Home and Garden: Bright colors highlight country garden in Marin

Patricia Ferrin Loucks is a philanthropic triple-hitter.

Active in three major San Francisco performing arts societies — the ballet, opera and symphony — she is playing a leadership role for the San Francisco Symphony’s Opening Gala on Sept. 3.

A working mom who lives in Tiburon with her three children — Chaz, 9, and twins Alexandra and Spencer, 4 — and husband Charlie, Loucks has had a long love affair with French country gardens.

Fabric designer Laura Ashley was her inspiration. While working for the Ashleys in Beverly Hills, she learned about “building a garden” from the designer’s son David.

“David taught me a lot about color, design and collecting antiques,” she says. “He came to my home and worked in my weed-filled garden to transform it.”

Influenced by the Ashleys’ former country home Chateau de Remaisnil in Doullens, France, Loucks continued her immersion into French gardening, studying lavender while working on wine consulting projects.

When the time came to create a garden for her home, she worked with Basque landscape designer Joseph Uhalde, who incorporated significant iconic French elements.

From the arched entry gate, one set of stone pathways and steps winds down to a lower grassy level. Another leads to a charming French green front door, which features a lush bougainvillea overhang that shades and adds a splash of contrasting fuchsia.

Roses, petunias, lilacs, geraniums (some in ceramic pots) — hallmarks of many French country gardens — populate the entry area and create a sea of soft yellows, pinks, bright cherry and light purples.

The grassy, rectangular, lower-level lawn is a perfect playground for Loucks’ young children (“great for croquet!”) and a flowing border of French lavender, which grows in many climates, adds a soft touch.

The side and back gardens highlight more innovative French landscaping. Walls of climbing roses in many colors stand above a gurgling fountain, with pottery and statues perched on stacked-rock terracing below.

Another winding stone path reaches the upper levels of the back garden. Plants are rife on every level, again intermingling pastel colors and pops of bright pinks.

The Loucks have built a romantic outdoor eating enclave in the garden. Its centerpiece is a lapis-and-jade table purchased on a trip to India in colors that replicate the surrounding bright foliage and flowering annuals.

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