A Backyard Oasis Helps Neighborly Relationships Bloom

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This neighborhood garden illustrates that a garden is a friend you can visit anytime.  

Story by Ann Butenas      |      Photos by Matt Kocourek


If you haven’t already dusted off your gardening equipment, now is the time. Spring is here and the season cordially invites you to get your bloom on! It is time to get your plans in order for your garden this year, whether that means a symphony of colorful flowers, rows of vegetables, or any kind of outdoor oasis. While the die-hard gardeners out there probably made their plans months ago, there is still time for you to create your  own slice of Heaven on Earth. It’s not too late to take advantage of the long growing season ahead, and these photos should inspire you to dig deep, plant now, and dream big as you create your own sanctuary of flowers, plants, and all things that bloom.

As the late Robin Williams once said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’” Well, if these photos are any indication of the type of celebration we can aspire to create, then we certainly have the makings of a fabulous block party on our hands!

Steve Heichel, Landscape Designer, BSLA, of Rosehill Gardens is responsible for this incredible design and layout. Heichel spearheaded this one-of-a-kind backyard garden project that involves five contiguous neighbors, all of whom agreed to work together to create one cohesive landscape.



“All five of them have small backyards with no fences, so this was the opportunity to create a large park-like setting,” noted Heichel, emphasizing the similar style between all five yards which allowed for the flow of design. “As a designer, this was a unique and exciting project to oversee. It began with one home and then as I designed the next, it allowed the ability to maintain the continuity. Plus, the neighbors saw this as an opportunity to share in the design.”

While so many visual delights capture the senses in this vast landscape, what has truly grown are the relationships between the neighbors.

“We have used this space as a way to get to know one another better, and this has been a lesson in being good neighbors,” noted one homeowner. “We all get along well and enjoy this oasis to come home to each day.  Everyone gains something through this design. My landscape is enhanced by the view of my neighbors’ landscape and vice versa.”


Left… A cedar deck with seating area provides an overlook to the lower brick patio as the sound of the fountain plays in your ears, cheerfully inviting you to leave your worries behind you. Sweeps of color are provided by the variegated leaves of Tropicana Canna, Dragonwing Red Begonia, braided tree Lantana, and red Oleander all backdropped by a sweep of Juniper to provide an enclosed oasis to complete the ensemble.  

Right… A dry stream bed of Eau Claire river rock with salt & pepper cobble meanders thru a bed of Black Eyed Susan and Bearded Iris as it sweeps past a Blue Spruce and trickles towards the white backdrop of Limelight Hydrangea.


Left… The architecture of a giant twist urn overflowing with Cherry Red Angelonia and soft lavender Ivy Geranium stands out against the towering backdrop of Green Giant Arborvitae and accented by the bright white and pink blooms of Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea.

Right… The focal point of this inviting courtyard built, with 100-year-old street pavers from St. Charles, MO, is an equally antiquated Italian palazzo style fountain, all softened by a border of green liriope and accented by Whopper Red Begonias and the deep purple leaves of Australia Canna. The courtyard is enclosed with a 12’ height green wall of Junipers to create year-round privacy and enclosure to the courtyard.


Left… A monochromatic cool color has been created in this corner of the gardens utilizing a burgundy Rubber Tree and topiary Gardenia accented by spikes of purple Angelonia along with the distinctive purple flower balls of Gomphrena, with lavender Ivy Geranium and the silver-green foliage of Evolvulus cascading down the face of the pots.

Right… Bronze cranes feast on a sweep of red and purple Carita Angelonia along the manicured lawn and brick edging, tucked under the canopy of a large Redbud tree.


Left… Corner grouping by deck steps with octagonal stone light accented by the chocolate colored leaves of Black Coral Calocasia (Elephant Ear) with Dragonwing Red Begonia and blue Scaevola all cascading into the green fern like foliage of Springerii Fern.

Right… Landscape design is about creating as oasis to draw you into the environment and evoke an emotion. This Italian style piazzo features a large central fountain, 100-year-old brick street pavers, ongoing seasonal color, and enough seating to share with family and friends.

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