A collection of work by Living Green Design
Fairfax Tropical Hideaway
A one half acre site in the Cascades of Fairfax, California, is transformed into a fantasy horticulturist collector’s garden. Ashlar patterned China multi color slate is butted without mortar joints to present as a monastery stone floor. A custom ‘necklace’ of templated Arizona flagstone becomes the pool coping, creating a seamless transition between pool and terrace. Another section of the garden includes new, elevated ipe decking to create more outdoor lounge space. A re-circulating, new koi pond and lotus water garden is surrounded by a collection of cold hardy palms and cycads. The subtropical plant palette blurs the lines between two distinct, yet compatible landscapes; California coastal woodlands and tropical, exotic Bali.
San Francisco Showcase "The Sea Is Rising" | 2016
For Showcase 2016, we transformed an abandoned side garden into an underwater scene as a metaphor to speak about climate change, global warming, and specifically, rising seas. Long, shaggy fescue grass was planted to mimic the ocean floor, scores of giant clam shells, ‘pearls’, and bronze cast sea creatures were employed to represent flotsam and jetsam that was left behind as huge waves receded. Succulents, grasses, euphorbias, antique broken urns, sea shells and tumbled glass were infused into the scene to complete the fanciful impression that this garden was indeed now a part of Neptune’s realm.
Big Island Botanical Retreat
Living Green founder, Davis Dalbok, has, for over 25 years, been developing his private 24 acre garden Shangri La on the Big Island of Hawaii. Once an abandoned sugar cane farm very near the east coast, Dalbok has transformed the property into a world class collectors garden and organic farm. Balinese residences have been built, ocean views enlarged, and the property is now noted for the extensive, curated collections of palms, orchids, bamboos, cycads, bromeliads, vireyas, and myriads of tropical companion plantings. An ongoing native lowland tropical rainforest restoration project ensures that native plants and indigenous life will endure.
Very near the Presidio Gate in San Francisco, this location was once a dry cleaners shop, now transformed into a chic residence and Asian style garden. The owners desired a modernist koi pond and a lush setting to feature many of their collectible antiques. Honed black granite of the koi pond surround and waterfall meet butted multi color slate which is finished to a high gloss. Subtropical, yet restrained plantings engender an otherworldly sense of place. A very large teak framed mirror is buried in the the farthest wall, creating a portal into another realm.
High in the Hills, Under the Sea
This unique garden, an ongoing work in progress, was created for a well known Pixar director. He graciously extended free rein to us, allowing Davis the opportunity to meet the playful antics of Pixar’s work. Artist Marcia Donahue provided incredible ceramic sculpture that blurs the line between underwater worlds and exotic garden plantings. The client asked for portions of the new garden to reflect the aesthetic of their Secret Beach estate on the island of Kauai, so we established a very curated collection of exotic palms replete with taro, gingers, bromeliads and other subtropical understory. Vivid color in the garden is reflected in choices for furniture fabrics and shade umbrellas. As the luminous life of this client unfolds, Living Green will continue to bring exciting new elements to this garden experience.
High Tech Chic
A wrap around penthouse terrace with amazing San Francisco Bay views was transformed by cladding red brick parapet walls with cor ten steel panels. Acid color staining enhanced the existing drab grey elevated pavers with warmer tones. Distinct ‘rooms’ that flow from one to the other create opportunities for lounging, dining and cooking, enjoying the view from the sky bar, and from the master suite, viewing a wrap around and movable vertical garden that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Dramatic focal points include a black granite water wall that impersonates surrounding high rise buildings, and large scale art that’s embedded into the vertical garden.
Cor Ten Zen
The Kentfield, California client originally requested a stone retaining wall above her motor court. When we proposed a cor ten steel wall canted at a 12 degree repose, she instantly embraced the idea and the concept grew as we designed a cor ten moon gate, mailbox design, and thin cor ten cladding over the entire automatic garage door. As the project took on a life of it’s own, we convinced her to entirely circumscribe the stuccoed residence with a perforated cor ten steel band. Very casual woodland plantings in shades of green reflect the natural native environment that surrounds the property. A giant stone geode from Bali was utilized as a water feature at the front door. Robert Young bamboo and large cold hardy philodendrons create a unique setting for the feature.
A San Francisco pied-a-terre romance garden rises from what was once an asphalt parking lot. Antique brick pavers are imported from Spain, and a local Bay Area workshop creates elegant limestone coping, wall caps, and detailing to our specifications. Vintage gates from Tunisia and Prague engender a sense of European class and mystery. Groves of mature kentia palms, masses of yellow clivia, specimen evergreen thuja and subtropical rhododendrons are imported to set the horticultural stage. A magical, formalesque multi-tiered water feature is imagined from an antique limestone facade that the client sourced at the Paris flea market for large things. “We built Paradise, We took out a parking lot.”
Southpark Tropical Modern
A very contemporary 3-story residence in South Park required a unique solution to accommodate parking and a multi-tiered modernist tropical garden. One side of the garden incorporates steps down from the paved parking to the lower area, and then continues as a linear stripe of koi ‘pond’ and water garden. A standing white marble Buddha appears to ‘walk on water’. The other side of the garden is curvilinear and relaxed to create space for a bench and deep beds of specimen subtropical plantings. Modernist, silver powder coated containers carry the lush garden experience to the parking level above.
Seasonal Displays & Arrangements
Living Vertical Gardens
San Francisco Decorator Showcase | 2012
When we got the call that no garden designers had interviewed for the portico entry area, we saw the potential for this space as a unique opportunity to go public with one of our first vertical garden endeavors. The residence next door was fully open to this grand, classically columned portico. What was required to privatize the space was literally a wall, a wall of living green. The challenge was that the light exposure shifted dramatically as the wall became shaded by the overhead architecture. We decided to gradually transition the plant palette from full sun succulents to a lush wall of fern and shade loving plants. Fanciful Copper and brass Moroccan torchieres from our gallery of artifacts by Venetian maestro Luciano Tempo, along with a magnificent pair of his white marble elephants made one feel as if they were about to enter a grand Casbah. An elegant, prayerful white marble monk blessed all attendees.
San Francisco Decorators Showcase - "50 Shades of Green" | 2014
’50 Shades of Green’ The garden for this particular showcase had very good bones to start with. We took out the ‘riff raff’, added more hedging and trees, and then imbued the scene with a truckload of curated artifacts from our Living Green inventory. Specimen tree ferns were added to compliment the few that were already on the site. Old terra cotta garden pieces were the perfect material for this grand old brick mansion. We decided not to fill the formal beds with flamboyant seasonal color, but rather to create a scene of mostly shades of green accented by a handful of coleus and variegated hostas. A magnificent bronze Hercules torso presided over the landscape, while a bright red iron bench provided a place for quiet contemplation.