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Yard includes 300 tons of granite
Bonnie Barber’s husband, Ron, readily admits that his better half is the “master gardener” in the family. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO


• WHAT: Manteca Garden Club’s annual garden tour
• WHEN: Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• TICKETS: $15 each available at German Glas Werks, New Buds Nursery, Convention and Visitors Bureau at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, Morris Nursery in Riverbank, and P&L Cement in Escalon.
• MORE INFO: Call (209) 823-2209, (209) 823-6300) or (209) 824-2062.

When friends call Bonnie and Ron Barber and get no answer, chances are they couple is in Jamaica or Maui, their favorite R&R destinations.

The Barbers are not really literally miles away from their northwest Manteca countryside home but are simply lounging in their back yard and enjoying their own handiwork.

“This is our private paradise,” a smiling Ron Barber said of the eyeful garden spread - more like an exotic resort - that he and wife Bonnie built with their own sweat.

His description of their private Eden is no braggadocio on his part. Actually, it’s an understatement.

Snaking towering palm trees, 300 tons of granite and rocks from quarries in the foothills, rock statuaries and a host of other exotic plants and features all conspire to create the tropical island resort that was the Barbers’ goal when they started working on the landscaping about a decade ago when they purchased the property from a former Manteca real estate agent.

After they purchased the approximately four-acre spread that included a small almond orchard, the Barbers removed some of the almond trees in the back and replaced them wiht palm trees and other plant varieties. They also expanded and remodeled the house which they then surrounded with a landscaping that would evoke the ambience of their favorite vacation spots: Jamaica, where they were married, and the island of Maui in Hawaii, their favorite island destination.

The entire Barber family made up the crew that worked on the creation of this back-yard paradise which is one of the six gardens featured in the Saturday, May 8, Gardens for Generations garden tour sponsored by the Manteca Garden Club. Contractor Ron, Sr., with a little help from his two young sons, did the hardscape with additional help from hired hands.

The master gardener in the family, by unanimous assent of the entire family, is Bonnie.

The main featured in the back yard is the massive rocky formation for the water slide and waterfalls that all drop to the free-form pool below. The water slide can be accessed by way of wooden stairs on either side of the double water features. From the top, one can have a panoramic view of the backyard gardens and the huge swimming pool below surrounded by low Grecian columns and plant containers.

Behind the waterfall is a small cave area where one can admire a dinosaur creation that Ron placed in the ceiling beneath the upper falls.

Other garden highlights include a subterranean garden and other macro-climate spots areound the spacious back yard. Giant granite rocks that dot the gardens, several seating areas inculde one made of stone, and exotic statuaries round out the attractions.

The public can take a peek into the Barbers’ private paradise by purchasing a ticket to the garden tour. Cost is $5 a piece with all proceeds going into the club’s many beautification projects in the community as well as scholarships. The garden tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at German Glas Werks in downtown Manteca, New Buds Nursery on South Manteca Road, Park Greenhouse on West Ripon Road in Ripon, the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau office at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley near the water feature, Morris Nursery in Riverbank/Modesto, and P & L Concrete in Escalon.

For further details about the tour or tickets, call tour coordinators Gayle Foster (823-2209) Joan Collins (823-6300) or club president Sandi Larson at 824-2062.