Page 1

HMB

THE ANNUAL FALL FIX-UP ISSUE

HALF MOON BAY REVIEW

MAGAZINE

Fixingthe SEPTEMBER 2010

lighthouse Restoration of Pigeon Point landmark sheds light on home upkeep. p14

ALSO:

T DEALING WITH RUNOFF T BATTLING INVASIVE SPECIES

f

Q&A WITH

FISHERMAN RUSTY BORO BILL MURRAY


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HMB

» PUBLISHER’S NOTE DEBRA HERSHON

HALF MOON BAY REVIEW MAGAZINE

Publisher Debra Godshall Hershon Managing Editor Clay Lambert Writers Mark Noack Amy Julia Harris Lily Bixler Stacy Trevenon Photographer Lars Howlett Production and Design Bill Murray Matt Medeiros Mark Restani Business Office Kim Ritner Circulation Barbara Anderson Advertising Sales Louise Strutner Marilyn Johnson Barbara Dinnsen Pam Collins Find us P.O. Box 68 714 Kelly Avenue Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 p: (650) 726-4424 f: (650) 726-7054 The HMB Magazine is published on the first week of every month and inserted in the Half Moon Bay Review. The entire contents of the magazine are also available in PDF format online at hmbreview.com

Clean it out, fix it up, put some money in your pocket

F

or those of you who like scavenging for hidden treasures, this is your lucky month. For those who plan on doing a little fall “spring cleaning,” coincidentally, this is a good month for you, too. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, the city of Half Moon Bay will be holding its 11th annual Citywide Garage Sale. Half Moon Bay residents can sell their unwanted items during a garage sale at their own home, which the city will post at no charge along with other local garage sales, plotted together on one handy map. Last year, the event featured more than 100 registered sellers throughout the city of Half Moon Bay. Another big part of the Citywide Garage Sale is that Goodwill Industries, a non-profit organization, will be holding a collection event on the same day from 1 to 5 p.m. Items in good condition that are not sold at the garage sales may be donated to Goodwill. The trucks will be set up on Johnston Street between Kelly and Miramontes, behind City Hall. Goodwill Industries will also be collecting e-waste — computers, monitors and the like — so this is a good opportunity to unload some of those items as well. Last year, Goodwill collected 26,000 pounds of stuff from 113 individual donors -- stuff that may otherwise have ended up in a landfill. The Citywide Garage Sale is also timed to coincide with Allied Waste’s bulky item pickup. The company is scheduling its curbside pick up the following week. Registration for the Citywide Garage Sale is free, but act now; registration will close sometime in early September. Maps will be available online and featured in the Half Moon Bay Review on Sept. 22. A limited number will be available for pick up at City Hall, the Ted Adcock Community / Senior Center and the library. More information is available at www. hmbcity.com/garagesale or by calling the city’s recycling hotline at 726-8263. So clean out your closets and pass along all your reusable items. You’ll be helping out others in the community, the environment, and maybe make some money in the process.

HMB September 2010 3


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4 September 2010 HMB


» CONTENTS

The Fall Fix-Up Issue. 14 PAGE

PAGE 28

Features

9

Q&A: RUSTY BORO

Fisherman at Pillar Point Harbor talks about keeping his boat ship-shape

14

9 PAGE

Departments

7 UPCOMING EVENTS 35 DOWNTOEARTH 36 SIGHTSEEING

LIGHTHOUSE UPKEEP Challenges of repairing the West Coast’s tallest lighthouse.

20

HIGH AND DRY

Ways to deal with the runoff when the wet weather arrives.

28

RETURN OF THE NATIVES

Doing battle with invasive species in your back yard.

HMB

THE ANNUAL FALL FIX-UP ISSUE

HALF MOON BAY REVIEW

MAGAZINE

Fixingthe SEPTEMBER 2010

lighthouse Restoration of Pigeon Point landmark sheds light on home upkeep. p14

ALSO:

T DEALING WITH RUNOFF T BATTLING INVASIVE SPECIES

f

On the cover

Illustration by Bill Murray

Q&A WITH

FISHERMAN RUSTY BORO BILL MURRAY

HMB September 2010 5


A Bright Idea!

