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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Many plants thrive without soil


Courtesy of Laxmi Natarajan
Tillandsias are plants that take their nutrients through the air, not via dirt like regular plants.

The sight of a delicate green plant with a colorful bloom in a small hanging terrarium always catches my guests’ eyes - it’s a guaranteed conversation starter. On closer look, however, they notice that there is no soil in the terrarium and wonder whether the plants are living or artificial. It is an introduction for most to the genus Tillandsia.

Linnaeus established the genus Tillandsia in the 1700s and named it after Swedish botanist Elias Tillands.

Tillandsias take their nutrients through their leaves and need only air, water and light - no soil - hence they are also known as Air Plants. Epiphytes - plants that grow on other plants (such as trees) nonparasitically, or sometimes on some other object - derive their moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere, rain and sometimes the debris accumulating around them. Air Plants are epiphytes. Found in Central and South America, Mexico, the southern U.S. and the tropics, they are fascinating, low-maintenance plants that bloom with bright flowers. Members of the Bromeliad family, they usually sprout little pups on the side as the mother plant dies down.

Indoor and outdoor displays

Tillandsias are very popular for mounting because of their fantastic form and texture. They are small and grow slowly, making them easy to manage and maintain.

They can be attached to anything: a branch or twig of grape or Manzanita, a slab of wood, a coconut shell or driftwood. Choose a mount that will not disintegrate under the existing conditions.

Attach the plant with waterproof adhesives such as Liquid Nails, Goop or silicone sealer, available in hardware and home stores. The plant must be held in place until the glue hardens. A hot glue gun is the fastest and safest method if the plant is attached a few seconds after the glue has cooled. Sheet or Sphagnum Moss pressed around the plant and into the glue will present a more natural appearance. Nylon monofilament - fishing line - that is nearly invisible can also secure the plants.

The roots of these plants are tough, weather resistant and can be used to attach it to the substrate. Do not attach the plant by its leaves. When the leaves die, the plant will detach.

If the plant has no roots, tie it or wire it rather than fasten it with an adhesive. If the area around the base is damp but not wet, most Tillandsias will produce roots. Constant wetness at the base of the plant can cause rot.

Care of Tillandsias

Plants can be sprayed or misted daily, but the easiest way to water is to plunge the plant once a week into a container of water to which a Bromeliad Fertilizer 17-8-22 is added and let it soak five minutes to an hour or so. Drain or shake off excess water after removing the plant from its bath. Water trapped in the plant can cause rot.

Tillandsias must dry completely between waterings - they cannot breathe through a wet leaf surface.

When the mother plant blooms and dies, Tillandsia collections grow for decades because of the propagation of the pups. The plants continue to provide gardening gratification indoors and out.

Laxmi Natarajan, a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, is a garden and interiorscape designer at Bagicha Garden & Flora Design. For more information, call 703-9756 or visit bagicha.com. n

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