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STYLE : GARDENS : Streamlined

February 23, 1992|SUSAN HEEGER

Roy Crummer lives between wind-swept mountains and the endless drift of the Pacific, but when he walks out into his Malibu garden, the wind stops and the air is filled with the smell of flowers.

Which doesn't mean that the wilder elements are unwelcome. In creating the garden in 1990, the late landscape designer Charlie Swigart invited the mountains in by installing a symbolic waterway of granite boulders that now appear to be spilling from the distant peaks into Crummer's swimming pool. Swigart edged the stream bed with fragrant rosemary, ivy geranium and sea lavender--hardy plants that would thrive with little irrigation in a low-maintenance setting.

Elsewhere, working with Culver City architect Melinda Gray (who designed Crummer's house and a guest cottage), Swigart played with curves and planes to echo the environment: An undulating block wall dripping with ice plant turns the downhill trip from street to house into an interesting plunge; the gray pavers of the steps appear to wash over the patio and up a wall, becoming part of the home's facade.

For Crummer, who owns Coogie's Beach Cafe in Malibu, the landscape is a slice of nature that "feels like it might have sprung up here on its own." Quieter than Crummer's ocean view, his garden vista--splashed with daylilies and climbing roses--relaxes him and brings the spirit of the setting very gently down to earth.

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