Thank you Recycling Partners! 6 September 2010 HMB


» UPCOMING EVENTS SEPTMEBER

Fall brings a fair in the forest Holy days

9/8

The Coastside Jewish community will celebrate the High Holy Days for the Jewish New Year 2010/5771 with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, including family services, vegetarian potlucks, music and reflection, through Sept. 18 at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church at 1500 Perez Drive in Pacifica. Tickets range from $150-$250 depending on if you are going to celebrations of one or both holidays; no one turned away for lack of funds. (650) 306-0328.

Touchdown!

9/10

Half Moon Bay High School hosts Scotts Valley in the first of six home football games this year. Frosh-soph play at 4 p.m. and the varsity game starts at 7 p.m. Half Moon Bay’s other home games are scheduled for Sept. 17, Oct. 8, Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and Nov. 12. There is an admission charge. 712-7200.

Strains of a Zephyr

9/12

Four noted classical musicians (Mack McCray, piano; Jennifer Culp, cello; Jodi Levitz, viola; Bettina Mussemeli, violin) form the Zephyr Festival Classical Quarter, performing at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. 726-4143.

A mountain of art 9/4 to 9/6 The 47th annual Kings Mountain Art Fair will fill the

serene forested trails around the community center at 13889 Skyline Blvd. with high-quality art and fine crafts by more than 130 juried artists from California and beyond and by fine artisans within its own “Mountain Folk Art” section. Presented with a mountain of volunteer effort, the fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days of Labor Day Weekend. Starting in 1963 when a handful of residents sold needlework in a local barn to support fire protection, the fair built a beautiful community center, supplied state-of-the-art fire equipment, supported the local school and community groups, and rallied the mountain folk in what has become one of the most notable art fairs in California. Each day begins with breakfast from 8 to 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the “Grill 56.” “Grandma Jenny’s” giant cookies are sold to benefit the school, and parents can browse while kids create their own art in the supervised “Kiddie Hollow.” In clear mountain air filled with the fragrance of redwood, juried and Mountain Folk artists alike offer fine paintings, ceramic arts, jewelry, textile art and clothing, glass, woodwork, leather, sculpture, photography and more, all to benefit the volunteer fire brigade, maintain the community center and local newsletter, support local youth and bring a mountain community together. (650) 851-2710.

Taste the coast

9/12

A no-host bar plus more than 30 local restaurants offer their specialties for sampling to benefit Senior Coastsiders from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sea Crest School gym, 901 Arnold Way, Half Moon Bay. Tickets $50 until Sept. 10; $60 after that, and $30/seniors. 726-9056.

Network with your representatives

9/16

From 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Cypress Meadows at 343 Cypress Blvd. in Moss Beach, mingle with elected officials and local candidates at this “Network at Night” presented by the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau. The event is for chamber members and the general public. Free. 726-8380.

Hope after tragedy

9/17

A Pulitzer Prize-winning story of a family seeking balance after their world has been upended by tragedy, along with warmth, wit and healing, makes up the stage drama “Rabbit Hole” offered by Coastal Repertory Theatre at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 9. Tickets are $15 to $30. 569-3266.

HMB September 2010 7


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8 September 2010 HMB


Keepingyour home-away-from-home Q&A

afloat

Interview by Amy Julia Harris Photos by Lars Howlett

Fall is the time to fix up your house, but what if you spend most of your time on your boat? Rusty Boro, a salmon and crab fisherman at Pillar Point Harbor, is an old hand when it comes to boats. He’s been fishing for more than 30 years and says that maintaining his fishing boat, Bebe, is a trial every year. He talked to Review reporter Amy Julia Harris about what it takes to keep a boat afloat year-round and some of the repair challenges that fishermen are facing this year. See Page 11 for the conversation.

