By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ellen Paradisos 4-season garden is a quiet and peaceful hide-away
The original owners of this house dug a hole in the back yard to use as drainage. Ellen Paradiso turned the hole into a garden water feature with colorful koi. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Ellen Paradiso’s blueberries were bought during a clearance sale at Park Greenhouse nursery in Ripon.

“They were straggly looking,” she said.

That was two years ago. Today, the blueberries planted in three half-barrel containers, are laden with fruit that are about to ripen. But the two in the ground planted against the fence in her side yard still look a bit straggly. Not because of neglect or any other reason. Her beloved Papillon is to blame for that. Her pet canine happens to love the nutritious fruit, as it turns out. That’s the real reason she has the three thriving plants in the large containers.

While there are some avid gardeners who might disagree with her, “they’re so easy to grow,” she said about her blueberries.

They are at their visual best in the spring, she added, when “it’s covered with beautiful white flowers.” The perennial’s beauty doesn’t end there. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow and red, said Paradiso, a Manteca real estate broker who describes herself as an avid gardener.

Yes, she has someone who comes in on a regular basis to do the usual “mow and blow” garden chore, but overall, she is the green thumb behind her four-season garden that nearly wraps itself around her corner home in the Brookvale residential subdivision.

“This is my sanity,” she said of her private Garden of Eden which evokes Old World elements and ambience through careful selection and placement of trees, perennials, annuals and groundcovers. A Virginia creeper covers most of one fence, its glossy and lush foliage turning red in the fall. Paradiso is partial to Japanese maples – she has more than a dozen of them out in the front yard and in the back and side yards. She also has a few orange trees which she loves because “they don’t lose their leaves” in the winter.

After working all day long in the proverbial rat race, “you need that quiet and peaceful place,” and that’s what her garden is all about, she said.

Evidence of her green thumb is how she has transformed the toni property, which originally did not have a garden to speak of. One part of the yard was occupied by a horse trailer.

“When I bought the house, there was nothing here,” said Paradiso who, as a gardener, loves “old recycled stuff” to incorporate with her landscape. A rusty old bicycle, for example, which is now home to a number of container plants, was a gift from a friend. The concrete benches under her orange tree came from a friend who gave them up when she was moving away. One of the benches is broken nearly in two, but she was able to save one section of it which is still usable.

Seating areas are sprinkled all over the gardens. The main back yard actually has three of them, all arranged around a pond where large and colorful koi cavort in the sun-kissed clear water fed by a re-circulating waterfall. One of the patio seating arrangements features a multi-purpose fire pit. When not in use as a camp fire, it can serve as an ice chest, or, it can be a portable table, Paradiso pointed out.

The previous owners of the home, which she purchased about a dozen years ago, dug a hole in the back yard and used it as a drainer, she explained. That hole is now the pond. The unfamiliar mature tree behind it is one of Mother Nature’s gifts to Paradiso. It just grew there, she said. Ditto the crepe myrtle in one corner of the back yard. Next to the pond is a profusely blooming rose bush. It was a gift from her daughter two years ago.

A section of her garden appears like a rock walkway reminiscent of a Japanese garden. She laughed as she explained that this was her way of hiding the invasive roots of white birch trees that were so large she could not completely get rid of them.

“I couldn’t remove the roots so I covered it with a rock dry bed,” a smiling Paradiso simply stated.

Contact Rose Albano Risso at or at (209) 249-3536.