Wed05062015

News

LASD, city move toward land discussions

The ice may be thawing a bit as the Los Altos School District and the city of Los Altos consider resurrecting discussions on the potential use of public land as a school site.

The city voted to discontinue conversations about civic land with the sch...

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Schools

Mental health expert dispels myths

Mental health expert dispels myths


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto University Professor Paul Marcille addresses a crowd of psychology students and mental health activists last week about myths surrounding mental illness and violence.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandy Hook Elementa...

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Community

Q&A: Meet the city's new public works and administrative services directors

The city of Los Altos has hired three new department directors in the past ten months. The Town Crier recently profiled new Recreation Director Manny Hernandez. This week, the Town Crier profiles Susana Chan, new public works director, and Kim Juran-...

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Comment

Familiar icon pops up in Los Altos: A Piece of My Mind

I was walking to my car parked on State Street when my eye fell on an old familiar acquaintance from my early childhood, totally unexpected to meet in Los Altos. It was the “Steinway” logo over the door of the new Steinway Piano Gallery,...

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Special Sections

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Teaspoon, the milk tea shop at Village Court in Los Altos, above, serves a range of bubble teas and snow ice drinks, right.

Los Altos made it onto the milk tea map this spring with the opening of Teaspoon, a new bubble tea ...

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Business

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing


Alicia Castro/ Town Crier
C2 Los Altos tutor Max Shih, left, instructs Homestead High School student Rajesh Suresh.

Los Altos families have a new resource for helping their children ace the test.

C2 Los Altos – a recently opened education cente...

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Books

People

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

9/17/1918-4/15/2015

Dorothy Puder died on April 15th in Sunnyvale, California. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving, positive and caring ways and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

 PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View

PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View


Lyn Flaim/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” includes, from left, Sophia Graziani (of Los Altos) as Winnifred, Chris Gough (Sunnyvale) as the Prince and Reilly Arena (Palo Alto) as the Queen. ...

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Spiritual Life

Mercifully in His grip: Exploring our true position in Christ

I recently read a wonderful analogy about our true position in Christ. It was shockingly contrary to the messages impressed upon me in church, but deeply rooted in the Bible. The analogy is that of child and a parent. If you have ever taken a small ...

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Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Time to go: Success through succession planting


Photo By: COURTESY OF KELLY BOWMAN GREENWOOD
Photo Courtesy Of Kelly Bowman Greenwood

To extend the life of garden plants, monitor the amount of water they receive. Controlling water can be far more important to their health and longevity than any type of amendment or pest control.

Maintaining your garden design may involve ripping out that giant lavender you’ve loved for years and replacing it with exactly the same thing.

Yes, you read that right.

Here in California, where we garden with an array of perennials, many garden favorites have a shelf life. There’s really no exact expiration date marked on that lavender, but if it’s been in your garden more than five years and it’s looking tired and woody, that’s because it is.

Replanting

If you have a well-organized garden and love the role that favorite plant plays, there’s no need to rethink your design plan. Just recycle that puppy on the compost heap and plant a new little one from a 4-inch pot or 1-gallon container in the same spot. Your neighbors replace their beds of water-loving annual pansies or petunias every year. Your perennials create a much longer-lasting and potentially more waterwise flower border, but at some point, they need to be replaced, too.

Annuals are exactly what they sound like – plants that live one year. Woody shrubs are generally much longer-lived, 10-100 years, depending on the plant type. Perennials are flowering plants that tend to fall somewhere in between, in the three- to 10-year range.

So the first order of business is to know what the plant is and the role it plays in your overall design. If you don’t know what it is, identify it so that you know its typical lifespan.

Guilt-free gardening

There are many things you can influence in your garden with amendments, but age is not among them. Many plants adapted to Mediterranean, summer-dry climates like ours in the Bay Area have survived because they have short lifespans and can reproduce quickly. They just keep pushing out flowers until the rains stop.

Except now, thanks to irrigation, they don’t.

That means knowing when to fold is a key part of California gardening. Having appropriate expectations for the life cycle of your plant makes it easier to part with it when it’s time. And timely replacement of perennials can be an important element of maintaining the design of your garden. It might be helpful to think of them as the marathon runners of your garden.

Knowing when, or if, to feed

Generally speaking, most well-adapted perennials – especially dry California natives – do not want to be fed. This would be akin to sitting your lanky marathon runner down at an all-you-can-eat buffet, where the vegetable of the day is broccoli cheese casserole. If you want them to make it through season after season, they need to run lean, on unamended soil.

In a garden setting, controlling the amount of water applied to plants can be far more important to their health and longevity than any type of amendment or pest control.

Mediterranean plants are adapted to going days, sometimes weeks, without water during the summer. If you give them a little extra, they’re going to be thrilled and will continue to bloom for you, long past the time when they might naturally have gone dormant. Give them a lot, and they’re going to go into overload. Watch your plants carefully through mid-spring and early summer. If those tall, waving perennials start to relax to the ground, they’re getting too much water, which will kill them sooner (due to rot) or later (from overgrowth).

If you don’t have time to think about your garden water, purchase a smart controller with soil sensors or a weather station to control your watering schedule. Otherwise, your eyes and your fingers are the best judge of plant health and soil moisture. Dial your irrigation timing and frequency up or down throughout the season to respond to the weather and the condition of your plants.

Identifying the age problem

If a plant is overwhelmed by pests, it’s probably not the right match for its place. If it’s wilting, diseased or showing signs of rot, age is likely not the problem. Research the problem or contact someone knowledgeable for help (such as the local UC Extension Master Gardeners) to fix the environmental conditions or determine a more appropriate plant with which to replace it.

On the other hand, if your valiant little perennial has performed beautifully but is now looking hollow in the middle, perhaps still attempting to bloom on one side, it simply may be at the end of its rope. If it shows no signs of infestation or disease and just looks stringy and pathetic after a few years, it’s perfectly appropriate to replace it with exactly the same thing.

Kelly Bowman Green has been designing Bay Area landscapes since 2002. She is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and has appeared on HGTV’s “Landscape Smart” and “Small Spaces, Big Style.” For more information, visit www.greenwoodlandscape.com.

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