Diana Gil-Osorio HMB September 2010 9


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Q&A

Could you tell us about some of the repairs people should be making each year? “Well, you should haul-out every year. We used to have a haul-out yard here but now you have to take the boat to Santa Cruz, Moss Landing or San Francisco. You also should change the zincs, paint the bottom of the boat, and do whatever you can. The more you keep a boat maintained, the easier it is to keep a boat maintained.” What are some challenges fishing boats like yours face when it comes to repairs? “Well, there’s just no money for repairs. If you can’t keep fishing, you can’t maintain a boat properly. It’s true that some of the prettiest boats in this harbor aren’t the hardest working boats.” How expensive is maintenance? “My last haul-out was ten grand. Most of the time they’re about $2,500 to $3,000, but I needed some welding on the bottom of my boat. My zincs used to only go two-and-a-half years and they’d be all worn. There are about eight zincs on the boat. So this last time around I went two-and-a-half years and they were totally gone. So it was eating part of the boat away because the zinc was gone. This harbor has gotten really hot over the years.” So where does most of the wear-and-tear come from? “The ocean is always moving — the currents come in and out. Metal in salt water creates current. So what happens is the rust and the corrosion starts from the weakest metal. Zinc is the weakest metal so normally it’s supposed to eat zinc first and then the metal. So when the zinc’s gone, it eats the metal. And if there’s no zinc, the next is steel. It works its way up the list.”

So things like zincs and haul-outs are annual fixes. What about other repairs? “Not all repairs are things you can see. Stainless never rusts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get weak. Stainless has a shelf life of 10 years, but not many people know that. Bolts on my boat are stainless steel, and you’d never know they were old. You could have a stainless steel boat break in half, but you won’t see any rust on it. So whereas with a rusted boat, you know it’s time to change it, you’ll never know about this.” What are the different types of boats and what’s the easiest type to maintain? “Fiberglass boats are the best because all you have to do is wash them off with soap and water. Maybe once every six months, you wax them, and they look brand-new. Wood boats, on the other hand, have to be hauled out, repainted, refastened. They’re a lot of work too. Steel boats, once the rust comes, you have to grind the rust off, prime it, start over again. Each rust spot here has to be ground down to bare metal, primed and then started over again. This has to be ground off. It’s tough.” Are you planning lots of repairs for this fall? “Normally, I used to haul-out every two years, but now maybe I’m going to haul-out in December. During crab season when it slows down, I’ll haul-out again. This boat used to look real good years ago. I just don’t have enough time. My wife hasn’t been in my cabin in nine years (laughs). But here’s the deal. I put three kids through college and my boat went to hell. But now my kids are all grown up, they all have good jobs, and the boat is still going to hell (laughs).” 1

HMB September 2010 11


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Lighthouse illuminates lessons for home upkeep

14 September 2010 HMB


a trip up Pigeon Point’s spiral staircase lights up repair tips for us all By LILy BIXLEr PHOTOS By LarS HOWLETT

S

tanding at the western edge of Pigeon Point Lighthouse, amid fog thick as split pea soup, California Department of Parks and Recreation Superintendent Paul Keel looks up at the thrashed siding of the towering lighthouse. “Nothing lasts out here,” he says. Keel makes his way over to unlock the chainlink fence that has kept the public out of the lighthouse since a Christmas storm in 2001 gnawed at the coast and ripped out several strips of belt course supporting the lighthouse. At 115 feet from base to top, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. It’s one of less than a dozen remaining lighthouses in the Bay Area, and the National Register of Historic Places recognizes it as one of five historic lighthouses in the country. But its paint is peeling, a year-old door is already rusting and the roofing on the adjacent fog signal house is beginning to show wear and tear from salty winds. A fixture on the Coastside, the lighthouse is a nostalgic indicator of times long ago and a disenchanting reminder of budget woes: A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee recently recommended a quarter-million dollars be spent fixing up

HMB September 2010 15


Left, docent Judy Pfeil stands between two pieces of the belt course that fell from the top of the lighthouse in 2001. At right, as State Parks Superintendent Paul Keel climbs the iron staircase, interior decay becomes more visible as the walls get thinner toward the top.

