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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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