Brightside Demonstration Garden at Vandeventer and Kingshighway


Brightside demonstration garden

at the intersection of Southwest Avenue, Shenandoah Avenue, Kingshighway and Vandeventer in the

Southwest Garden Neighborhood

is nearing completion and looking quite inviting and eye-catching:

Built in 2011, the Brightside St. Louis Demonstration Garden features microcosms of Missouri’s wetland, glade, prairie and woodland habitats. The garden is designed to help educate visitors on best planting and environmentally sustainable practices – ones that can be implemented in yard and neighborhood gardens.
Butterfly on milkweed at the Brightside St. Louis demonstration garden
Our goal with the demonstration garden, growing at the corner of
Kingshighway and Shenandoah, is to help build environmental awareness and cultivate environmental stewardship through educational workshops and interpretative signage. 
The Brightside Demonstration Garden includes a rain garden, a sedge meadow, a butterfly garden and lots and lots of Missouri native plants. Our garden is complete with stone pavers, porous concrete/asphalt, rain barrels and, coming soon, a cistern to enhance water quality by allowing water to permeate into the ground to recharge groundwater to restore urban streams, limit sediment runoff and naturally filter out pollutants.
Major funding to establish the garden was provided through an EPA grant Region 7 through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Come visit the Brightside St. Louis Demonstration Garden for yourself. The garden is open at all times. For group presentations, please contact us at the Brightside St. Louis office to make arrangements. And while you’re on-site, be sure to pick up native plant information courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Grow Native (source).


 may be better known to many as 'Operation Brightside' its former moniker:

Brightside St. Louis, originally named Operation Brightside, was founded in 1982 by Mayor Schoemehl and campaign chairman G. Duncan Bauman, the then publisher of the St. Louis Globe Democrat. It was the response to a 1981 survey that was conducted in which St. Louis residents felt the number one problem facing the city was the fact that it was dirty.

Brightside and two other operations, the Lupus Foundation of America Heartland Chapter and Pro-Motion Physical Therapy occupy the handsome storefronts at 4640-4646 Shenandoah Avenue, just east of Kingshighway and Vandeventer.

Brightside offices along Shenandoah Avenue

Some of the interesting elements of this building are the porous paver stone sidewalks and the street trees planted between the building and the easement along Shenandoah.  The easement is planted with low growing perennials to suck up rain runoff.  It will be fun to watch these trees grow to see if this is a good model.

unconventionally placed street trees and easement plantings 

There is some public art sculpture/bike racks made of bike forks to emulate black-eyed susan and purple cone flowers right in front of the building where you can park your bike under the awnings should it rain:

The building's most familiar site from Kingshighway:

Some of the more interesting and progressive construction tactics and landscaping include porous concrete, paver stone areas, porous chat internal walkways, a no-mow zone around the building and rain barrels to decrease run off and use the rain water for the plants.  The choice of plants is top notch including natives to attract nesting birds and migrating butterflies.  These include Tussock Sedge, native grasses, American Beautyberry, New England Aster, Purple Prairie Clover, Woodland Spiderwort, Virginia Sweetspire, etc.

rain barrels on the back of the building to collect rainwater from downspouts

porous concrete was poured to decrease runoff on the south side slope

There are some iconic man-made elements to this space including the grand entryway on the sidewalk of Shenandoah Avenue that places a Monarch butterfly larvae creeping up the side of the gate transitioning into an adult butterfly floating toward the sky with large shade-providing purple coneflowers in the background.  This place will look great when the perennials are in bloom and attracting animals from insects to mammals.  I can imagine checking out a book at the Kingshighway Library branch across the street and sitting in the garden to enjoy the comfy confines of this space.

Here's a look inside the demonstration garden which is still a place of beauty due to the natural plantings and landscape on a blustery December afternoon:

chat walkway running parallel with Kingshighway

northern edge along Shenandoah Avenue

elevated plank walkway leading from the parking lot to the center of the garden

the eastern-facing view of the chat walkway from the Kingshighway side

the western-facing edge with tall grasses and stone elements

the photographer's assistant in yellow, fetching the wide angle lens

center of the garden provides a venue for education or other programming with  stone seating around the perimeter

Many foundations, personal and corporate donations assisted in the realization of this project, including gifts from the Cornelson Family Foundation, William A. Kerr Foundation, Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis, Edward K. Love Conservation Foundation, Dana Brown Charitable Trust, Alberici Construction, City of St. Louis, Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources, and many others:

paver stones commemorating the donations of local business, foundations and personal donors

A city should attract the eye and bring interest from its busiest corridors.  It should enhance the environment and complement the walk along its sidewalks and transit stops and libraries.  It should provide a place to relax and view flora and fauna in an urban setting.  This demonstration garden achieves that.