Planning year-round blooms

Coral bells” width=
Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
In the spring, coral bells enliven shadier areas in the garden.

In our dry summer climate, it’s easy to have a garden that conserves water – bursting into color with the winter rains and then becoming considerably less dramatic as the year progresses. However, there are ecological, as well as aesthetic, reasons to include plants that bloom throughout the year. 

Add summer entertaining to the menu


LAUREN EDITH ANDERSON/Special to the Town Crier
Although entertaining at home isn’t as popular as it once was, columnist Celeste Randolph believes it is a custom that deserves to return.

While sitting lazily in my friend’s inviting and fresh white kitchen with views of her French-inspired garden recently, I told her how much I loved drinking tea and spending time with her in her home. She replied that few people entertain at home anymore.

Statistics do show that entertaining at home is on the decline. In 2012, The New York Times declared the act of hosting guests at home “endangered” and published an article about the death of the dinner party by Guy Trebay titled “Guess Who Isn’t Coming to Dinner.”

Taking a closer look at a healthy garden


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
A lady beetle, the iconic beneficial, patrols a manzanita in early spring, almost blending into the manzanita berries.

The more closely you look at a healthy garden, the more likely you are to notice the plethora of insects and spiders that keep it in balance. Take a close-up picture of a flower, and when you look at the photo on a bigger screen, don’t be surprised if someone you hadn’t noticed is lurking.

A healthy garden needs beneficial insects and spiders to pollinate, control insects that damage plants and aid decomposition. Of the million species of insects, approximately 99% are beneficial or benign.

The many lives of a historic Grande Dame of Los Altos

725 University Avenue” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The two-story shingled Craftsman bungalow at 725 University Ave. is on the city of Los Altos’ list of historic resources. Completed circa 1911, the house still features many original architectural details, including coffered ceilings and divided-light windows.

The lady has good bones. She’s referred to as a “Grande Dame of Los Altos” and with good reason.

The house at 725 University Ave. was built for the Keatinge family and completed in 1911. Since then, a number of families have called the house home. Today, the city of Los Altos designates the house a historic resource of local significance.

Native habitat's ripple effect


Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Manzanitas bloom in winter, offering pollen and nectar for early-emerging bumblebees. They offer leaves for larvae as well, and support a wide range of pollinators, including butterflies.

If you’re frustrated by habitat loss and climate change, and wonder if there’s anything you can do about it, there is – you can create habitat.

Plant native plants that support native pollinators, beneficial insects and birds in your neighborhood.

Wollerton Old Hall rose is a fragrant highlight


Julia Isaac/Special to the Town Crier
The Wollerton Old Hall rose is one of the most fragrant of all English roses.

I still remember the moment I received an email last December from rose breeder David Austin’s family and learned that Austin had just passed away peacefully in his home at age 92.

A rose expert, Austin is to thank for bringing beauty to gardens worldwide. He bred more than 200 modern roses and is internationally known for his new types of fragrant, full-bodied English modern roses. He was named a “Great Rosarian of the World” in 2010.


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