Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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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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