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Gayle & Jeff Pace: Del Webb’s frugal gardeners

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Gayle & Jeff Pace: Del Webb’s frugal gardeners

Gayle Pace is shown in one corner of her back yard garden surrounded by blooming roses, geraniums, mandevillas, and various tree varieties including Japanese maples.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED May 10, 2013 1:47 a.m.

Gayle Pace chuckles when she says, “I’m the flower floozy who works on a budget.”

Still bubbling with laughter, she reaches down to deadhead a carpet rose blooming in profusion in one of several raised flower beds in her back yard.

She and husband Jeff could be described as the frugal gardeners. They can afford to be frugal because of their creativity. A number of highlights in their three-year-old private paradise at Del Webb attest to that.

When they decided to build a free-standing patio in an area wide enough to store an RV, a lot of soil was removed to install the piers and concrete slab surface. Instead of getting rid of all the dirt that was dug out, the Paces used that – with some compost and peat  moss mixed in – to create the flower beds that are now full of flowering perennials and annuals.

Like many environmentally conscious citizens, the Paces do their own composting at home. But a lot of the compost they use in their garden also came from their cabin in Pioneer in the foothills where they also religiously practice composting. That has spawned yet another benefit to their garden in Manteca. After applying the compost they brought down from their cabin to their flower beds at Del Webb, they were surprised to see flowering varieties that they have not planted at all such as fox gloves and other perennials and annuals. They could have come from bird droppings, but Gayle is convinced they came from their cabin composts.

Drawing attention to the half-dozen tree varieties that are now tall enough to cast generous shades in the gardens around the house, Gayle proudly points out that these were purchased – maybe salvaged could be a better word – “from a throw-away pile” at the Silverado Nursery in Ripon for practically a song.

All the roses that are now in full bloom were moved to their Del Webb home from their old house in Castro Valley. They bought it as an 80-year-old house which they remodeled. They lived there for 35 years before they pulled up stakes and came to live in the Family City.

They did the same thing to the spacious corner property that they purchased at Del Webb.

“We loved the house because of the (side) yard entry. It was a resale house,” and did not have a garden to speak of, Gayle says.

“We completely redesigned (the landscaping),” she says.

The hardscape re-design included moving the side gate to the west of the house farther to the front for better access to the utilities. But it also created more space for the side garden where a vertical waterfall now stands surrounded by lush plants. It is this side garden that will greet guests to the Manteca Garden Tour on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Pace home is one of six featured this year, and one of three located in the Del Webb community on North Union Road.

One of the highlights of the backyard garden is a cozy and airy patio with a cathedral ceiling which the Paces call “our indoor/outdoor room.”

“We literally stay out here till it’s bedtime. We eat our dinner here,” says Gayle with her easy smile.

The patio was built in such a way that it affords a generous view of the back yard and part of the side yard garden.

During the windy days of April, the west side of the patio which was open blew a thick layer of dust into their favorite outdoor resting area. To solve that problem, Jeff Pace built a wall topped by a glass window. To the base of the window, he installed a 60-year-old redwood burl mantel which was given to Gayle by a friend in Pleasanton who owned the house where the mantel came from.

“I’ve had it for 20 years and it just sat in the garage,” Gayle says of the redwood mantel.

The Paces, who are the parents of two daughters living in Manteca – Julie Albers and Janet Balmut – and the grandparents of Miss Manteca 2012 Myklyn Balmut who is now studying at University of Southern California – share gardening chores.

“I do the fuss-fuss. My husband does all the manual labor and the lawns,” Gayle smiles as she describes how the gardening tasks are divided between them.

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