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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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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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