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PASSIONS

Pure folly? Precisely

Eccentricity and excess are hallmarks of a centuries-old architectural tradition.

June 30, 2005|David A. Keeps | Times Staff Writer

With his home, he took a long hard look at his yard. "I liked the idea of creating this world around me, where I wouldn't know I was in Los Angeles," he says. "I could be in Tuscany or the south of France. At first I thought it might look like a postmodern shopping center, but I decided if I went all the way with an authentic structure and really make it look like a ruin, that would be quite an accomplishment."

And so it was. And when he looked at it, Shapiro was pleased. But not quite finished. Thumbing through a magazine earlier this year, he came across a photograph of the Chateau Marqueyssac in the Dordogne region of France, that featured an elaborate garden labyrinth made from topiary boxwood.

In a garden already filled with palms, Italian cypress and bamboo and fragrant with lavender, chosen for the color of the foliage rather than the sweetness of the flower, Shapiro embarked upon a botanical folly.

"I spent five days deciding where to plant 480 mature boxwoods and spent several hours a day for the next month trimming them," he says. "This is not a complaint; I'm obsessed with doing it."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 01, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Royal Pavilion -- An article in Thursday's Home section on architectural follies included a photo caption that said the Royal Pavilion was in Brighton, Wales. Brighton is in England.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday July 07, 2005 Home Edition Home Part F Page 4 Features Desk 0 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Royal Pavilion -- An article in last week's Home section on architectural follies included a photo caption that said the Royal Pavilion was in Brighton, Wales. Brighton is in England.

The result was well worth it. Adjacent to a stone patio decked with gray spray-painted wicker chairs from Pier 1 Imports, Shapiro's boxwood maze is a series of rounded undulating forms traversed by curlicue gravel walkways -- an Alice in Wonderland garden as photographed by Tim Burton.

Shapiro considers the $25,000 he spent "a great bargain."

"It's such a singular thing," he says. "It's of the same ilk as the other folly."

He has since moved onto a more quotidian project.

"I'm doing my living room over," Shapiro says. "I don't know what else I can do around here on a large scale basis, but I'm sure I'll think of something."

David A. Keeps can be reached at home@latimes.com.

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