Wed05272015

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Planting is possible despite drought


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Wash the soilless mix off the root ball into the same container in which you have placed the clay soil from the planting hole. Remove at least an inch from the top and sides of the plant.

In this continuing drought, the dry season is not the best time to plant, but you can if you do it the right way. On the recent Going Native Garden Tour, I visited two gardeners in San Jose who have successfully planted dozens of natives in any season.

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Past meets present in Los Altos home


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Stephanie and Chris Dauer’s Los Altos home, above, looks like a quaint cottage but boasts many 21st century amenities on the inside.

The past and the present meld in the Cotswold-style home of Stephanie and Chris Dauer on University Avenue in Los Altos.

It looks as if it were lifted from a Beatrix Potter storybook because of its ivy-covered chimney and whimsical wavy cedar-shingle roof.

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Filoli in bloom: Historic estate hosts classes, events and tours


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Scenes from Filoli: The historic estate in Woodside is a welcoming sanctuary for visitors. The grounds offer a rotating display of seasonal flowers, a tranquil reflecting pool and paths that wend through the 16-acre English Renaissance garden.

Filoli, the historic country estate in Woodside, opened its doors earlier this month for the 2015 visitor season.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation site occupies 654 acres and includes a 36,000-square-foot Georgian country house and 16-acre English Renaissance garden.

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Tuscany meets Waikiki: Los Altos Hills couple build their dream house


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Sara Weber and Victor Martina’s Los Altos Hills home features brick from a 100-year-old building in San Jose artistically combined with stucco to evoke a centuries-old feel. The lanai in the backyard adds a touch of Hawaiian hospitality.

The limestone fireplace in the grand entry of the Los Altos Hills home built by Sara Weber and Victor Martina is a hallmark of their endeavor.

Consider the discreet heart with their initials – just like on the trunk of a tree – that is carved into the base by master carver Bernard Renaud. It’s symbolic of the love and care that went into building their Old World-style home.

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Dealing with drought: Moisture Manager boosts conservation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The front yard of a Fairway Lawn Service customer on Chamisal Avenue in Los Altos remains green after using Moisture Manager.

With no end in sight to the California drought, Fairway Lawn Service owner Max Todd feared last fall that many of his customers would forgo their seasonal lawn aeration service.

“When it was time to begin our fall service, we were concerned because there had been no rain for months, and many water districts had asked residents to cut back on outdoor watering,” said Todd, a Los Altos native. “We wondered: What if many of our customers had cut back watering to the point that their lawns had died – what are we going to do then?”

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Butterflies provide moving smorgasbord


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Weedy areas in the yard may help butterflies. The Red Admiral butterfly uses stinging nettles as a host plant.

According to lepidopterist Liam O’Brien, 95 percent of butterflies are not pollinators. Instead, most pollination is accomplished by bees, wasps, flies and moths. Butterflies are “food for everyone else,” he said, a “moving smorgasbord.”

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What's the buzz on bee gardens?


Tanya Kucak/Town Crier
Bees sip nectar and collect blue-colored pollen from Tansy Phacelia a native annual typically grown from seed. As many as 21 bee species have been observed in a Phacelia patch.

The next time you’re in a native garden, notice what catches your attention. Is it colors and shapes, or is it the movement among the plants?

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