Modern hacienda: Los Altos couple enjoy indoor-outdoor living

Photos by megan V. winslow/Town crier
The facade of the Markarian family’s Los Altos home, above, boasts Heath tile mosaic columns and a 9-foot trellis. The interior entryway, below, features the same Jerusalem tiles and a Douglas fir cathedral ceiling.

In their "modern" - not adobe - hacienda, there’s a touch of Mexico. And, just like the lyrics of that classic song, "harmony is everywhere."


Lawns and the drought

Courtesy of Astrid Gaiser
In this season of ongoing drought, homeowners can maintain a lawn using innovative irrigation systems.

Drought conditions are continuing, calling attention to one of the main potable water usages in residential areas: outdoor watering of lawns and ornamentals.


Wild foods: A new Age of Discovery

tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Some species of milkweed flowers are edible. Botanical explorer Joseph Simcox advises foragers to be sure to get a positive ID and check references before eating wild plants.

Last year, I ate lots of small, yellow, wild plums from a tree that the birds planted. Like most wild foods, these olive-size plums were much smaller and less sweet than a cultivated variety, such as the Santa Rosa plum developed by horticulturist Luther Burbank. It took a lot of time to collect them, but they made great desserts.


Shooting in the garden

tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Focus on interesting details, such as the chewed-on petals of this flower or its visitor. Taking a break to look at just one thing is like sitting on a bench in the garden after running around.

One of the new features at this year’s San Francisco Flower & Garden Show included the photo seminars. If you want to share snaps of your garden with distant friends and relatives, it helps to understand the 2D world of the camera.

Saxon Holt discussed the "meditative process of photography" and showed photos to illustrate the six lessons in his e-book "Think Like a Camera."


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 a mature specimen at an arboretum.

Arboriculture instructor Jocelyn Cohen summarized her pointers for pruning some common native shrubs - manzanita, ceanothus and toyon - during a presentation at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show last month.

"Be respectful and have fun," she advised. "Look to nature, mimic nature."


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