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Garden: Astronomy, works of art
Garden tour

Ken and Molly Cooper are award-winning artists.
The inside of their Woodbridge at Del Webb home in Manteca is like a museum with watercolors, charcoal drawings and photographs hanging on the walls, and historic ship replicas that took hundreds of hours to make. The miniature ships have their own display room.
The couple’s combined artistic talents are manifested in the gardens outside. They even have names for the art-reproduction focal points.
The Amphitheater Terrace visible from the great room features Italian and Grecian statues reigning over such living treasures as lavender, marigold, lantana and other blooming plants.
Thriving in one corner is a climbing bower currently covered with tulip-like flowers that bees love to visit. On the opposite side of this eye-catching climber is a pergola covered with wisteria. Unfortunately, the blossoms are all spent, replaced by the plant’s refreshing green foliage.
The statues in the Coopers’ amphitheater terrace are replicas of the real art sculptures, Ken explained.
Like the other garden terraces throughout the back yard, these nooks provide seating features that do double duty as aesthetic attractions and places for restful pauses.
Next to the amphitheater is the Astrology Terrace, Ken’s pride and joy. The garden elements here hearken to his childhood hobbies and dreams.
The central focus, a huge sundial that took him hundreds of hours to make, is the realization of a childhood dream and fascination with astronomy. The two concrete spheres here were hand painted by the retired PG&E employee. One is designated as the night sky and the other represents daytime. An armillary time piece occupies another corner of the sundial. Ken describes it mainly as a conversation piece.
The Coopers’ vegetable garden visible from here is a perfect example of the creative ways homeowners can maximize the use of their yard. The garden is like a world of its own. A sweet jasmine bower serves as the entrance to the meticulously landscaped plant areas. Cherry tomatoes climbing on trellises, zucchinis, and cucumbers — just to name a few — are all in the cusp of blooming promising another fruitful harvest in summer. Just how fruitful were the zucchinis? Ken laughed as he recalled giving away much of the vegetable to many of their neighbors last year. He also let in on a secret on how to encourage the tomatoes to bear more fruit. Grow them on trellises, he said with a laugh.
In another corner of the backyard garden next to the wisteria-covered pergola is a cactus garden. This is the handiwork of Molly, a former Modesto School District employee and award-winning artist. Ken proudly showed off the miniature garden setting featuring fantasy characters.
Fruit trees and flowering plants that abound throughout the Coopers’ gardens are too numerous to mention.
Altogether, with the statues, water features, and several works of art interwoven with the lush living treasures, the Cooper gardens is one not to miss in Saturday’s Manteca Garden Tour which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Seven private gardens are featured this year. There are seven gardens on the tour.
Tour tickets are $20 each which will include a brochure containing information about each of the featured gardens, plus a map of the seven home locations.
Tickets are available at the following businesses until the day of the tour Saturday, May 12:
Rainforest Nursery — 1982 W. Yosemite Ave, Manteca.
Tipton’s Stationery & Gifts — 169 W. Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.
German Glas Werks — 109 E. Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.
Delicato Family Vineyards — 12001 Hwy 99 Frontage Road (west side of the freeway).
Sadie’s Salon — 508 E. Yosemite Avenue, Manteca.
New York Diamonds — Located in the Mission Ridge (Walmart Shopping Center) 1167 S. Main Street, Manteca.
Ed’s Rockery — 6000 E. Lathrop Road, Manteca.
Manteca Senior Center — 295 Cherry Lane, Manteca.
Tickets will be available also on the day of the tour at 4192 Volpaia Place, one of the gardens featured this year. The home is located at the former Manteca Waterslides location off Woodward Avenue.