Keeping rainwater in the garden

Tanya Kucak/ Special to the Town Crier
The maroon flowers of spicebush boast an interesting winey fragrance. Native to moist places, spicebush is a large, deciduous shrub that provides good wildlife cover.

Native plants can handle lots of rain in the winter months, as long as they’re not in standing water. In fact, the “drought-tolerant” ones do better after a normal rainy season. That’s because many natives use winter rains to develop strong root systems. 

Hilltop haven: Couple design dream home on slope

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The kitchen is the focal point of Jim and Julia Lovin’s great room, above. The “J”-shaped island features a lively tile mosaic on its base.

Building a house on a steep slope was not on their radar.

Julia and Jim Lovin, who were living in Cupertino at the time, were looking for a house to remodel, something they could imbue with an Eichler-like ambience. They had better luck finding a compatible architect than they did finding a house.

Tips for storing holiday decorations efficiently & accessibly

Courtesy of Amanda Kuzak
Slotted ornament boxes are worth splurging on because they provide good protection for delicate ornaments.


It’s time to pack up the garlands and lights now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is behind us.

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides seasonal decorating service

Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Amy Fischer of Spectrum Interior Design decorated Los Altos resident Katie Beers’ living room for the holidays last week.

Don’t worry if you have no time to shop for unique holiday decor, decorate Christmas trees, make garlands and untangle and hang the outside lights. Spectrum Interior Design can do it all.

As an offshoot of their year-round design services, Amy Fischer and her staff at Spectrum Interior Design in Los Altos offer full holiday installations. After a preliminary consultation, Fischer arrives to transform the home from everyday comfort to seasonal splendor.

Journaling: Connection with nature can bring happiness and health

Tanya Kucak/ Special to the Town Crier
Looking with deliberate attention at a simple flower, like this blazing star, can enhance appreciation of its complexities and stimulate curiosity, two objectives of nature journaling.

Much research has found “connections between going out in nature and being a happy, joyful person,” according to naturalist John Muir Laws, who spoke this month in Los Altos at the annual meeting of the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

Awaken garden curiosity through unique gift ideas

Tanya Kucak/ Special to the Town Crier
Those interested in observing or sketching a patch of Island Pink yarrow are bound to discover a variety of tiny beneficial insects visiting the flowers.

Whatever your age or level of expertise, gardens offer a way to broaden and deepen your knowledge, whether you travel far and wide or go only as far as your own backyard. Likewise, the best garden-related gifts are those that are not simply things, but involve experiences or introduce people to an entirely new world they may not have discovered on their own. 

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