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."