“(The lighthouse’s history) is part of what we’re trying to interpret — it’s part of the story we’re trying to tell.” Paul Keel, State Parks superintendent

16 September 2010 HMB

Pigeon Point, but the funds amount to just drops in the bucket for the $8 million to $9 million needed to do the job. One reason for this price tag is that State Parks, one of the agencies working on the project, must maintain the lighthouse and ultimately restore it to its historical glory. In time it will eventually be reopened to the public. “(The lighthouse’s history) is part of what we’re trying to interpret — it’s part of the story we’re trying to tell,” Keel said. “Why taint what these old craftsmen did?” But striking the balance between practical maintenance and historical restoration has proven to be quite a feat. Although most homeowners don’t have to bother with preserving their homes to such historical standards, the lighthouse has lessons to teach Coastsiders about regular household upkeep. To that end, the modern-day keepers of the captivating lighthouse agreed to open Pigeon Point’s rusty doors and wind up her steep, spiraling steps to share some of her secrets.

Roofing fit for a king (storm): Before ascending the lighthouse, we take in several buildings on the outskirt of the tower: a fog siren building, a keeper’s station and several buildings that now serve as a hostel. These buildings must also contend with gusty winds and salty air. Of particular concern is keeping the buildings’ roofs intact. Caring for the buildings is, “like keeping up a boat,” said Jeff Parry who tends the hostel. He struggles to find adequate material that will withstand the prevailing wind. One tip he’s picked up — a tip that might be of use to homeowners on the coast — is using five nails instead of three to secure the slabs of roofing. Good windows can make all the difference: Scaling the circular staircase up to the lantern room, Judy Pfeil, who was a docent at Pigeon Point Lighthouse for more than 13 years, points out the new windows. Replacing all the


Top, a peek out a doorway shows views from the top that awed tourists until tours ended nearly 10 years ago. At right, wear and tear to the structure is visible everywhere. Volunteer Judy Pfeil notes a piece of the doorway that has sprung and attempts to pound it back into place.

windows cost $50,000, but she explains it was worth it because the windows — with frames made from old redwood that grew nearby — keep moisture out of the building. Since installing the new windows, Pfeil points out, it even smells differently inside the lighthouse. What a Fresnel lens teaches about window cleaning With few other lighthouses in the country still housing their original lenses, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is renowned for its first-order Fresnel lens. Pfeil explained that the lighthouse keeper used to wash all 1,008 separate pieces of glass with a homemade cleaning solution. What’s in this magic formula? Simply two-thirds water, one-third rubbing alcohol and a drop of Woolite mixed together in a spray bottle. With the damp coastal climate, the alcohol in this recipe helps dry up the excess moisture for a clean finish. Don’t skimp on painting Pfeil advises homeowners to stay on top of painting — and to do it right by adequately prepping the surface. On the tiptop tier of the lighthouse, on the walls encasing the Fresnel lens, Pfeil points out places where the paint is peeling back from the wall. In other places, rust bleeds from the walls. The lighthouse hasn’t been fully painted since 1992 when the Coast Guard ceased overseeing its maintenance. “Don’t take short cuts,” with painting, Pfeil said matter-of-factly. “We certainly didn’t!” Keel laughs, hinting at all the work that’s gone into this costly undertaking. 1 HMB September 2010 17


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Staying high and dry when wet weather arrives On the coast, preparing for storms is a must

By Mark Noack

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inter rains were once an annual headache for Half Moon Bay resident Don Carey. The retired contractor would get water running from his neighbor’s home to his own backyard. It formed puddles and flowed down his driveway. So when the 59-year-old redesigned his backyard six months ago, he knew he needed a new system to drain water. Instead of expanding his cement driveway, he went for a more permeable substance — grass. He laid out a sheet of porous plastic underneath the spot where he laid his grass sod, and now his front lawn doubles as his driveway. Carey now regularly parks his work truck up on his lawn, and any rain that comes just gets absorbed straight into

20 September 2010 HMB


Rain barrels are a quick and easy way to reduce runoff and water usage. Just save water from wet days for dry spells.

