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Pure folly? Precisely

PASSIONS

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.

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.

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."

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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