Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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