September 19, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

We all have that one special relative in our lives whose powerful influence forever alters our being. Whether it’s an eclectic taste in music or a fondness for French Impressionism, that enthusiasm is contagious and makes us all unique in our proclivities.

In the case of Terry Price, whose decadent Fairacres garden was one of six featured in the 2014 Munroe-Meyer Garden Walk, that one person was her Great Aunt Ruby Hall.

“She was an old maid, as they say, school teacher in Boone, Iowa,” Price says. “We always loved her gardens.”

So when Aunt Ruby reached the ripe age of 82 back in 1987, she gifted her famous gardens, plant-by-plant, to Terry and her husband, Tom. “We were ecstatic beyond words. We took the two cars we had, a station wagon and a Honda Accord, and the two kids. There was barely enough room for us to sit in the cars to get back,” Terry says.

She describes an old photo of her Aunt Ruby. “She’s standing at the back of the station wagon. You can see it’s just loaded with plants. And she’s kind of waving. It’s cute.”

To prepare for the transfer, Aunt Ruby helped Terry and Tom compile a chart describing each plant. “We sat for the longest time one afternoon. You know, here’s a Phlox. It likes sun. They get tall. There’s pink and purple and white.”

They also received some plants from other relatives, as well. “I think the fact that there are family plants in here make it really special,” says Tom.

Nebraska’s clay-like soil posed a problem at first. So they took a tip from one of their horticulturist friends by adding playground sand on top of the garden.

 Nearly 30 years later, and thanks to the sand and decaying mulch, their soil is win good shape.

“It’s amazing,” Terry says, “how a grain of sand can work its way down through clay.”

Their garden features an intoxicating array of peonies, hostas, phlox, coral bells, sedum and daisies. Let’s not forget lady’s mantle, astilbe, hydrangeas and several ornamental trees. The list of species is endless, and those who are lucky to visit are treated to a gardener’s delight.

The Prices add their own surprising touches, like an old gate from a bank purchased at an antique store. A piece of a broken clay pot planted on its side peeks out from the soil like a Roman ruin. Their walkway features a bit of Omaha history with cobblestones and pavers from the Jobber’s Canyon historic district in the Old Market.

The Garden Walk is hosted annually by the Munroe-Meyer Guild, a group whose mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities through fundraising for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute.

The Price’s passion for gardening is simple.

“It’s just nice to be outside and dig in the dirt,” Terry says. “The old commune-with-mother-nature-thing.” 

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