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STYLE: GARDENS : Fountains of Flora

February 07, 1993|SUSAN HEEGER

Cascading plants can cool sunbaked walls as effectively as water and ease a steep trek from the street to a hilltop house. Here in Santa Monica Canyon, giant-step planter boxes--designed by Malibu architect Michael Barsocchini--provide the only landscaping on a soaring slope and bring a high home down to earth. Malibu landscape contractor Linda Yannetty did the planting, using greens suggestive of the tropics: ferns, fortnight lilies, queen palms and a pair of exotic firewheel trees. Fragrant flora--gardenias, honeysuckle and jasmine--sweeten the climb, and a mixed spray of bougainvilleas will eventually screen a light-filled entry court.

The owner, who's from Hawaii, began with the modest goal of "having a yard where there wasn't one--a nice green, low-maintenance front that would be soothing to the eye." A year and a half later, she's got an emerald waterfall that softens the angles of her house and brings the jungle to her door. "I can't believe how fast it grew," she says, "or how relaxing its effect is."

Not bad for a garden conjured out of thin air.

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