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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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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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