Using foliage to welcome wildlife into the garden

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Anchor Bay ceanothus, with gently arching stems and blue flowers in spring, is a dense groundcover that is well adapted to gardens.

For some people, excluding and discouraging deer is the focus of their gardening. For Joe and Lisa Mitchell, welcoming deer to part of their Los Altos Hills garden was part of the plan.

The Mitchells installed a wildlife gate at one end of the property to control access and planted that part of the garden with deer-tolerant plants. A recirculating fountain serves as a water source for the deer, and future plans include a meadow and sheltered areas where deer can bed down.

Los Altos Hills couple transform courtyard into 'dry landscape' garden

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Inspired by the Zen temple of Ryoan-ji in Kyoto, Los Altos Hills residents Andrea and Harald Batista created a replica in the courtyard of their Mediterranean-style home.

Perhaps the next best thing to visiting the garden at the Zen temple of Ryoan-ji in Kyoto is creating a replica in your own backyard.

Andrea and Harald Batista did just that, transforming the courtyard of their Mediterranean-style home in Los Altos Hills into a scaled-down version of the garden at Ryoan-ji, also called the Temple of the Dragon at Peace.

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio contains myriad projects in process, such as an Alice in Wonderland chess set, below right.

You see it teetering on the mantel but can’t get to it before it falls. You hear the unwelcome and unmistakable sound of breaking glass as it smashes on the floor. But before you get out the superglue and try to repair your heirloom porcelain vase or Tang Dynasty horse sculpture, give Rho Brown a call.

With natural artistic talent, an eye for what goes where and years of training, Brown is a conservator – a restorer – of art objects.

Outdoor kitchens provide an extension of the home

Courtesy of Lisa Parramore
This outdoor kitchen and gathering space, left, offers a cozy spot to enjoy the smells wafting from the pizza oven.

Part of what makes living in the Bay Area such a delight is its mild, temperate climate. More and more homeowners view their outdoor spaces as an extension of their homes and desire amenities that will enable them to prepare a meal, relax and entertain in style.

The benefits of welcoming garden allies

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Using conservation biological control requires some tolerance of chewed leaves and aphid clusters, because the garden needs a large enough population of “food” to attract the beneficials in the first place and keep them in the garden.

Let’s get the word “pest” out of our vocabulary, counseled Frederique Lavoipierre in her presentation on “Hedgerows: Connecting the Dots” at a native plant symposium last fall in Los Altos Hills. She is director of education at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

How to handle a catastrophe when it hits home

It is quite unnerving when catastrophic damage occurs to a home. A catastrophic event could include a fire, a flood, a runaway car or a tree falling on the roof.

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