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News

Spooktacular moved indoors


Due to rain, today's downtown Los Altos Halloween activities have been moved to the indoor courtyard of Play! at 170 State St. Enter from the back on the parking lot side to participate in crafts, games and fun. Activities continue until 4 p.m.

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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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

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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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

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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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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Take a low-tech approach to propagating natives


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Monkeyflower, currant and ceanothus cuttings are ready to go in the shade, once the leaves have been trimmed back a bit more.

When he was starting out and couldn’t afford to buy an entire truckload of plants, Alan Hackler would purchase one $10 plant in a 1-gallon container and then divide it into 10 or 20 plants.

At a the annual Gardening with Natives seed and cutting exchange, Hackler discussed propagating native plants. Now the owner of the landscaping company Bay Maples, Hackler demonstrated how a 1-gallon container of such common natives as yarrow, heuchera, hummingbird sage and Douglas iris could be divided into multiple plants. Each “fan” of Douglas iris, for instance, can be planted separately and will eventually grow into a mature plant. The more experience you have, he said, the more plants you can tease out of a clump and grow successfully into a size that’s ready to plant in your garden.

November to February is the perfect time for propagating many plants, Hackler said. During the cool, rainy season, it’s easier to keep the plants shaded, happy and alive. Natives such as salvias and monkeyflower benefit from minimal meddling, and this is the ideal time of year to set them aside and let them be.

Unlike some propagators, Hackler does not use rooting hormone when he takes cuttings. Manzanitas will take five to six months to produce viable starts whether you use rooting hormone or not, he said.

Hackler emphasized a low-tech approach that echoes my own experience. He suggested taking semiwoody cuttings, rather than softwood cuttings, because they will root more easily with minimal care. Softwood cuttings will root faster, he said, but only if they are coddled in a greenhouse with a heat mat underneath and regular misting from above.

To take a cutting, trim each section just below the lowest leaf node, then strip the bottom half of all leaves. Place the cutting in a container of prepared potting soil, and cut off flowers, fruits and part of the leaves. The plant will grow new roots from the leaf nodes that are underneath the soil. Cutting away flowers and fruit enables the new plant to devote all of its resources to growing new roots, rather than trying to mature its seed. Trimming the leaves both minimizes moisture loss and allows more cuttings to fit into a pot, Hackler said.

Let the soil dry out between waterings. The easiest and fastest way to check whether a pot of cuttings needs water, he said, is to pick up the container and see how heavy it is.

Yerba buena is fussy to propagate from cuttings, according to Hackler, so he suggested anchoring a long stem to the soil with a rock. The stem will grow roots where it touches the soil.

This is also a great time of year to divide bulbs, he added. Soaproot offshoots, for instance, won’t flower unless they are separated from the main plant. Peel back the thick layers surrounding the root to separate the offshoots.

At least a dozen people brought plant material from their gardens to the exchange, and everyone was encouraged to take whatever they could use. Post a reminder on your calendar and join us next year.

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

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