Walking up the steps to Scott Endres’ front door feels like a trip to Tangletown Gardens, the popular garden center he co-owns in south Minneapolis. That’s because Endres brings the best part of his job home with him.

Gigantic-leaved banana plants and elephant ears shoot out of containers spilling over with colorful coleus and ‘Red Riding Hood’ mandevilla. His vibrant boulevard and terrace gardens blend bold tropical beauties with plume-shaped celosia.

And Endres’ fanciful 1880s Victorian, with its newly built front porch, completes this lush, otherworldly setting in the heart of its urban St. Paul neighborhood. “It’s the kind of porch this house deserves,” said Endres. “It feels right for the house and for me.”

A ‘worker’ Victorian

Endres bought the house, his first home purchase, in 1995 when he was working at nearby Highland Nursery. “I’ve always loved Victorians and their character and personality,” said Endres, who grew up in a farmhouse in Hampton Township. The 1880s “worker” Victorian was 1,800 square feet and not as big and extravagant as the homes on Summit Avenue, but “it was an affordable fixer-upper and the right size for me,” he said.

Endres discovered that his house was one of the $1 homes rehabbed in the late 1970s. “An architect bought it for his family and did a good job putting it back together,” he said. But by the mid-1990s, the house hadn’t been updated in years, and the yard was pocked with scrubby trees, as well as a dog run.

Endres zealously tackled the home from the inside — including remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen — and the outside, as he gradually transformed the front and back yards into a garden oasis. First he put in trees and major elements like walkways, a patio and a pond, followed by shrubs, perennials and annuals.

And over time, Endres deposited money into a porch fund so that he could someday replace the deteriorating 1970s deck-like structure with a welcoming front porch that would complement the architectural quality and the period of the home.

“I wanted to embellish the lady,” said Endres. “But still show her blue-collar roots.”

He enlisted designers David Heide and Brad Belka, of David Heide Design Studio, to fashion a new porch that would take cues from original parts of the house. Housecraft Remodeling was the contractor.

“Scott’s Victorian is a wonderful representation of an exuberantly detailed yet modest-sized house,” said Heide. His team’s mission was to incorporate those details — such as decorative corbels, dentil molding and age-old brackets — that capture the spirit of the late 19th-century style.

“We reinterpreted original design motifs but did it in a cost-effective way,” said Heide. They were able to buy ready-made reproduction pieces such as brackets and columns. But wood valances and other elements had to be custom-made. The valance and skirtboard are adorned with whimsical, Victorian-inspired accents: circular and diamond-shaped cutouts, which were “fun to make up,” said Heide.

Heide rebuilt the porch more low to the ground and without a railing at the request of Endres, who didn’t want to block the visual flow to the carefully cultivated landscape. “The porch serves as a bridge between the house and garden,” said Endres.

Heide also added another staircase on one side to make it easy to step down to gaze at the side plantings. “It’s very close to what would have been there the day the first family moved into their new home,” he said.

Endres set his grandmother’s wicker chairs in a place of honor on his new porch. He’s also created complementary garden beds that unfold in colorful, multitiered layers below. “I love to see the nuances in the garden,” he said, “and the mosaic of plants with the light shining through.”