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Set amidst vineyards, garden has enduring appeal
A series of waterfalls in one corner of the Mathews garden feed the koi-filled pond that is the centerpiece of this back-yard private Eden. - photo by ROSE ALANO RISSO
The last stop in Saturday’s “Gardens for Generations” garden tour is no stranger to those who have faithfully followed this annual tradition of the Manteca Garden Club. This is the third time it has been featured in the last dozen years or so.

But, as tour co-chairman Joan Collins very well put it, gardener Kim Mathews always keeps his family’s private paradise as a project in progress.

“He changes it every time. It’s a little bit different now (than the last time),” explained Joan Collins who is sharing chairman duties this year with fellow garden club veteran Gayle Foster.

“Now, he’s added the kitchen and the bathrooms. He makes changes all the time. (Their garden) is just a nice place to end up the tour, where we can have the prize drawings and refreshments,” added Collins, a former garden club president and tour chairman several times over.

For those who are still thinking about a lasting and memorable gift to give to the special person in their lives on Mother’s Day, club president Sandi Larson said the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. garden tour on Saturday fits the bill. If you have time to grab a ticket today, you can do so at the following places: German Glas Werks at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street in downtown Manteca, New Buds Nursery on South Manteca Road just north of West Ripon Road, Park Greenhouse on West Ripon Road in Ripon, the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley north of the 120 Bypass on South Union Road, P & L Concrete in Escalon and Morris Nursery in Riverbank.

Otherwise, if you don’t have time to stop by any of the above businesses, don’t worry. Simply go to the first house in the garden tour at 1032 Magrath Place off Union Road and West Wawona Avenue and buy your tickets there. Along with your ticket, at $15 apiece, will be a list of the other gardens featured plus directions to the five other featured gardens.

If you are among the lucky ones, you may even bring home some gifts at the end of the tour. The club has rounded up a good number of prizes for the drawing to be held at the Mathews garden. Tickets for the drawing will be available for purchase at the third garden, as well as at the Mathews’ place. Tickets are six for $5.

However, while tour tickets will be available for purchase at the first house, “we’d like (visitors) to buy the tickets in advance, if they can,” Collins said.

In addition to the well-appointed outdoor kitchen with a cozy seating area which affords a 180-degree view of the expansive gardens, the Mathews’ well-tended private Eden boasts a large pool, or pond if you will, fed by a huge wooden water wheel built by Kim Mathews himself, plus more than a half-dozen waterfalls gurgling over giant rocks throughout the gardens, a Victorian gazebo in the middle of an expansive grassy area topped by a fowl-themed weather vane, and even a large aerial birdhouse overlooking stretches of vineyards all around the property.

If you’ve never seen a chestnut tree in bloom, this is your opportunity to have a close-up view of one. The blooming tree greets visitors at the entrance to a tree rose-lined walkway that leads to one of the garden’s highlights – a secluded garden seating area surrounded by water. The metal patio furniture is arranged at the end of a slate-covered floor that looks like a peninsula. Lush plants and garden accents fill the lattice walls from ground to ceiling, while the gentle sounds of shallow waterfalls both seen and hidden among the rocks enhance the visual experience.

For more information about the Manteca Garden Club or the garden tour, call club president Sandi Larson at (209) 824-2062, or tour coordinators Gayle Foster at 823-2209, and Joan Collins at (209) 823-6300.