Gardening fans praised the tranquil beauty of Becky Anderson’s yard on Sunday as they slowly moved through the shady oasis near 56th and Leavenworth Streets during the Munroe-Meyer Garden Walk.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Amy Nordness of Omaha. “I love all the different seating areas. You can see how nice it would be to sit out here for some respite after a day at work.”
The home of Anderson and her husband, William Minier, was one of five featured yards during the 50th garden walk to benefit the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute. The institute works to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities and special health care needs and their families.
Other gardens on the tour were the Parker Garden at 9725 Fieldcrest Drive; the Gebhard Garden at 7836 Howard St.; the Chihuly Sanctuary and Leslie’s Healing Garden at 505 S. 45th St.; and the Richards Garden at 2309 Country Club Ave. All of the gardens had previously been featured on the tour that averages about 1,000 visitors annually, a spokeswoman said.
When Anderson and Minier moved into their home in 1986, they decided to replace a more traditional garden scheme with plants that grew well in the shade. They enlisted landscape architect Calvin Mast to create a space that would be “welcoming, varied, manageable without professional help and conducive to play and exploration,” according to the garden walk program.
“I like the all-mushed-together, wild look that we have,” Anderson said. “I try anything that works well in the shade and with the walnut trees.”
Cathy Beccard, a master gardener, was pleasantly surprised to find several Jack-in-the-pulpit plants, including one nestled near the front door. The plant gets its name from the showy hood (the pulpit) hovering over a tongue-like column (the jack, or preacher) in spring. Late summer is when the bright red berries add color to the woodland garden.
“I had never seen one before,” Beccard said. “And what amazes me about this yard is that we’re standing only a few feet from Leavenworth Street, but you can’t hear the traffic, but you do hear the birds singing.”
Yew trees and serviceberry bushes in front of the home do a great job of blocking out the traffic noises. Heading around the east side of the home, visitors begin to notice a variety of shade-friendly plants, including hosta, Japanese lilac, Japanese iris, ghost fern and Solomon’s seal.
Anderson and Minier added a solarium to the house, which was built in 1924, and a screened sitting area in the southeast corner of the yard. The many sitting areas are perfect for “having my morning coffee and reading the newspaper,” Anderson said.
The centerpiece of the backyard is a small pond, with water trickling over stones, that holds frogs and fish similar to goldfish called Shubunkins. The pond was intended to capture the imaginations of the couple’s children, Anderson said.
“We wanted little spaces for people to carve out their own little environments,” she said. “This yard was totally flat when we moved in. It took about a decade to transform it.”