Terry Cook - A Perennial Gardener For Good

A Master Gardener Volunteer Profile
Terry Cook

“I am not good at saying ‘no’,” says Terry Cook, a perennial gardening volunteer. “I love to help people, and I love to educate people about plants and gardens.” It’s a good thing, because Terry can’t refuse a gardening plea. Six garden-related organizations in N.H. and Florida are recipients of his good-heartedness. 

Terry volunteers in the Victory and Shapiro Gardens at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, “and wherever else I can help,” he says. At Greenland’s Great Bay Discovery Center, Terry grows two plots of vegetables in the parking lot. The project there is “a great educational resource.” A new endeavor he’s excited about is helping with planting at Portsmouth’s Prescott Park.

This Texas farm boy, now 60 and retired, was a residential realtor in the Dallas area. Ten years ago, he and husband, Stephen Yevich bought a 1755 “summer place” in Newfields. The home became permanent after deciding they loved N.H. for its natural wonders. Terry always wanted to be a Master Gardener, and in 2013 decided to take the course, commuting back and forth from Dallas to N.H. for classes. Terry is a NH Master Gardener Alumni Association board member, past president and has led the efforts to gain corporate sponsors for the Spring Symposium. Stephen volunteers with the UNH Marine Docent program.

A Newfields Garden Club member, Terry says, “I am their project guy. If they need something done and I say yes, then get out of my way.”  This spring, Terry grew 35 varieties of tomatoes for the club’s online sale. “It was a huge success.”  The club was granted access to a two-acre private Newfields garden and from the garden plants collected there, club members created a woodland garden in town.  Terry’s “new and very rewarding” venture is helping a handicapped man garden in two plots at the Newfields Community Garden.

The couple’s one-acre home has a “large vegetable garden, numerous perennial beds, with a dash of annuals thrown in.”  Steve takes care of the raspberry and blueberry patch, but Terry is the jam maker. 

Terry’s favorite flower is the peony. “I have never found one that didn't want to jump in my car,” he says, of the 56 herbaceous peonies, one dozen tree peonies, and four inter-sectional peonies he grows. Terry counts himself fortunate to have “a garden team that helps me keep things in line and weeded every week…so he can dig and weed elsewhere.”   

The couple has a winter home in Coral Gables and Terry is involved with a historic preservation group, The Villagers. He co-chaired the non-profit’s spring garden tour the last two years, and will again in 2021. This year’s tour raised $26,000. He also volunteers at Barnacle Historic State Park at the 1891 Coconut Grove house. He built and managed two raised beds of period vegetables there. “I am fortunate I can garden 12 months a year,” he says, about gardening in each state.

Terry feels lucky “to have had an amazing life for a farm boy.  I never dreamed of the places I have seen, the many opportunities I have experienced, or the variety of friends I have made along the way,” he says.  “I am so fortunate too to have found a life partner 33 years ago, who has similar goals, values, and interests.”

UNH Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers share information about home, yard, and garden topics with the people of New Hampshire. Got questions? Master Gardeners provide practical help finding answers to your questions through the Ask UNH Extension Infoline. Call toll free at 1-877-398-4769, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or e-mail us at answers@unh.edu.