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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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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