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Special Issue: Fall Gardens | THE SCOUT

Backyard landing

October 06, 2005|Craig Nakano and Adamo DiGregorio | Special to The Times

CAN the seats double as flotation devices? It probably doesn't matter when the rest of the plane is this cool. The Jet Set playhouse, shown here, is equipped with cabin windows, a flight simulator in the cockpit and overhead bins to store stuffed animals. For the more architecturally inclined child, there's the Outside Inn, evoking the work of John Lautner by blurring the distinction between indoors and out (though it's doubtful the late architect envisioned a house with a climbing rope and "loft area with escape route"). Both mini manses are part of Project Playhouse, a fundraiser for the nonprofit HomeAid, which helps the homeless. On Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, one playhouse will be raffled and six others will be auctioned -- for an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 each, a HomeAid spokeswoman said. Tickets to the auction party are $100 each, but you can tour the playhouses for $2 at the Westfield Century City mall. For information: (818) 874-9842, www.projectplayhouse.com.

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FINDS: Oval office for the birds

For the Mod bird or the Mod bird lover? This sleek, minimalist Egg Bird Feeder will satisfy both. Conceived by Jim Schatz, the 8-inch-tall ceramic feeder is designed to thwart looting squirrels, allowing even the most finicky finch to dine in peace. The main piece comes in contemporary white, fashionable brights or a tonal autumn gold, each equipped with an aluminum base and priced at $135. Plastica, 8405 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-1051; www.plasticashop.com.

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HAPPENING: Taking the party outdoors

Mention the Lummis Home in Highland Park, and most people think of the historic house that Charles Fletcher Lummis built starting in 1898 using stones from the Arroyo Seco. But on Oct. 23, the focus will shift to the garden: a 2-acre plot filled with California natives, climate-appropriate Mediterranean plants and other water-wise alternatives, including a yarrow meadow that stands in place of typical turf grass. From noon to 4 p.m., planting demonstrations, plant sales, talks by landscape architects Richard Fisher and Robert Perry, and other free events will be held to mark the 20th anniversary of the garden's transformation from chaparral into demonstration garden.

"It follows an aesthetic that Lummis would have agreed with," says Robert Montoya, event coordinator for the Historical Society of Southern California, organizer of the celebration. The first 300 visitors will receive a free copy of Kevin Connelly's soft-cover book, "Month by Month in a Waterwise Garden." 200 E. Avenue 43, Highland Park; (323) 222-0546.

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TRENDSPOTTING: Sleek heavyweight

Outdoor planters have long been fabricated from terra cotta, detailed with a scrolled lip and often festooned with Versace-worthy medallions. Now, poured-concrete garden vessels are taking a contemporary form: clean, simple lines that owe their inspiration to architectural pottery from California's midcentury boom. The planters shown here, from Sunset Nursery in Silver Lake, come in assorted sizes, and a planter box is also available. Prices start at $100. A little warning: The pieces may look simple, but moving them is not. 4368 Sunset Blvd., (323) 661-1642.

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