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Stop on tour oozes wanderlust, nostalgia
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Gary Dei Rossi, retired deputy superintendent of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, points to one of the mementos he and his wife brought home from one of the 22 U.S. national parks they have visited so far. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent

Wanderlust. Nostalgia. These are two words that immediately come to mind while meandering around the Dei Rossi gardens.
Yes, gardens. That’s a luxury afforded by a two-acre property. And Gary and Kathy Dei Rossi exploited that expansive blessing to the hilt.
First, there’s the garden around the pool. Off the gate to the northwest corner of the country real estate spread is the vegetable and fruit trees section. The third, and the largest of the gardens is a park-like setting behind the pool area which is visually separated from all the rest by a metal fence built for safety as mandated by the law.
The entire two-acre estate is generously surrounded by trees, giving it such a wilderness feel that even wild visitors feel they are welcome to feel at home here. The Dei Rossis planted a total of 122 evergreen trees that include live oaks and 71 majestic redwoods. The hawks, a peahen, pheasants, coyotes, possums, foxes and, yes, skunks have all freely taken advantage of the open invitation with no RSVP.
The hawks that established an aerie home up the live oak tree near the pool left their abode still intact, perhaps awaiting for the next avian residents. Their fertile signatures are evident in the plants directly below the nest.
The peahen that appeared out of nowhere one day made itself at home for a year. It was friendly all right, often walking up to the glass French doors in the kitchen to peer inside as though waiting for an invitation to come in. Months later, the feathered friend they named Helga disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared. But not before leaving a path of destruction. For the duration of its stay, “she ate all my vegetables,” sadly stated Kathy.
Fortunately, the inanimate nostalgic garden décor scattered all over have no such negative impact. On the contrary, they carry with them tons of nostalgia that make walking around the meandering pathways pleasurable if not educational. The statuary collection includes a miniature mo’ai, the monolithic human figures carved between 1300 and 1600 on Easter Island in eastern Polynesia, a miniature version of a Xi’an warrior from China standing like a mute sentinel in the Asian-themed corner of the garden, a Celtic cross that is a reminder of their visit to Ireland, and a wind chime from Taos, Mexico.
A visual highpoint along the garden walkway is a white gazebo guarded by a wood standing bear from Lake Tahoe, a special travel and vacation destination of the Dei Rossis. It’s not just their personal “homage to the mountains” of the Sierra. “That’s my mascot,” smiled Gary, a graduate of UCLA and retired deputy superintendent of the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
The sense of nostalgia in the park-like garden is heightened by a pair of orange and black seats. The brass plaque on the side of the seats tells the significance of this acquisition: “1960-2013. Candlestick Park – Home of the Giants and 49ers. Loaned in perpetuity by the Arthur and Catherine Anderson Trust.” So visitors can actually seat on an authentic piece of sports history while watching a ball game being played in the field or a game of Wiffle ball. There’s even a pair of bleachers plus a scoreboard.
“It’s quite elaborate,” said Gary with a laugh.
Less visual than their bigger counterparts of the garden, but just as meaningful to the Dei Rossis, are the medal-sized souvenirs collected from the national parks they have visited in the United States. They have been to 22 of the 59 national parks in the country. To date, they have travelled to every state in the United States except South Carolina.
“We try to get some stuff from our travels,” Gary explained.
As for their overseas trips, they have been to 56 countries and have visited every continent except Antarctica.
“We’ve traveled a lot throughout our marriage,” said the retired educator whose wife is also a retired Manteca Unified School District teacher.
A vegetable garden
with Ripon roots
Arguably the most nostalgic corner of the Dei Rossi garden is the area that is planted with squash, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins and string beans plus fruit trees that include nectarine, peach and blood orange. But it’s the stand of grapes that is closest to the heart of the Dei Rossis. They are a tribute to Gary’s parents, Walter and Betty Dei Rossi.
“My mom and dad had a grape orchard in Ripon,” he explained.
After they passed away two, three years ago, they took some grafts of the grape from his parents’ orchard and planted them at their new home. The three grape varieties they brought home are monukka, red flame and Thompson, all seedless.

Garden tour
tickets still available
The Dei Rossi garden is one of nearly a dozen being featured in the Manteca Garden Tour this Saturday sponsored by the Manteca Garden Club. The garden tour is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with refreshments and door prize giveaways to take place at the last featured home. Donation per person is $20 with all proceeds to be used for the garden club’s scholarship, civic, and community beautification projects.
Advance tickets, which come with the tour itinerary, may be purchased at the following locations:
uIn Manteca – Rainforest Nursery on West Yosemite Ave., Sadie’s Salon on East Yosemite across from Manteca High School, New York Diamonds in the Walmart shopping center on South Main Street, Tipton’s Stationery & Gifts and German Glas Werks on West Yosemite in downtown Manteca, Ed’s Rockery on East Lathrop Road, Delicato Vineyards on South Highway 99 Frontage Road just north of Lathrop Road, and the Manteca Senior Center next to the Civic Center.
uIn Ripon – Park Greenhouse & Nursery on West Ripon Road, and Silverado Nursery on South Stockton Avenue.
Each ticket will also qualify as an entry for the many door prizes to be offered in the final home at the end of tour. The main prize is the winning original art work selected by the garden club to grace this year’s garden tour promo ads and brochures. The winning student artist is Louisa Hunter of Sierra High School.
Tickets also will be available for purchase the day of the tour at the businesses mentioned above, or at 1086 Golden Pond Drive.
For more information about joining the club or for other information about the group, visit or on Facebook.