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Part of Manteca Garden Club tour May 11

Dusk is a special time for Loretta and Steve Parsons in the summer. They have a cozy nook in their back yard where they are surrounded by a variety of creature comfort and pleasures — live musical entertainment, crepuscular sounds from a host of evening visitors, and heady perfume from various floral plants in their spacious well-tended garden.

Their home along Morning Glory Street in the Woodbridge at Del Webb in Manteca enjoys a location that affords one of the most coveted vantage views in this age-restricted gated community. The west-facing part of their back yard overlooks the amphitheatre which serves as the venue for live entertainment. Not only is the view enviable, with their seating comparable to a balcony location in a concert arena. There are no crowds to jostle with, nor distracting noise to content with. Theirs is absolute privacy, with a table setting just for two next to the back fence, which is right in the middle of their private Eden.

On one side of their cozy outdoor seating corner is a waterfall, its calming and soothing sounds contributing a peaceful audio addition to the performances below. The rest of the garden around them offers a variety of visual and olfactory delights. Much of the sweet-smelling nature's perfume comes from the rose garden under and around a trellis. Geraniums and other floral plants contribute to the evening's fragrance as well.

"This was all dirt when we moved here," explained Steve Parsons, gesturing to the open grassy areas below where the amphitheater plus a white-washed windmill are located. That was five years ago. They have lived in three other homes in Manteca prior to that.

While the rest of the Del Webb residents and guests can all enjoy the visual delights in the common areas behind the Parsons' home, the couple can enjoy the privacy of their well-appointed garden. It's a garden that shows all signs of being pampered by green thumbs. Which should be no surprise, explained Loretta. Her husband's father used to work in a nursery and was an avid gardener. He passed on those genes to his son. In fact, Steve even has a greenhouse that he, himself, built in a section of the garden.
Genes are not the only things handed down from one generation to the next. Many of the Parsons' plants have a family history as well.

Their potted Morning Glory, for one thing. The potted plant with bluish purple blossoms does not appear to be the typical annual Morning Glory but Steve has always given this perennial that name. It is 31 years old, and has been propagated so many times and found homes in various relatives' and friends' gardens through the year. His mother even "took a part of it to Texas" when she moved there. As many times as it has been subdivided, the Morning Glory continues to thrive.
The plant even has its own love story.

"My dad gave it to my mom when they were married 30 years ago. I can't let it go. It's my mom's," Steve said of the plant.

It's been transplanted at least three times, whenever and wherever they moved to a new home.
A Martha Washington geranium and a potted rose share the same sentimental story. Steve explained that the Martha Washington, one of the most eye-catching varieties of the geranium plant, was a favorite of his grandmother and actually had this plant originally at her home in the Bay Area. Like the Morning Glory, the Martha Washington has also followed the Parsons every time they moved to a new home, the latest of which is at Del Webb.

The potted rose is from Loretta's mom and is also nearly 30 years old. It is part of the rose garden under a white trellis. The roses come in a variety of colors that include a purple one called Blue Girl.
Right next to a pair of snow-white roses is a white bucket with a few inches of water. Floating on the water are dozens of lifeless "rose beetles." This is the Parsons' way of saving the roses from the highly destructive beetles which can decimate a blooming rose overnight with their voracious appetite for the white flowers. The bucket has to be white because "they go for the color," the Parsons explained.
Other attractions in the couple's garden are a "Rice Tree," so-called because the flowers look like a clump of rice, an alstroemeria cutting garden, a gerbera daisy garden, and a dinner-plate dahlia garden, among others.

The Parsons' garden is one of the six being featured in the Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Manteca Garden Tour sponsored by the Manteca Garden Club. Tickets are $20 per person. This is the only fund-raiser to benefit the club with the money used for their community beautification projects and scholarship awards for high school seniors.

Garden tickets are availabe at the following locations:
* Rain Forest Nursery on West Yosemite Avenue
* Tipton's Stationery & Gifts in downtown Manteca (corner Yosemite Avenue and Maple Street)
* New York Diamonds in the Walmart commercial center (South Main Street and Mission Avenue)
* German Glas Werks in downtown Manteca, (corner Yosemite and Main)
* Sadie's Salon, East Yosemite Avenue across from Manteca High
* Ed's Rockery on East Lathrop Road (on the east end of the Lathrop Road Highway 99 overcrossing)
* Silverado Nursery on Stockton Avenue in Ripon
* Park Greenhouse on West Ripon Road in Ripon
* Delicato Family Vineyards, Highway 99 Frontage Road (west side of the freeway)
* Manteca Senior Center, Cherry Lane just behind City Hall.

A brochure showing the garden locations will be available when you purchase a ticket.
Refreshments will be available at the last house featured in the tour where door prizes will be given away to lucky visitors.

For more information, visit the group's website at You may also contact them at P.O. Box 23, Manteca, CA 95336.