Sat10252014

News

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

Election flyer mimics newspaper coverage

A flyer is being distributed across Los Altos that looks like it is from the Los Altos Town Crier but was neither created nor distributed by the community’s weekly newspaper. The flyer, pictured at right, is being distributed by workers from Pyrami...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

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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