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Traditional garden harkens back to olden days

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Traditional garden harkens back to olden days

Betty Boop rose bushes by the front porch flanking a bird condo greet visitors to this garden in a rural part of northeast Manteca, one of six featured in the Manteca Garden Tour.


POSTED May 5, 2012 1:40 a.m.

A nearly life-sized giraffe does double duty as sentinel and visual accent next to the lush landscaping on the side of the free-form swimming pool.

Behind it at the north end of the pool, beneath a towering deciduous tree, is a tortoise with its mouth open, laughing with glee.

At the south end of the pool standing next to a showy clump of white pampas grass is an ornate gazebo that, at first blush, appears to be a wooden art work. However, on closer look, the spacious hexagon structure with oval openings framed by woven-like slats is actually made entirely of metal.

At the front porch next to a luxuriant jade in an earthen pot is an antique trotting horse carousel.

The above are just a few of the attractions that pull together the traditional garden theme that avid gardener Diane Nelson wants to portray in her private Eden. It’s private not just in the sense that it is not for public visual consumption. The fact it is a hidden gem behind the small almond orchard that serves as a buffer between the cul-de-sac and the house makes Nelson’s personal paradise literally a private getaway.

The above statuaries don’t just serve as garden accents to enhance the visual experience provided by the flowers and foliage all around. Each has its own interesting story as well.

The carousel horse, for instance, came from Nelson’s mother who, besides being a medical doctor, also enjoyed many of the finer things in life. Her mother graduated from the University of California at Davis, at a time when women doctors were still the exception and not the norm. She actually worked first as a scientist and a chemist and then later decided to get her medical degree, also at UC Davis, “and she enjoyed that,” Nelson said.

The family’s home in Bay Point – in what is now Port Chicago – where they had a ranch also had a beautiful garden which received a lot of TLC from her mother. Her father, who also graduated from Davis where he met his future wife, was a rancher and the family lived in a ranch. Her mother commuted to San Francisco where she worked as an EENT doctor. This was back in the 1940s and 1950s, Nelson said.

The story behind the gazebo involves her older brother, George Gerber, of Manteca. This was the setting for his garden wedding about two years ago. Because it was custom-made, the gazebo had to be installed on site. It originally housed a spa, but now it’s mainly used as a seating area where one can admire a 180-degree view of the gardens.

As for the inanimate animals in the garden, Nelson simply explains with a little chuckle, “I like any animal as long as it’s not alive. I’m just too lazy to pick up after them.”

The giraffe and the tortoise were found at a business in Oakdale that specializes in large garden statuaries.

“We were just driving by Oakdale, my brother and Il, when we saw the giraffe and a dinosaur. I got the giraffe and he got the dinosaur,” Nelson said, still chuckling. The tortoise also came from the same place.

Nelson’s garden will be one of the six best gardens in Manteca that will be featured in this year’s garden tour fund-raiser sponsored annually by the Manteca Garden Club. This is the club’s only major fund-raising event during the year, with all proceeds going to the non-profit group’s many civic and beautification projects, not to mention the scholarships they give away to deserving high school seniors.

For those who are still looking for a meaningful Mother’s Day gift that will leave long-lasting memories, this would make a perfect present for the special grandmother, mother, aunt or sister who either loves gardening or appreciates beautiful gardens. Cost for tickets this year has not gone up. It’s still $15 per person which covers not only the privilege of visiting the six gardens but also includes a number of perks such as refreshments at the last house, which happens to be the Nelson garden, plus several chances of going home with one or more of the many prizes that will be given away during the opportunity drawing.

Where to buy tickets to the garden tour:

• Delicato Vineyards, 12001 S. Hwy 99, about a mile north of East Lathrop Road

• Ed’s Rockery, 6000 E. Lathrop Road just east of Highway 99.

• German Glas Werks, 109 E. Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.

• Manteca Visitors Center, Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley near the fountain at the roundabout.

• New Buds Nursery, 23563 S. Manteca Road just north of West Ripon Road.

• P&L Concrete Products, 1900 Roosevelt Ave in Escalon.

• Park Greenhouse and Nursery, 12813 E. West Ripon Road just outside of the city limit.

•Silverado Nursery, 460 South Stockton Avenue in Ripon just south of Main Street.

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