Triathlete's garden reflects an active life

Candé C. Cuvillier is one of those natural athletes born to run, bike and swim.

She has competed in triathlon and marathons around the world, trekked through the Himalayas in Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal.

Every week, she swims to The City from Alcatraz or Treasure Island. She doesn’t even need to train much; the “Century Rider” bikes 100 miles for fun. She also has found time to earn a black belt in tae kwon do.

Her home garden in San Francisco’s Marina district reflects an athlete’s love of the outdoors and a gardener’s passion for verdant landscapes.

Cuvillier has arranged a wondrous, enchanting, water-centric oasis in her gardens.

The central feature is an 1,800-pound, life-size bronze statue of a prancing horse and a playful dog, called “Buddies.”

Reworking the terrain around the statue, Cuvillier built the free form pond with three fountains and water features.

Such is Cuvillier’s passion (“I’m a water sign”) that she expanded the pond twice from the original reflecting pool, and then stocked it with koi, goldfish and myriad other fish. Lotus, water lilies, water hyacinths and various grasses add a seaside ambiance.

Cuvillier planted a green carpet of grass around the pond and designed and constructed low, curving, stacked stone walls to highlight specific plantings in the surrounding yard. Each rock was handpicked by Cuvillier from a nearby quarry.

In the rear of the garden, spruce trees shade massive heads of rhododendron as well as hydrangeas, azaleas, ferns and ivy.

Roses, dahlias, foxgloves, spray roses, geraniums, Tasmanian ferns, melianthus major, agastache and perennials energize the side borders, while multiple pale pink orchids stand at attention by the patio.

President of Cuvillier Concepts, the entrepreneur has been a general contractor who conceptualizes and produces major events for big trade shows — stages, scenery, sets, booths — at Moscone Center, in San Jose and on the West Coast in general.

She’s now following her passion and creating innovative special events, meetings and shows that celebrate cutting-edge and eco-friendly trends.

She enjoys the juxtaposition of  bright colors with cool tones, activity centers with restful spaces.

“Green is my favorite color,” she says, “but I like complementing it with fiery oranges and reds.

“I like to listen to the sound of the water and watch the fish,” she adds. “My eyes are drawn to them because they’re powerful and playful.”

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