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Manteca Garden Club donates raised gardens
The Manteca Garden Club at their recent meeting at New Bud’s Nursery. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Merrill Gardens residents with green thumbs will soon be able to putter in the garden with plenty of ease.

The Manteca Garden Club is donating two movable raised planters to the former Leisure Manor on Union Road, the first assisted independent living retirement community to open in Manteca. The elevated gardens will be three-foot square and 32 inches high from the ground with the top soil about one foot deep, said club member Hank Wiegel who is spearheading the project.

“I got them all engineered out. They will be standing on legs,” he said of the raised gardens’ specifications during the club’s monthly meeting Monday which was held at New Buds Nursery on South Manteca Road.

The gardens will be made out of redwood lumber, Wiegel said. He and other club members are contributing the manpower; the club is donating the money to purchase the lumber and other materials.

Merrill Gardens manager Clay Callahan is excited about the donated portable gardens.

“They will be presenting them to us – to the residents – on April 30,” he said.

The selected date happens to be Arbor Day.

Callahan said the residents are “most definitely” excited, “because a lot of them can’t plant flowers and gardens like they used to.”

With the raised gardens, all they need to do is “pull up a chair” and putter in the garden, he said.

“I think it’s really a great thing that the community is willing to help out,” Callahan added.

“We’ll put one of the gardens in our courtyard for our independent residents, and the other in our Memory Care courtyard,” he said. The Memory Care wing of Merrill Gardens is where residents with dementia have their living quarters. Callahan said the courtyard there is fenced in and is a secured and safe place.

Garden Club president Sandi Larson said the group decided to take on this community project for Merrill Garden residents “so that they can plant without getting down on their knees.”

Wiegel came up with the idea of raised planters at the retirement community after a recent visit there.

“I went over there and instructed them how to prune the roses,” he said.

While he was doing the pruning, some resident came by and offered to  help. “We trimmed about half a dozen roses,” Wiegel said.

When he brought up the subject of a raised planter, “they said, oh, please, please!” Wiegel said about the residents’ reaction to the idea.

He said one garden will probably be for flowers, and the other one for vegetables. Not only will the gardens be beneficial to avid gardeners; it will be a therapeutic activity for them also, Wiegel said.

“Hank has been very helpful,” Callahan said.

When he went to help prune the roses, he had an opportunity to meet the members of the Merrill Gardens Garden Club which meets every Friday at 11 am. The members help “keep up the grounds, and we have a greenhouse and a courtyard,” Callahan said.

When Wiegel came to “do a presentation on pruning trees, they really benefited from that,” Callahan said.