the dirt. “It makes sense to collect as much water on your property as you can,” he said. Any homeowner who has dealt with leaky gutters, deep puddles or clogged storm drains knows that now is the time to make repairs and renovations to get ready for the rainy season. And local contractors and home supply centers say outfitting a home to be storm-ready doesn’t have to be difficult. A number of measures can improve storm runoff, but perhaps the most effective is getting water to percolate into the ground. Cement and asphalt surfaces won’t let water leak through. Consequently, many homeowners opt for different materials. Starting two years ago, Half Moon Bay and its surrounding areas of the Peninsula have implemented stronger measures to urge homeowners to adopt better storm-water systems and reduce runoff. As part of a larger agreement between Peninsula cities and San Mateo County, local governments mandated that homes avoid increasing the amount of water runoff coming from their property, particularly for new homes or those that are being rebuilt. To fulfill that mandate, homeowners have been encouraged to redirect gutters and drains so the water percolates into the ground, or to store the water in large retaining tanks.

“Our requirement is that you have the maximum opportunity for water percolation.” -- Mo Sharma, city engineer Half Moon Bay City Engineer Mo Sharma said there are several reasons for these rules. First off, when it rains, the city’s drains and creeks can get inundated from too much water rushing down all at once. This can cause floods or increase the chance of creating blockages. Having too much water runoff can also be hazardous for the local creeks and drainage channels, causing more erosion. Extra runoff also increases the likelihood for hazardous sediments to be funneled out to sea. Certain sediments can threaten marine life and hinder their ability to get oxygen. Sharma said it doesn’t really matter how homeowners choose to handle the problem, so long as they take some initiative. “The city doesn’t mandate one way or another as long HMB September 2010 21


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Top, Don Carey uses porous plastic under sod to create a driveway that both retains water and supports his car. Left, a driveway of a certified green home in El Granada utilizes paving stones to create a permeable surface.

as the design provides no more runoff,” Sharma said. “Our requirement is that you have the maximum opportunity for water percolation.” Some Coastsiders grumble that the water rules don’t make complete sense. One Miramar homeowner said he spent about $20,000 to build a gravel pit for the stormwater to drain into. But during the rainy months, the ground was already saturated with water, and the rainwater would eventually just flow out into the street. Coastside resident Steve Hyman had success using cheaper wooden barrels for the same purpose. Working at a friend’s home, he helped place the 80-gallon barrels at each of the gutter spouts to catch the water, which was later piped to water the yard plants.

“It was a really simple thing to do,” he remarked. “It waters your plants for free, and it looks pretty cute.” Homeowners have many other ways to reduce runoff from their homes. Hundreds of gallons of water will fall from a house’s roof each year. Experts recommend homeowners store that roofwater in large barrels or tanks for later use. At Blue Sky Farms, a porous parking lot surface drains water into a large container underground that is later used for watering plants. Native plants are also particularly adept at retaining rainwater, far better than standard grass lawns. Indigenous plants have better root systems and are more acclimated for the rainfall of the area. But even if plants or trees aren’t native, they still help with retaining water. 1 HMB September 2010 23


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Doing battle with invasive species in your backyard BY AMY JULIA HARRIS PHOTOS BY LARS HOWLETT

F

Return of the natives 28 September 2010 HMB

all is the time to punt your pampas grass, eschew your eucalyptus and off your oxalis. If it ain’t local, it’s gotta go. Luckily, there are local landscapers who specialize in native yardscapes who tell us what to plant and what not to plant and why it’s important to do follow their lead. “Give them an inch and they’ll take an acre” reads the cover of one of the copious invasive plants brochures available at the Master Gardeners office in Half Moon Bay. Shannon Gibbs has been thinking about for that phrase for years and when she thinks of it, she usually thinks of pampas grass. Pampas grass –or Cortaderia selloana -looks like a wispy white feather duster, but it’s causing major problems along the coast. When she moved to the Coastside 11 years ago, Gibbs was alarmed by the pampas grass bunched on the road-


At left, Algerian Ivy has over-run the ground and trees at the entrance to the Sweet\water group campsite near Alsace Lorraine. Above, Sally Coverdell identifies some invasive species in her Miramar back yard, including nasturtium and blue periwinkle.

