You've got to see this spectacular, not-so-secret St. Anne's garden

Tobin Denney did not have much to work with when he bought the land that now holds his outdoor oasis.

“I had a big blank canvas,” said Denney, an engineer at Wright Patterson Air Force Base since moving to Dayton in 1983. “There wasn’t a tree and there wasn’t a stone.”

adddddPhoto / Amelia Robinson

Denney began working on his 1881 brick Fourth Street home near the Henry Street in 1988. He bought the two lots next to his house for $700 each at a sheriff’s sale.

He worked his way outside using items with architectural appeal and advice from a neighbor, an avid gardener.  

“She said, ‘you have to create room in your yard’,” Denney said.

He and his partner of 10 years have surely done that.

Denney’s impressive garden has been the toast of several St. Anne’s Hill Historic District garden tours, as has the garden behind the home he owns next door. That house has its very own grapevine.  

Denney put on his engineer’s hat when he designed the English-style garden that makes up his side yard.

The backyard features a koi pond, relaxing benches, an outdoor fireplace, archways, pillars from the original United Theological Seminary and upcycled items like a neighbor's old stove, a sink and a mailbox.  

It is really something that must be seen to appreciate.

Denney loves his neighborhood and city. 

“I really kind of fell in love with Dayton,” he said. “It is a place you can make a difference."

adddddPhoto / Amelia Robinson

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