Home Front for Feb. 18NATIVE PLANT GARDENING ... A symposium on "California Gardens: Beauty & Sustainability With Native Plants" will be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Foothill College Smithwick Theater, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. The symposium includes talks by horticulturists and designers, as well as a plant and book sale. It is organized by the California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter, hosted by the Foothill College Environmental Horticulture Department, and sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency. Tickets range from $50 to $110. Information: symposium.cnps or 650-260-3450
FRUIT TREE PRUNING ... Certified Arborist Kevin Raftery will teach a class on "Fruit Tree Pruning" on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The class, which will cover tree health, fruit production, dead-wood identification and espalier care, meets at Common Ground, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto, then moves on to a local orchard. Students should bring pruning shears, a notebook and a bag lunch. Cost is $42. Information: 650-493-6072, www.commongroundinpaloalto.org or prunefruittrees.eventbrite.com
THE BULB HUNTER ... Chris Wiesinger, author of "Heirloom Bulbs for Today," will speak to The Garden Club of Los Altos on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 1:30 p.m. Wiesinger will discuss his rescue of rare heirloom bulbs acclimatized for warm climates, as well as do a book signing. The group meets at Christ Episcopal Church, 1040 Border Road, Los Altos. Guest fee is $10. Information: 650-964-7614
OLIVE OIL ... Carol Firenze, author of "The Passionate Olive — 101 Things to Do With Olive Oil," will offer "The Ultimate Olive Oil Experience" on Sunday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Firenze will review olive oil's impact on commerce, health and the culinary world and will offer tastings of three kinds of olive oil, as well as advice on pairings with dishes. Cost is $40 for nonmembers, $30 for members. Information: 650-329-1356, www.gamblegarden.org or www.thepassionateolive.com
HOME HELP DEADLINE ... Applications for seniors and homebound individuals to receive free help in everything from changing smoke-detector batteries to flipping their mattresses is Monday, Feb. 28. The annual REALTORŪ Service Volunteer Program (RSVP), where Realtors and others who provide industry-related services pitch in to help maintain local properties in tip-top shape, takes place the week of May 16-20. Tasks include replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters and cleaning windows. Information: 408-200-0100 or www.silvar.org to download an application
RENTS RISING ... Rent for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in large Palo Alto apartment buildings is strongly on the rise, according to RealFacts, a Novato-based research organization. Average rent in the fourth quarter was $2,004, up 12.1 percent over last year. That brings it almost as high as Menlo Park, at $2,037, with nearly no change from 2009. Mountain View, at $1,456, was up nearly 6 percent, but East Palo Alto fell close to 11 percent to $951. RealFacts surveys owners of buildings with at least 100 units.