Article in Northern california Home & Gardens

When licensed landscape architect Ali Davidson comes calling, she usually brings a plant. “I bring a shovel, too, and put it in the ground,” she adds with a laugh. Obviously this is not someone who takes gardening lightly.

Her garden in Belvedere, planted three years ago for Kirsten and Lars Langenskiold, is proof of the fact. Under Davidson’s skilled hand, this narrow strip of land between the back patio and dock was transformed into a work of art. Planted with over 25 varieties including black-eyed Susans, dusty miller, tiger lilies and star jasmine, the garden has been carefully tended by Jasmin Landscape in Corte Madera since its inception.

While this garden spills over with color, it does tend towards conservatism in its use of water. As director of the California Xeriscape Council, this is one aspect of her gardens Davidson doesn’t take lightly. “Once the lightbulb went off and realized you can have a beautiful garden that conserves water, I decided to specialize in xeriscapes. They’re the only gardens I do now,” she says.

The artistic quality of the waterside garden stems also from the influence of her clients. “Landscape design is always three-dimensional, but this was even more so.” Davidson asserts. “Kirsten is a very talented artist with a great love for modern art, so she wanted a bold garden, with big explosions of color: lots of orange and reds and yellows.”

It was even more important to make the garden bold and bright because of its small size. At 40-by-12 feet, the garden had to make the most of every inch of space. “It’s a bed, really,” Davidson laughs. “I call it my jewel box garden.”

Another interesting feature of the garden is that it is customarily viewed from the back, or the patio, rather than the front, which faces the water. “Unless you’re out in a boat you wouldn’t see it from the front.” Davidson says. In fact, Kirsten adds, on a hot summer day boats will moor in the lagoon just in front of the property. “They shout at us, ‘Nice garden!’” Kirsten laughs, and then adds, “We think so, too.”

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