Wed07302014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Enjoying the native garden in winter


Photo By: Tanya Kucak/ Special to the Town Crier
Photo Tanya Kucak/ Special To The Town Crier

Manzanita flowers, above, burst forth in the rainy season, in shades ranging from pure white to deep pink. Each variety blooms on a different schedule and with a different color. Plant a variety of manzanitas to enjoy extended bloom times and the spectrum of delicate pinks.

Unless it’s cold and windy or raining heavily, winter is a wonderful time to linger in the garden. In mid- to late winter, some manzanitas have started blooming, and the fresh blue-green foliage of California poppies is forming a fluffy mound.

If you’re like me, you might intend to sit on a bench and observe your garden, but pretty soon you find yourself kneeling on the ground, pulling a tiny weed that has barely poked through the surface or gently brushing aside some mulch where a native wildflower is coming through. Or looking closely to see the tiny flowers on an evergreen currant.

With the soil moistened by winter rains, it’s easy to pull weeds. Once you’ve learned to distinguish weed seedlings from resprouting native annuals, you can remove the weeds while they’re small and give the annuals more room in the garden.

It’s also a good time to prune perennials and some shrubs. A good rule of thumb is to avoid cutting shrubs from the chaparral plant community during the rainy season, and to cut back other plants before the new buds have started forming. Manzanita and Ceanothus, for instance, are chaparral shrubs that bloom in winter and spring, so wait to cut them back – sparingly, if at all – until after they have bloomed.

Spreading perennials such as hummingbird fuchsia, Matilija Poppy and mugwort must be pruned in winter. Assuming they’ve been in the ground a year or two and have developed a strong root system, they benefit from being cut to a couple inches high. Left unmanicured, hummingbird fuchsia develops long branches with tufts of flowers at the tip, losing its lush, mounded form. (But varieties with thicker, woodier stems and taller habits need a lighter hand.) If the soil is not too wet, it’s also a good time to dig out sections that are crowding other plants and relocate them.

Perennials with flowering stems that tower above the mound of vegetation, as a general rule, only need to have their flowering stems cut back. Wait until the birds have eaten their fill of the seeds but before new growth starts in the spring.

Yarrow will look better if spent flowering stalks are cut to the ground now. Cut back only the spent flowering stems of native buckwheats, not the branches.

Sages that have not yet started showing new buds can still be shaped, but do not cut into the woody branches.

Woody vines, as well as deciduous trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the winter, are also best pruned before new leaves emerge. Winter is a good time to bring wild grapevines under control. Without the leaves, it’s easier to see the form of the plant and, when it’s young, shape it. For specimen shrubs and large trees, either hire a professional arborist or leave them alone. Beginners can practice on wild rose and mock orange.

Coyote brush, though evergreen, is another good winter project for beginners. It grows fast, tolerates a great deal of pruning and shaping, and has even been used for topiaries.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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