more time enjoying their courtyard, which features ample space for their 8-year-old Portuguese water dog, Tank. “My favorite thing is the view from the bedroom,” Linda notes. “In the morning, you can look out and see the light coming through the trees. It’s wonderful.”
In a quiet corner of the yard, a pond is filled with vibrant koi fish. As the fish surface to accept food from Buddy, their orange hues offer a pleasing contrast with the green of floating lily pads. A pair of fountains finish off the space, adding soft background noise.
While the Boudreauxs have lived in far-flung places across the country—from Washington, D.C. to Alaska—they have found retirement bliss on the quiet street. Originally from New Orleans, the couple married their love for the Crescent City and the Capital City with a French Quarter-inspired abode. “My parents lived in Baton Rouge when my kids were growing up,” Lisa says. “We came back here for all the holidays and vacations. So even though my kids aren’t from here, they grew up here.”
Below a painted front porch, a bed of agapanthus and dwarf azaleas creates a lush look from the street, while a Japanese maple and a few ferns add texture and color.
A pool was a must-have for Mike and Lisa Boudreaux. Upon moving in, they put in this cocktail pool with the help of Angelo’s Landscape Group and Lucas Firmin Pools. Rather than take on the painstaking task of maintaining the pool deck’s geometric stone-and-grass design, the couple chose to incorporate realistic-looking artificial turf.
For years, Kate and Jim Lee would drive down Eliza Beaumont Lane and dream about one day calling the neighborhood home. “I would tell him, I am going to live on this street one day,” Kate recalls. “Now, it’s been 20 years since we built.”
The couple’s courtyard door is always open to visitors, as they are even known to share an afternoon cocktail with the UPS delivery driver.
Greeting guests upon entry into Katie and Jim’s courtyard is a 19-year-old fern that towers above the home’s gate. “It just grew and grew,” Kate says. “But I love the wild look. It’s so free.”
The pair do the gardening together, with Jim taking ownership of the hanging baskets filled with bougainvillea, scaevola, verbena and bat-faced cuphea, as well as the potted crown of thorns, which Jim says has many relatives throughout the neighborhood, as the plant is known for its easy propagation.
“You just cut off a piece and share it,” he says. “It’s that simple.”