sides along Highway 92 and at Devil’s Slide that crowded out all other plant life. So she made it her personal crusade to do something. Gibbs began the Coastside Invasive Plant Education program through the Master Gardeners in 2007. “The nice thing along the coast is that we don’t have a large number of species of invasive plants,” said Gibbs. “But the ones we have are really strong and they will crowd out everything.” Gibbs knows the struggle firsthand. She had to deal with invasives in her own back yard. When she moved into her Half Moon Bay home, she inherited a sea of English ivy from the previous owners. She toiled for months to get it under control and eventually remove it altogether. In hindsight she said, it would have been a simple thing if the people who

had planted it had known that the ivy was an invasive species in the first place. “The Coastside is a wonderful place to grow plants,” said Gibbs. “Gardeners don’t want to plant something that is invasive, so why not give them alternatives?” That’s exactly what Sally Coverdell does. As a landscaper with Blue Sky Farms, she says that spreading awareness is key. “People just don’t know,” said Coverdell. “We have people coming in and saying, do you sell pampas grass? Letting people know is the first step.” It’s the opposite of the NIMBY problem, says Christiana Conser, a project manager with Plant Right, a group that helps spread awareness about invasive plants. The problem, she says, is that it’s in everyone’s back

“The nice thing along the coast is that we don’t have a large number of species of invasive plants. But the ones we have are really strong and they will crowd out everything.” — Shannon Gibbs, Coastside Invasive Plant Education

HMB September 2010 29


Above, St. John’s wort from the Canary Islands overtakes a field and hillside between Gazos Creek and Costanoa, threatening to spread over the ridge into a state park.

“In the case of pampas grass, they produce plumes with hundreds of thousands of seeds, and on a windy day, those seeds disperse for miles.” -- Christiana Conser, Plant Right project manager 30 September 2010 HMB

yard. People unknowingly purchase ornamental plants that aren’t native to California, and those seeds can hop the fence and invade wildlands. In fact, Californian’s pay, not just in aggravation — protecting California from invasive species costs the state $85 million every year. According to the California Invasive Plant Council, more than half of the plants currently damaging California’s wildlands were originally introduced for landscaping purposes. Conser, a project manager with Plant Right, said that nursery industries introduced thousands of ornamental plants, but only 1 percent escaped to become invasive. Pretty good ratio, right? Well, not exactly. If you look at the California Invasive Plants Council’s list, of the 200 invasive plants that threaten wildlands, about half of those are ornamental. “In the case of pampas grass, they produce plumes with hundreds of thousands of seeds, and on a windy day, those seeds disperse for miles,” said Conser. How that plant interacts in the garden, how it’s in-

teracting in neighborhood and watershed — that can be completely different.” One of the reasons this can happen, says Conser, is that invasive plants have the same characteristics that make for a perfect backyard plant — they are easy to propagate, they grow rapidly, they produce lots of flowers and they’re disease resistant. That makes these plants virtually impossible to get rid of, but Coverdell is a ruthless warrior when it comes to dealing with invasive plants. She has a degree in plant science from University of California, Davis, and has worked in horticulture for more decades. She takes a bare-knuckled approach to foreign invaders by spraying and uprooting. And in certain instances, sheet mulching. Sheet mulching may not be high-tech, but it can spell death for unwanted plants. You take a thick slab of cardboard — several inches thick and place it on top of the ground after pulling up as much of the weed as you can. Then you cover the


Avoid the invaders t Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) Pampas grass can hop from your back yard and set up along rivers and creeks. t Ice plant (carpobrotus edulis) Easy to grow and drought tolerant, ice plant overtakes sand dunes along the coast. t Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) This perennial herb competes with native plants trying to re-inhabit a site. t Blue gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) The Australian tree is adaptable to a range of conditions, which makes it pop up everywhere and crowd out native plants. t Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major) This evergreen trailing vine spreads its roots to provide ground cover and will continue to spread if it makes it to open spaces. t English ivy (Hedera helix) The evergreen climbing plant can choke out other plants both in backyards and wildlands. t For a complete list of California’s invasive plants, visit www.plantright.org.

