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AUGUST GARDEN TO-DOS ... UC master gardeners say August is a good time to prune hydrangeas by cutting off older stems that have flowered. For large flower clusters, reduce the number of stems. For lots of smaller flowers, keep more nicely spaced stems.

LOCAL REALTOR TOP RANKED ... Alain Pinel Realtors' Keri Nicholas has been ranked 27th nationally by REAL Trends, a leading source of analysis and information for the residential real estate brokerage industry. She is now ranked in the top half of 1 percent of the 1.1 million Realtors nationwide.

GOING NATIVE ... If you live in Santa Clara or San Mateo counties, and California native plants are a significant percentage (60 percent or more) of your garden, the California Native Plant Society invites you to submit your garden for inclusion in its 2017 annual Going Native Garden Tour on Saturday, April 22, 2017, for north Santa Clara County and San Mateo County gardens. Go to the tour's website at for more information on how to submit your garden. The submission deadline is Oct. 30.

TOMATO FEST ... The Gamble Garden in Palo Alto will hold its 4th annual Tomato Extravaganza on Sept. 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at 1431 Waverley St. Share your harvest, taste other varieties, and meet other tomato enthusiasts. Taste dishes that include tomatoes, and learn about collecting seeds for next year. Register for the free event by going online to or by calling the Gamble Garden office at 650-329-1356.

AN EASY PLANT TO GROW ... According to Garden Design magazine, coleus is one of the easiest plants to grow and one of the most gratifying and eye-catching. The plant, which can be used as a shady bed plant, a sunny border plant, or used to fill in gaps, comes in an array of colors from pink to lime green. With the Latin botanical name Solenostemon scutellarioides, coleus comes in varieties called "Anini Sunset" (orangey yellow), Inky Fingers (purple and light green) and Wild Lime. Coleus root easily in water, grow in nearly any soil, and can tolerate all but the strongest sun.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details