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Now Showing Reel Gardens

The Arboretum's fourth annual shows pays tribute to films that have planted the seeds of gardeners' dreams.


If you liked the movie, you'll love the garden, at least that's what the organizers of the fourth Los Angeles Garden Show are hoping.

This year's theme, "Gardens of the Silver Screen," pays homage to Hollywood--the inspiration for everything from flower arrangements to the show's style gardens.

The four-day garden extravaganza opens Thursday at the Arboretum of Los Angeles County in Arcadia, which just happens to be a favorite location for movies and TV series.

The original "Tarzan" was filmed here, as were "Fantasy Island," "Murder She Wrote" and "Anaconda." The snake-infested swamp in that scary movie was actually the peaceful duck pond at the arboretum.

Sponsored by the California Arboretum Foundation, the outdoor show is held in October because of the great autumn weather and because fall is such a good time to plant just about anything.

More than 25,000 visitors attended last year's show; proceeds fund projects at the arboretum.

This year there are 13 small style gardens to look at or walk through, each created by a different designer and all based on movies or Hollywood personalities.

These sometimes fantastic gardens are full of design and planting ideas that can be borrowed or modified for your own backyard. They're small enough (about 30 by 30 feet) to even make sense on a condominium patio but, because they are outside, they're larger than those seen at the typical fair or flower show.

More often than not, they use new materials and plants, or daring ideas, that can't be tried for the first time in a client's garden.

Though the gardens may be the best reason to attend the show, it's also a great place to hear lectures on all aspects of gardening. There will be two lectures going on during most show hours, about everything from garden antiques to feng shui in the garden.

Those in need of a few plants for fall planting, or some garden ornaments or gadgets, will find plenty to look at inside the Marketplace or outside at the Plant Market. Or, visitors can simply admire the flowers arranged inside the Floral Pavilion at Ayres Hall.

An area called Garden Living will feature seven canopied room settings designed by members of the Pasadena chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, and these will also have Hollywood themes. One will recreate a jungle-like dressing room for Johnny Weissmuller, the star of the original "Tarzan" film series.

The Style Gardens

Just what does a movie-inspired garden look like? Because the gardens are planted only days before the show opens, you'll have to visit to see for yourself, but sketches of the proposed gardens look intriguing.

Scenes from the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz" will greet visitors at the gate, but instead of a yellow brick road, the path will be lined with blazing yellow lantana.

Burkard Nurseries in Pasadena and wholesale Monrovia Nursery Co. are planting the entrance to look like the scarecrow's cornfield.

Hidden among the cornstalks will be recent plant introductions from Monrovia, such as the plum-foliaged fringe flower named "Sizzling Pink" and the brightly colored dwarf crape myrtles and oleanders. (The show has always been a good place to see some of the newest plants available to gardeners.)

The Montana trout stream in Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" will be turned into a dry stream bed that flows through an environmentally sound California garden by Toyon Design. Natives and other drought-tolerant plantings will grow along its banks.

Clint Eastwood's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," based on John Berendt's best-selling book, was a puzzle to some viewers, and designer Suzie Moon promises that the garden will also be "grand and curious."

A formal patio set in the South, it will be a combination of opulence and decay. Statuary and fountains done in black and white will combine with plants colored lavender, plum, purple, gray and blood red.

A garden by Rebecca Bubenas will look like a landscape "that might have been designed by George Hurrell," who took crisp, contrasty black and white portraits of Hollywood stars of the 1930s and '40s.

The garden will contrast dark with bright plantings and will be full of strong shadows and sharp angles, as are the classic photographs.

"The Garden of Allah," a 1936 film starring Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, contained garden sets designed by landscape architect Florence Yoch (though her most famous set was for "Gone With the Wind").

It will be the inspiration behind Martin Kelly's Moorish design, with an octagonal blue pool surrounded by pots and pebble mosaic. The plantings are mostly things that could be found growing around the Mediterranean.

"The Secret Garden" by Janie Malloy of Home Grown is based on the 1993 children's movie that was adapted from the well-known book. This neglected garden has been discovered by children who bring it back to life.

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