Mon09222014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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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

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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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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Juicy plants add drama to the garden


Photo By: Courtesy of Laxmi Natarajan
Photo Courtesy Of Laxmi Natarajan

Succulents that vary in shape and color are ideal for use as vertical art pieces in the garden.

The dictionary defines the word “succulent” as “juicy or with fleshy water-storing parts.”

Succulent plants store water in their leaves. They are used to growing in dry and arid climates where there is less rainfall and therefore become drought tolerant. There are thousands of succulent varieties, and a large number of them are adapted to the Bay Area climate.

Succulents can bring style, elegance and drama to any garden. Often, people think of cactus when discussing succulents, but that is only half the story. Although all cacti belong to the succulent family, not all succulents are cacti or have scales or spines instead of leaves.

Succulents may appear smooth, rosette-shaped, swirly, rounded or in many different forms. Easy to propagate and grow, they are hardy and require little maintenance.

Most succulents do not respond well to overwatering. They do well in bright light but not too much direct sunlight. Under an arbor or an eave, closer to the patio or somewhat protected areas are ideal for most succulents. A gentle slope or hillside provides a great canvas for succulent plants, as the water tends to drain naturally. From hedges that need structural plants to perennial beds and container plants, succulents can be used in a multitude of ways in the garden.

Suitable succulents

Following is a rundown of hardy succulents suitable for the area to get you started in the garden.

• One of the most widely used plant genuses is the Sempervivum, which means “live forever” in Latin. An old superstition exists about a fire that destroyed every house in a village except one. When the king went to the lone house standing, he discovered that the houseleeks, also known as hens and chicks, grew so densely on the rooftop and in the garden that they stopped the fire from spreading inside. Sempervivum is planted for good luck, to ward off evil and safeguard homes.

• Hens and chicks – a perennial succulent native to southern Europe, North America and western Asia – comes in all different sizes, shapes and colors. These low-growing perennials spread to fill bare spots in the garden, which makes them ideal as groundcovers. They are also great in rock gardens and containers. The mother plant, the hen, will produce numerous baby plants around the base, like chicks. The chicks, which can be repotted or left alone to grow in a cluster, will propagate as well.

• Sedum, sometimes referred to as stonecrop, is a large genus that likes to grow on rocky terrain. Sedum spectabile, a very attractive variety, is a perennial succulent that attracts butterflies. Leaves are bluish green and 3 feet long. Sedum morganianum (donkey tail, burro tail) has long stems that appear to be braided. These are attractive in hanging baskets or tall containers. Sedum rubrotinctum (Pork and Beans) is a fun addition to any garden.

• Crassulas are a large genus with many varieties, most originally from South Africa. The common jade Crassula ovate, found everywhere, is very hardy. It can grow in a container for years and naturally becomes a bonsai if it is pot bound. Another interesting plant to check out is the Crassula perforata, which has a leaf pattern with a pagodalike formation. Crassula arborescens (Silver jade) features flat oval leaves that are light gray, edged with burgundy or dark red. They tend to add a lot of color and glow in the light.

• Echeveria, a predominantly rosette-shaped succulent with a tight leaf formation, comes in various shades of green and are prized for their pink, coral and red blooms as well. Some of them, like Echeveria ‘Afterglow,’ have ruffled leaves and are quite dramatic. An all-time star is Echeveria agavoides ‘Lipstick,’ which sports stiff, lime-green leaves and crimson tips.

• Aloes and agaves are used heavily in landscapes. Aloe vera, a medicinal plant from the lily family, is a perennial evergreen that is very drought tolerant. It has grayish green leaves up to 18 inches long. They boast small offset rosettes as well as yellow flowers in the winter/spring season on stalks.

Agaves may grow to be very large and live for years. They need very little care and can thrive in poor soil and even deal with frost. Agave americana and Agave americana ‘Marginata’ are often found on hillsides.

• Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ is a colorful addition to any landscape. The drought-tolerant Aptenia cordifolia features hardy, colorful red blooms that make a wonderful groundcover. Kalanchoes are ideal for adding a splash of bloom color in containers.

Many of these succulents can be planted with drought-tolerant companion perennial plants in home gardens. They add a layer of texture, form and color to the plant palette.

For a modern touch, use succulents to create vertical living walls in the garden. Other popular uses for succulents include planting them in open terraria or using them in floral (cut succulents) and flora (living plant) arrangements to add elegance and sophisticated chic to all occasions.

Succulents are easy to grow and fun to use. Their low-maintenance, drought-tolerant architectural form and varied shapes, textures and colors make them an ideal addition to the garden.

Laxmi Natarajan is a designer at Bagicha Garden and Flora Design and a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, call 703-9756 or visit www.bagicha.com. d

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