cardboard in mulch, a layer of decaying organic matter three to four inches thick — and let mother nature do the rest. You are basically burying the remnants of the pesky plant alive under a teeming layer of compost and mulch. That’s Coverdell’s approach to dealing with oxalis. The “Bermuda buttercup” looks like an unpretentious enough flower, but once it sets up shop in your back yard, it can take over and be a nightmare for gardeners. The earlier you dig out oxalis in its fall-to-spring growing season, the easier a problem it becomes. But are invasive plants really so bad? Many of them are beautiful, which is why home gardeners plant them in their back yards in the first place. It all comes down to what we value, says Conser. “When invasives move to wildlands, they move into a natural area and they take over,” she said. “And they’re the only thing that can live there. There are no natural enemies to keep them in check. So you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Do you value having a monoculture … or do you want to preserve biodiversity?’” For her part, Gibbs wants to see a world along the coast with more than just pampas grass. “There is a real responsibility on the homeowners on the coast,” said Gibbs. “If we don’t start looking at what we have in our back yards, these plants can take off into the open space and our Coastside will be transformed.” 1

Top right, blue periwinkle is commonly regarded as a beautiful flower, but the plant can quickly choke out other species threatening habitats for local insects and animals. Below right, Sally Coverdell holds a bunch of invasive montbretia that she uprooted to make room for native species.

HMB September 2010 31


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Steven Melo’s Landscaping & Gardening

scott & mike menary

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Be a part of one of our most popular magazines of the year. Reserve space before we run out of orange ink. HMB magazine 726-4424


» DOWN TO EARTH

Foolproof potted plants Q:

What is a good, lowmaintenance plant that would grow well inside? I have a medium-sized pot and bright light.

A:

- Carol R., Half Moon Bay

Well, you can try something I planted last month, an Agave attenuata. I got a fabulous pot (about 1.5by-2.5) at Fabbri Home & Garden, filled it with potting soil and planted one large Agave attenuata. Generally, succulents are not the first thing you think of as an indoor plant, but with the right conditions they make excellent plants for the home or office. They are incredibly hardy and lowmaintenance, and the bold, structural look makes for an incredible addition to any room. Just make sure you have a few essentials: bright light, warmth, and minimal watering. Agave loves deep but infrequent watering and a little organic fertilizer every couple months. They don’t need a whole lot of care other than that, although an open window with a warm(ish) breeze wouldn’t hurt. I would recommend buying a large agave, since they grow fairly slowly. — JLS

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” — H. Fred Dale

Agave attenuata

Potted plant tip Here are ingredients for a gorgeous grouping of potted plants: Cerinthe

Contact Jennifer Segale, Wildflower Farms, 726-5883 and Carla Lazzarini, Earth’s Laughter, (650) 996-5168.

Thyme ‘Elfin’ Carex buchananii Sweet Pea ‘Electric Blue’ Salvia uglinosa I usually buy all of these in a 4-inch size or one-gallon size. Plant all of these in any order, in the largest pot you have. By the fall they will be bursting out with color and texture! — JLS

HMB September 2010 35


» SIGHTSEEING WITH LARS HOWLETT

Composing in three dimensions

n When: 3:04 p.m., Aug. 2, 2010 n Where: El Granada n Exposure: 1/125 of a second at f/5, ISO 400 n Photographer’s Notes: I was on assignment to photograph nuclear weapons historian, journalist and author Richard Rhodes when he suggested the home library as a setting for a portrait. I agreed, but was careful to position him closer to me than the shelves — about two feet from the camera and 10 feet from the books. Simple portraits can be more compelling when the composition include a fore, middle and background. For example, say you want to photograph a family in front of their home. Instead of having them stand on the steps, bring them out onto the sidewalk with the home in the distance. With this technique your subject will have a stronger identity and not get lost or overwhelmed by the environment.

36 September 2010 HMB

Lars Howlett is the Half Moon Bay Review’s photographer. You can reach him at lars@hmbreview.com


Go frame-less!

Your Frame-less Specialist CUSTOM SHOWER ENCLOSURES AND MIRRORS

SHOWERS Inc. Come visit our showroom at: 1160 Industrial Road #10 • San Carlos, CA • 650.593.6997• www.cbshowers.com Contractor’s Lic. #753993


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Patient – Sasha Taylor-Ray

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HMB Magazine Sept. 2010  

HMB Review Magazine Sept. 2010