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STYLE: GARDENS : The Edible Landscape

March 07, 1993|SUSAN HEEGER

On the surface, Andrea Bell's garden is a raging paradise--littered with flowers, noisy with waterfalls, replete with shady bowers for relaxing in. But beyond the nodding lavatera and the koi cruising under water lilies, there's an unexpected twist: This little hill's a working farm.

Bell, a chef who owns the catering firm L.A. Celebrations!, has tucked white corn, tomatoes and crookneck squash amid the dahlias and delphiniums on her Pacific Palisades slope. Her zucchinis droop bat-sized toward an herb-and-lettuce plot, which is a stone's throw from English roses, nasturtiums and Johnny-jump-ups--all flowers you can eat.

This mix of edible and ornamental gives Bell both personal pleasure and raw material for her business. Her pelargoniums garnish fruit plates; her pansies pop up in salads; her zucchinis grace buffet tables.

Less than a year ago, when she tired of looking at weeds and yearned to grow her own food, Bell hired Studio City garden designer Robert Tainsh and Van Nuys horticulturist/designer David Mason to structure the space with walls, steps and beds. She chose the plants herself, had a recirculating stream built and brought in turtles, frogs and ladybugs for pest patrol. Recently, she added two Plymouth Rock chickens. "I love animals," she says. "I get up at 5:30 to watch the frogs jump around."

Bell also savors the rewards of her agricultural labors: armfuls of fresh flowers and greens.

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