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STYLE : GARDENS : Set in Stone

February 19, 1995|SUSAN HEEGER

Ornaments that suggest antiquity can give a garden weight, especially a new garden, where plants are still small and somewhat tentative. They can also add a sense of mystery, turning a stroll through the shrubbery into a meditation on time. In this Westside landscape, designed to complement an Italian-style house, limestone blocks form a collapsed tower amid sprays of Mediterranean greenery. Its creators--landscape architect Denis Kurutz and architect James Heaton III--conceived the spectacle not only as a pathway surprise but also as a resting place: The tower fragment doubles as a secluded bench.

An existing evergreen pear provides shade, and newer plantings--Spanish lavender, privet, society garlic, thyme and Australian rosemary--offer a blend of fragrances. To suit the owner's passion for history, the irregularly shaped stones were partly cut by hand and tumbled to give them a timeworn look. Catmint and Portuguese pennyroyal sprout from crevices between them, hinting at nature's scrappy persistence amid the rise and fall of human culture.

Such a message, Kurutz feels, is particularly relevant in Los Angeles, "where so much of our built landscape is fleeting. We need to think more about our place in history," he believes, "to ponder more on who and where we are."

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