PORTLAND — It’s hard to believe the garden at 59 Lafayette St. was a mud pit one year ago.

The property was one of the most talked about stops in a tour of the Hidden Gardens of Munjoy Hill on Sunday. More than 400 people turned out for the annual event, a self-guided tour of 11 gardens and the Fort Allen Trail near East End Beach.

The owners of the property on Lafayette Street tore down its old one-story home and built a modern black structure. In the process of building their home, the garden was destroyed.

Norma Kraus-Eule and her partner, Dahlia Mann, hired Masahiko Seko, a landscape architect, to create their peaceful outdoor escape. Seko retained some of the previous plantings such as spirea and rose of Sharon. He added a Kusa dogwood, a Japanese maple, irises, poppies and other plantings. He built a two-toned bamboo fence in traditional Japanese style and designed a bamboo fountain. Hanging fabrics give the owners a hint of privacy. Kraus-Eule said she uses the space to do yoga.

“I always wanted a Japanese garden,” she said. “I love the waterfall. I love the ferns the grasses. I think he really did achieve a peaceful design.”

The second stop on the tour was 10 Munjoy St., where Tuck Noble has lived for one month. The garden featured a water fountain, along with wave petunias, Shasta daisies, lilies and a potpourri of other annuals and perennials. Noble took no credit for the creation. The space was designed by its previous owners, Joe Piergrossi and Trevor Coyne. Noble said it’s a great space.

“I’ll definitely keep up with it. I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I can water with the best of them.”

Sue Gorkey of Portland pointed to some plants inside a white pitcher on Noble’s steps.

“I have no idea what they are, but they look great,” Gorkey said. “It’s a bit of country in the city. These yards are so small, but they make the most of the space.”

The annual fundraising tour was hosted by Friends of the Eastern Promenade. John Wuesthoff, the group’s secretary, took a break Sunday afternoon to indulge in a lobster roll and crepes with blueberries, raspberries, chocolate and whipped cream. The free lunch was offered at a tour of the gardens at 129 and 133 Morning St.

“It’s a wonderful tour,” Wuesthoff said. “You have new people coming into the area converting waste space into garden space. It’s exciting.”

As of 1 p.m., more than 300 people had turned out to view the gardens at 129 and 133 Morning St. The owners of the five-building Promenade by the Bay property threw a party for participants on the tour.

There, the brick walkways lead through meticulous lawns and gardens. Tenants of the property can harvest produce from the herb and vegetable garden.

“I think it’s wonderful what people have done with their small gardens here,” said Reen Gavin of Portland, who sat with her three friends in the Morning Street gardens.

“I have a smatter of ignorance when it comes to flowers and plants,” said her friend Linda McLoon of Portland’s North Deering neighborhood. “I’m so lucky to have these three gals with me. I’ve learned so much from them. It’s a good way to see how wonderful the Munjoy Hill neighborhood is. The homes are so charming.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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