Real Estate

Home front: celebrate winter solstice, protect your evergreens

Palo Alto apartment rents up 3 percent

A roundup of home and garden tips and events on the Midpeninsula, including Hidden Villa Farm's winter solstice event and a seed planter class.

WE'RE NOT IMAGINING IT ... According to a study by housing experts at San Francisco-based ApartmentList.com, an apartment rental marketplace, rents are on the rise. The median two-bedroom rent in Palo Alto is $2,990, up 3.1 percent since the same time last year. In comparison, the national median two-bedroom rent is $1,160, up 2.7 percent.

WINTER SOLSTICE ... Winter doesn't officially begin until Dec. 21, but you can celebrate the winter solstice early during a special family event at Hidden Villa Farm on Saturday, Dec. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Participants will learn what solstice is through stories, games, music, and crafts, including a beeswax candle and a clove pomander and learn the science behind solstice (and why winter happens). Cost is $20 for an adult and one child; $8 for every additional person. Children 2 and younger are free. To register go to hiddenvilla.org.

PLANT SOME SEEDS ... On Saturday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 17, Hidden Villa Farm will host a "Simple Seed Planters" activity at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Learn to make a seed planter using just a few recycled materials and then hunt for wild seeds on the farm. Put your seeds in their new abode and take your planter home to watch them grow. This program is covered by your entrance fee. For more information, go to hiddenvilla.org.

PROTECT YOUR EVERGREENS ... It's easy to assume that if a plant is an evergreen, it's safe from the elements in the winter, but this is not necessarily the case. In cold climates, winter wind and sunshine can parch the foliage of even the toughest broadleaf evergreens because the frozen soil prevents water uptake, according to Garden Design magazine. Here are a few tips for shielding your shrubs from winter's worst. Plant delicate broadleaf evergreens, such as azaleas and rhododendrons, in wind-protected spots. Adding a layer of mulch will also help conserve moisture. Another option is to build a temporary windbreak using stakes and burlap.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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