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French Irresistance

Samuelis open their country garden home to help graduates of the foster-care system.

May 06, 2000|ANN CONWAY

In the spotlight: The lush, seaside French-country-garden-in-the-making of Susan and Henry Samueli, the computer-chip billionaire who helped launch Broadcom Corp. in Irvine. The couple's sweeping, flower-rimmed property in Corona del Mar was the setting for a luncheon Tuesday sponsored by 44 Women for Children, a new auxiliary of the Orangewood Children's Foundation.

Through the gate: More than 200 swept along a sideyard path to reach the multimillion-dollar estate's emerald lawn. The view from the breathtaking promontory featured surf crashing onto rock formations before rolling onto a private sandy beach.

Luncheon tables were shaded with white canvas umbrellas and crowned with small bouquets of fresh lilacs--each accented with a white rose. Background music emanated from speakers (built to resemble natural rocks) strategically placed among the landscape's boxwood hedges.

Another unique feature in the Samueli garden: hidden cameras that film the outdoor scene so it can be enjoyed on an indoor screen.

Formerly trimmed with dark junipers, the lawn's perimeters are gradually being converted into the colorful combination of multilevel florals that characterize French country gardens.

"Whenever I go to France, I feel at home," Susan Samueli said.

Sharing the beauty: Since she came to Orange County five years ago, Samueli has been eager to open her doors to charitable causes.

"This is something I have wanted to do for a long time," she said. "And this is such a beautiful location to do that."

The Samuelis moved into the home in December.

Samueli--who, with her husband, has donated millions of dollars to UCI's College of Medicine and other charities--helped found 44 Women for Children, an auxiliary that aims to assist graduates of Orange County's foster-care system. Members will help young people in education, job placement and housing.

"I have children and I can't imagine someone abusing a child," said Samueli, the mother of three daughters. "Orangewood has opened my heart; I'm happy to help."

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at ann.conway@latimes.com.

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