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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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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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Autumn stunners brighten the garden year-round


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Select Mattole Hummingbird Fuchsia is a lower-growing mounding variety that looks a bit less delicate than other varieties.

If the only native plants you know are the ones you’ve seen on spring garden tours, you’re missing out. Although spring is the peak wildflower season, some of the most stunning and colorful plants don’t start blooming until midsummer and keep going until frost.

The most widely planted of the autumn stunners is Hummingbird Fuchsia, which comes in several varieties. Most exhibit flowers in the red-orange palette and foliage that ranges from gray-green to blue-green and silvery gray. You can also find white and pale-pink flowers. Some varieties can be 3 feet tall and a little floppy, while others grow only a foot or two. Select Mattole is the lowest-growing variety, with foliage and flowers less wispy looking than the other species, and it forms a neater clump.

True to its name, Hummingbird Fuchsia attracts hummingbirds. I can count on hearing the telltale whir of an approaching hummer whenever I’m in my garden in the fall. I haven’t seen the kind of territorial challenges that I’ve witnessed with Hummingbird Sage, but if you want to see hummingbirds, plant one of these.

Hummingbird Fuchsia tends to spread by underground runners, so you can expect each plant to spread at least 3 feet wide. It’s easy to rein in and not a thug, however. On the bright side, if you have a small garden, you can carefully pot up your extras and share them. To keep this perennial compact and floriferous, prune established plants to a couple of inches high in the winter.

Hummingbird Fuchsia is drought tolerant but manages occasional water well. I have a clump growing next to my purple potato patch and my summer squash plants under a perennial kale that gets regular water, and the fuchsia does not mind the extra moisture.

Fellow fall-blooming, drought-tolerant perennials include blue- to lavender-flowered California Aster and bright-yellow California Goldenrod and Gum Plant. All of these also tolerate varying amounts of garden water. Like the California Fuchsia, they may extend their bloom time in a particularly hot, dry summer if they get a little extra water.

Many native buckwheats in shades from off-white to pale and deep pinks also bloom from summer into fall. Some of their flowers may senesce into russet tones as the season progresses.

The Gum Plant and most of the buckwheats tend to boast strong stems, but the goldenrod and aster can flop over if they are not supported. Depending on your garden style, you may want to let the plants mingle and support each other, or you may want to provide stakes or supports.

For fragrance, the highlight of autumn is annual tarweeds. These tall, branched sunflower relatives sport sticky stems that when touched offer a pleasant resinous aroma. The daisylike flowers are bright yellow, often with a maroon blotch at the base of each petal.

Later in the season, you may get some fall color from deciduous native trees. The delicate leaves of the Vine Maple can turn rosy shades.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . n

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