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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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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

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

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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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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