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SoCal Style / gardens

No Exit

An Ornamental Gate That Leads One Down the Garden Path

September 21, 1997|SUSAN HEEGER

Woods, fields, another fish pond? What lies beyond this wooden gate is anyone's guess--until you try to open it. Won't budge. It's not a gate at all but a trick to make a large garden seem larger and more mysterious. "There's an appealing romance to any opaque garden door," says landscape architect Denis Kurutz, who designed this one with architect James Heaton III. "Where will it take you? It pulls you in." But in this case--a spacious Westside acre--the faux portal, tucked into a property-line hedge, allowed the designers to "borrow" a neighbor's lot and make it appear part of their client's. From the owner's Spanish-style house, which sits opposite the pond across a lawn, the arched gate is clearly visible, and beyond it, so are the rustling crowns of the neighbor's deodar cedars, date palms and bamboos. To enhance the illusion of a single rambling estate, Kurutz added deodars on his client's side and evergreen pears on both properties. Next, to echo the neighbor's lacy bamboo, he planted mayten and peppermint trees for his client. One of each overhangs the gate; soon, on an iron armature above, blue wisteria will twine, matching one next door and further imbedding the gate in a wall of green. "In a garden of any size," Kurutz says, "you can fool the eye like this and create the sense of having more than you do. If you're especially friendly with your neighbor, you might even install a gate that works!"

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