Marin chateau boasts gardens inspired by France

Whatever Toni Wolfson and her husband, Bob Federighi, set out to accomplish, they do with flair.

Wolfson, president and owner of Daniels & Wolfson jewelry in San Francisco, and Federighi, a pre-eminent interior designer, stager and general contractor, live in a Marin County residence that is reminiscent of a French chateau.

Wolfson, who is co-chair with Eve Wertsch of the San Francisco Opera Ball 2008 on Sept. 5, displays her aesthetic sense in her extensive garden.

And with Federighi’s imaginative deployment of statuary, fountains and pagodas, she has created a masterpiece.

Poised on a slope, the property is rife with pocket gardens at different elevations that are woven together. The plantings create a kaleidoscope of color, texture and size.

The driveway circles past classic boxwood, magnolias, cherry laurels and cypresses, and a Grimm’s fairy-talelike guesthouse.

A walk down a flight of steps introduces the first garden: pristine, formal, French and filled with boxwood, pink hydrangeas and a 7-foot-tall fountain.

“Before we got married, we thought about having the ceremony here,” Wolfson says. “It’s our own Versailles.”

Jasmine flourishes along a trellis. A magnificent copper sky-lit pagoda, designed and executed by Federighi, leads to a vast expanse of hillside and Bay beyond.

There are choices. Climb up one level for a garden featuring an impressive oak tree, then wind down past a statue of Hercules to a garden pavilion. Or stroll further along the path, across two charming bridges, to the fire pit and a seating area featuring Philip Starck sofas.

“That’s our cigar-smoking area,” Wolfson says.

The expanse is planted with Japanese magnolias, rhododendron, cypress, fruit trees and birches. The resulting look is established and substantial; it’s hard to believe the vast majority of the gardens (with a pool under construction) have been completed since 2007.

“We’ve got microclimates here,” Wolfson says. “We worked with them, planting according to sunlight and temperature, and we used indigenous and also drought-resistant plants in many areas.”

The gardens are built for entertaining. Jeweler Wolfson, whose hallmark gems are always recognizable, has two favorite colors: “My mother always said white in the front yard and pink and white in the back.”

Roses (she likes Chicago Hope) are omnipresent, but Wolfson also has interjected purple hydrangeas and orange on the hillside. Wolfson’s goal for the Opera Ball is for everybody to have fun. She has taken that wish to heart, and to home, too.

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