Passing along her passion for gardening

Karen Goodman's parents instilled in her a passion for gardening, and she's now passing that gift along to her grandchildren.

The landscape of the Del Rio neighborhood home she shares with her husband, Dr. Michael Goodman, has a garden area devoted to their grandkids and is peppered with whimsical touches. Theirs is one of seven stops Saturday on the Modesto Garden Club's annual Spring Tour of Gardens and Outdoor Living.

The Goodmans have four grandkids, ages 20 months to 7 years, here and in Pleasanton. Each child got to pick out flowers at a nursery for his or her own 3-foot-diameter planting bowl.

"I took pictures while they were planting their little pots and I have these darling little plant stakes that I put their pictures in," Karen Goodman said, "and then I have their initials made into moss topiary forms."

The children's bowls include rocks engraved with their names and what they mean. "Like Sydney: Her name means wide meadow."

Tucked around the yard, Goodman has other child-friendly container gardens.

"I like to piddle around with miniatures," she said, "and I've made bowls with little gardenscapes like arches, little wire fences and little watering cans. It's kind of like bonsai — I have to trim them back because they can get overgrown."

The Goodmans have been in their home nearly 19 years. When they moved into the new home, the back yard was dirt and the front was a "cookie-cutter" lawn with a few trees.

"I didn't have a landscaper, I had my father and my sister — we all have the gardening bug in us," Goodman said. "My dad looked at the back yard and said, 'You need to add a patio here, and let's make a little curved walkway.'

"My father built me a beautiful pergola and put in my little rose garden area and and my little area that has a fountain in it. My father also built me seven raised growing beds."

LeRoy Wach also poured his daughter a concrete pad that for many years simply held "old pots and junk."

But in the past couple of years, Goodman and daughter Amanda Hughes have been growing vegetables from seed, and Goodman decided she'd like a small greenhouse.

"That pad ended up being perfect for it," she said. "My dad passed away about 3½ years ago, and every time I walk in my yard, I think of him. My mom lives with us now, so she enjoys it, too."

In addition to Del Rio area homes, Saturday's garden tour includes the Fleur de Ville community and the club's office at 622 14th St. Tour hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., participants must have transportation, and gardens may be visited in any order. Light refreshments and entertainment will be offered at one home.

Money raised from the tour goes to support the club's education programs and civic beautification projects, including the Modesto Flower Clock, the courthouse Victims Garden and the Virginia Corridor Rose Garden.

Bee Features Editor Deke Farrow can be reached at or 578-2327.