Fairacres garden detail

The waterways of the Alhambra. Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. Mexico’s sandy beaches.

References to these places combine to create unique ambiance in a heavily shaded yard in midtown Omaha’s serene Fairacres neighborhood.

When the homeowner first moved into the property in 1998, she was faced with a pear-shaped yard with poor drainage. She turned to Francis “Simy” Simonds, a retired florist who helped her with landscape design. They worked together to create an outdoor living space that addressed issues while also complementing the home’s mid-1930s Mediterranean architecture.

“We had to level the yard and get rid of steps by the patio to make it easier to entertain,” she says. “We also tried to add a variety of visual experiences and as many points of interest into the yard as possible.”

The duo achieved this by drawing on personal interests and experiences abroad. A love of Monet’s gardens translated into a corridor of winding wisteria that makes the most of the yard’s space.

A trip to southern Spain inspired a shallow water channel that helps with drainage. Shells gathered from a vacation in Mexico and embedded in a short flight of stairs add sentimental delight.

Brickwork replaced a staid slate patio and enhanced the home’s architecture by picking up on the richness of its terra cotta roof tiles.

One thing the homeowner didn’t have to worry about was the tree canopy. There’s green. Lots and lots of green.

“The house is completely shaded in the summer,” she says. “On a hot day, it’s at least five degrees cooler. It’s heavenly here.”


Pergola dining in Fairacres, Omaha

Dining alfresco is heavenly under this pergola covered with clematis and orange and yellow honeysuckle.

Orange and yellow honeysuckle coupled with clematis vine their way up Doric columns and over a cedar pergola to form a fragrant canopy for dining. A Provençal table linen paired with vintage Fiesta ware adds a festive flair, while yellow cushions with gray piping keep the space bright and cheery. Copper pendant lighting provides a buttery glow during evening entertaining.

The perennial garden next to the patio includes vibrant black-eyed Susans, irises from a family friend, and yellow primroses from the homeowner’s mother’s garden. “I keep adding to it," chuckles the homeowner. "Some survive, some don’t.”

Alhambra-inspired water channel

This allusion to the waterways at the Alhambra in southern Spain provided a musical backdrop in the shaded backyard.

Inspired by a trip to southern Spain, the waterway runs on a pump and helps provide drainage for the sloped yard. “This is an allusion to the Garden of Life at Alhambra,” the homeowner says. “The water travels over the tiles in a musical rhythm.”

Water channel detail

The owner incorporated sentimental objects such as shell and tile fragments into her garden stairs.

The homeowner incorporated sentimental objects such as tile fragments, broken pottery and shells gathered during a trip to Mexico into her garden waterway.

Clay vessel water channel

This clay vessel disguises the pump that circulates water through the channel.

A casually yet carefully arranged upended clay vessel disguises the pump that circulates water through the channel.

Wrought iron garden gate

The ornate early 20th-century French wrought iron gate was a salvage rescue

This ornate early 20th-century French wrought iron gate was a salvage rescue that amplifies the home’s Mediterranean architecture. Francis “Simy” Simonds designed the accompanying archway. The homeowner heightened the wall to add greater privacy.

Warm garden lighting

The custom lighting adds a buttery glow to the garden in evening.

The custom lanterns echo the home’s roof line and enhances the Mediterranean architecture.

Garden reflecting pool

The reflecting pool adds an elegant visual experience to the Fairacres garden.

Garden reflecting pool

The shaded garden provides a cool haven in the hot summer months.

The raised reflecting pool adds tranquility to the garden. A dense astilbe garden creates lush ground canopy. “I wanted the sound of more water,” comments the homeowner,  “and this provides another focal point and visual experience.”

wisteria walkway

The wisteria walkway mimics the one in Claude Monet's garden in Giverny.

Inspired by the trellis in Monet’s famous garden in Giverny, this wisteria-covered walkway provides a secluded area to read or spend quiet time. “We did this to frame the yard. The idea was to create another interesting experience and an outdoor ‘room,’” the homeowner says.

“The trellis is the same shape as Monet’s. The shallow arcs gave us extra height, and I love that the vines have camouflaged it.” The paving stones were salvaged from the home’s previous patio, which glared too brightly in direct sunlight but have soft earth tones in the dappled shade.

"Bungalow" by Catherine Ferguson

The homeowner's art collection enhances her Fairacres garden.

“Bungalow,” a cast bronze sculpture by artist Catherine Ferguson, adds a meditative touch to this corner of the yard. An ornamental pear and tulip tree add extra shade to the quiet spot.

John Himmelfarb sculpture

A sculpture by John Himmelfarb adds visual interest to this Fairacres garden.

A sculpture by John Himmelfarb sits on one of the garden’s walls adds an unexpected touch of whimsy to the space.

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