City, Country Gardens Featured on Museum’s Garden Walk

The Rochester garden of Larry and Marian Kreul shows just how much you can do on a postage-stamp-sized urban lot.

In the 15 years the Kreuls have lived in downtown Rochester, they have converted a steep, narrow lot into a lovingly landscaped oasis with nary a leaf out of place. It includes waterfalls, a fish pond and a mix of sun and shade they have put to maximum use. Their garden is one of six that will be featured in the Rochester Hills Museum’s annual garden walk June 16.

Soon after the Kreuls purchased their home, which is built into a hill, they added a deck with stairs down to a patio. At first, they tried putting a lawn in the back.

“It was just straight down and we couldn’t really do anything with it,” Larry said. “I like the ponds so I started with a small pond.” Then he added a second one, but “It still wasn’t big enough. It’s like a boat. You start with one and it’s never big enough.” Eventually he called in Earth Art of Clarkston.

The result is water meandering down into a pond surrounded by ivy, hydrangea and impatiens. Aquatic plants pop up here and there in the water, and the yard is bordered by trees that shade it much of the day and give it a secluded feel. There’s enough sun to keep the flowering plants happy, and enough greenery to keep Marian happy.

“Marian is the expert on picking out the flowers,” Larry said. “I’m the manual labor guy.”

The sound of falling water gives the yard a serene quality, and passing blue herons have found it attractive. “I had one guy that came in and cleaned me out in one day,” Larry said. After doing some research, he installed a low fence made of fishing line to prevent the herons from wading in. It’s unobtrusive, and it’s done the trick.

Marion has accented the deck and stairs with colorful flowers and the garden with art, including many that feature cats.

‘I’m an animal lover so there are as many animals as I can get and angels,” she said. “I’d have more but I don’t know where we’d put them.”

The front and side yards of the 50-foot-wide lot are also thoughtfully landscaped, including low junipers trailing over the terraced hillside, miniature roses and a new arch installed this year.

Lee Peters, who is in her 12th year of chairing the garden walk, said this year’s tour will include gardens from city to country, from  English cottage to formal, “and then everything in between.” Spread through Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township, each is owned by a hands-on gardener, she said. 

“If you’re a plant lover, you’re going to love it,” she promised.


This is the third year that the garden walk will feature a preview party on the night before the walk. The June 15 preview party will be held in a rambling city garden in Rochester that includes 1,200 different varieties of plants. The evening will feature a guided tour of the property, culinary demonstrations by local chefs, food, floral demonstrations, music and plein-aire painters. Tickets are $45 per couple or $25 per person and include a ticket for the next day’s walk. There is a limit of 300 tickets for the preview event. Last year it sold out.

On walk day, guests can tour the six gardens as well as the museum. There will be an open-air market at the museum where refreshments will be served and plein-aire artists will once again be painting.  Some of the gardens will feature live music. 

The walk, which is a fundraiser for the museum, is cosponsored by the Rochester Branch of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association, whose members will serve as docents at each garden. The events take place rain or shine. Advance tickets for the walk are $10 ($8 for museum members) and are available at the museum, 1005 Van Hoosen Rd., on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. or anytime by calling (248) 656-4663. Tickets are $12 the day of the walk.

By Annette Kingsbury

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