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PORTABLE PARADISE : A few blocks from one of the city's busiest boulevards, Ronnie and Beryl Kinnock have constructed a country garden of movable plantings, a solution to the reality of renting and concrete.

November 10, 1985|ROBERT SMAUS

At Mid-Wilshire's massive Parklabrea, 1,150 small concrete patios sit within the communal courts of the aging apartment complex. Some are separated by stocky hedges. Here and there, residents have set out chairs and perhaps a potted plant or two. But more often than not, the patios simply sit, bare as a tennis court, barren shores surrounding a sea of lawn. Yet, one of these 7x17-foot slabs is as flower-filled as an English country garden. Not too surprisingly, it is tended by English gardeners who cannot understand why every Parklabrea patio is not as pretty. Film producer and writer Ronnie Kinnock and his wife, Beryl, brought their love of flowers--and the knack of growing them successfully--with them from their London town house, along with teas and toffees. Confronted by concrete, it struck them as obvious that ordinary flower pots simply wouldn't do. So the Kinnocks devised the containers seen here. The wooden troughs are on trestle-like legs that raise them above the height of the windowsill; thus they can be appreciated from inside the apartment. Little stooping is required when working among the containers. And the containers are portable--an asset for renters. A few planters are double-deckers; plants that enjoy the sun ride on top, shade plants below.

What grows in the containers? The Kinnocks' favorite is the lobelia, "as close to gentian blue" as they could come in California's climate. They grow the Crystal Palace strain, and it blooms most of the year. Other favorites include annual phlox, sweet alyssum, ivy geranium and a little white daisy named Chrysanthemum paludos um--all proper contents of a country garden.

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