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DiMaggios call their garden, ‘God’s painted palette’

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DiMaggios call their garden, ‘God’s painted palette’

Mary DiMaggio shows off one of her prized Japanese maples scattered all over her garden at Del Webb in Manteca. Some of the trees were brought here from their old home in San Jose.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin/


POSTED May 2, 2010 3:34 a.m.
As an artist, Mary DiMaggio’s porcelain and canvas creations are inspired by nature.

But she does not have to drive miles away to get close to her inspiration. All she has to do is step outside her door and she’s there in her nature-inspired garden that she and her husband Horace designed and planted.

Their garden is one of six that will be featured in the May 8 “Gardens for Generations” Garden Tour sponsored by the Manteca Garden Club.

“I wanted it to look very natural. I call it ‘God’s painted palette.’ And these are God’s colors,” Mary said of the vibrant hues coming from an array of blooming perennials and annuals, as well as from a slew of Japanese maples whose variegated leaves dominate the foliage found all throughout the fountain-filled garden.

“I’m an artist; I need inspiration. Whenever I feel down, I come to my garden. It kind of inspires me,” said Mary who is primarily a porcelain painter. She also teaches porcelain painting.

To enhance the natural ambiance of the narrow garden which meanders practically all around the house, they strategically placed “specially picked” lichen- and moss-covered rocks from a quarry in the foothills with the help of Keith Brathovd of Silver Tree Landscaping.

In designing the garden layout, the DiMaggios did not rely on sophisticated software programs. They did it the old-fashioned way.

“We just used our feet and they (Brathovd and his crew) worked with us and did everything we asked them to do,” Mary said.

“And more,” her husband quickly added.

The garden is barely two years old, the same length of time they’ve been living in Manteca’s Del Webb community on North Union Road. Yet surprisingly, the garden looks well established, thanks mainly to the many plants that they brought to Manteca from their old home in San Jose.

“We are collectors of Japanese maples,” Mary said proudly, pointing to the many varieties and colors dominating every corner of the garden. She and her husband were particularly proud of one mature maple that was planted from seed 15 years ago, and another variety that they say is like no other. Another unusual Japanese maple in their back yard looks like an albino variety with its spotted ecru-colored leaves.

“I brought these from San Jose. I raised them myself. They were all in pots when I bought them from San Jose,” Mary said of one row of Japanese maples in the south side of the house that includes what she described as a Butterfly Japanese maple and a Sango-kaku variety.

Husband and wife share gardening duties, though Mary does most of the puttering.

“My husband is very good in helping me maintain the pots (container plants). We kind of do it as a team work. He waters the plants,” Mary said.

“If I have to,” quipped Horace who was a project manager for an aerospace company in San Jose for many years.

One of the outstanding qualities of the DiMaggios’ garden is the creative way they have utilized the narrow back and side yards of their home which includes several water features including a waterfall in a corner.

“The yard is not large. This is what you can do with a small yard,” Mary said.

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