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

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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.

Not your mother's wallpaper

Courtesy of Amy Kopp
Wallpaper can change the energy in a room, whether it features a more subtle pattern or a bold design.

When I started in the interior design business, wallcoverings had been making a comeback for several years. I remember showing grasscloth samples to a client, hoping to transform her ordinary dining room into something fabulous.

She mentioned her parents had just stripped grasscloth from the den they had papered in the 1970s, feeling it was dated. It took a lot to convince her that she’d love the look, and the paper would feel fresh and current.

Migrating monarchs: Terraces at Los Altos residents offer refuge with native garden

Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Gary Cooper inspects a Cleveland sage plant in the new butterfly garden at The Terraces at Los Altos. Cooper, along with Bill Fanning and Claire Taylor, recently created the garden.

Every so often, there’s an uproar from Los Altos residents about flight paths over the area. But there’s one flight path no one will complain about – that of the monarch butterfly.

In fact, residents of The Terraces at Los Altos are providing a small reprieve for the butterflies on the insects’ 2,000-mile journey to Mexico.

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