Early Planning is Part of the Process…

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Early planning is part of the horticulture process.  Plants must be ordered in the winter months for spring deliveries, and evergreens must be ordered in autumn for winter pickups.

And, as much as you try to plan ahead, there will always be things you don’t expect which may cause your plans to not go exactly according to plan, but you adjust, correct, and move on.

On my recently submitted evergreens order for the upcoming December class on making holiday creations with fresh evergreens, there is a disclaimer on the bottom of the confirmation form which reads:

“Prices are from current inventory and WILL change due to availability, season, and any other act of God.”

Can you imagine if this disclaimer was on your plant tag or pot when you buy a plant at a garden center?  Imagine the response!

But I so get what this company is saying – and, they say it like it is.

Large Full Size Kissing Ball created by an Attendee!

Large Full Size Kissing Ball created by an Attendee at Cathy T’s Annual Winter Class

My planning began this month for a Cathy T Class being offered in December.  It is the 5th Annual Kissing Balls and Evergreen Holiday Creations Class, and it is fun, popular, and worth every bit of planning.

This post is to provide my blog followers with a heads-up that the class is on the calendar.  If you wish to sign-up, which is recommended to do early for seats fill up quickly, see the menu bar above, Cathy T Classes.

When you click on the menu’s option, a drop down list appears with two options for this winter class.  One is the “contact form” to sign up, the other provides more details about the class with photos of the items you can make.

As for now, this is all you need to know if you are interested in signing up today to save the date on your holiday calendar.

As soon as you are “in,” more information on the amazing variety of evergreens is provided along with complete details about this class scheduled on December 6th, 2014 – the first Saturday in December.

By the way, we have three “premium” evergreens added this year, which are new for this year’s class!  As well as the usual mix of eleven other types of FRESH evergreens.

That is right – a total of 14 varieties of beautiful evergreens to use when you make your holiday creation as an attendee at this Cathy T Class.

You won’t find this elsewhere, I guarantee it – Unless, of course, there is an act of God.

Cathy Testa
http://www.cathytesta.com
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
containercathy@gmail.com

Cathy Testa's Vision of the Future - Photo by Bitstrips

Cathy Testa’s Vision of the Future – Photo by Bitstrips

Hypertufa Making Class – A Great Way to Enjoy a Chilly Fall Day

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On a very cool and rainy Saturday, 12 ladies gathered to hear a professional hypertufa making artist talk about the how to’s and secrets of making hypertufa pots.

Hypertufa is a very lightweight natural material that looks like stone,” stated Jim Kandik of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa.

And he should know. He has been handcrafting planters and garden art in hypertufa style for years and offers them for sale at various garden and art shows, such as the Boston Flower Show, Newport Flower Show, and Celebrate West Hartford show – just to name a few.

We all felt lucky to have Jim give us the low-downs on how to make hypertufa planters and containers as we wore our cozy sweatshirts and hats to ward off the slightly chilly air coming through the garage doors of Cathy T’s large classroom.

And if the fall clothing didn’t work, a cozy outdoor fire pit and hot coffee spiced up with pumpkin flavoring and whipped cream was offered to the attendees to warm up their fingers before they began their work of assembling their first hand-made hypertufa pots under the careful direction and guidance of Jim as our guest instructor.

As Jim explained in his class handouts for the attendees, “Tufa stone, a form of limestone, was used in olden times to form troughs on farms.  It is now so rare that “Hypertufa” was created to duplicate its look and function.

Jim has refined his hypertufa recipe and process to create the finest hypertufa available.  And this refinement is not an understatement as it was apparent to us all attending this class that Jim has a love for making these handcrafted pieces of art.

He makes beautiful birdbaths, planters, fairy houses, mushrooms, and sundials.  Even a gorgeous planter was showcased as part of the day’s activities.  Each is made with good lines and bones, so to speak.  The edges are clean and forms are nearly perfect, but each is unique.

Hypertufas are very lightweight, so they can be easily moved around as features in your gardens or as planters for a table top.  They are easy to care for as well.

Any plant can go in them, from houseplants to succulents, and you may even elect to add a bit of mini garden art or delicate small stones to the top after planting them.

As Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa stated, “Hypertufas need no other special attention and can last for many years.” But he strongly advises you should always move them under cover by bringing them inside during the winter, as standing water will freeze and crack the pieces.

Jim explained his passion of vegetable gardening from years ago, and how a special Aunt was an avid grower of roses.  She was so involved in the process of growing roses, she was eventually a judge at one time for the American Rose Society.

His love of making hypertufa pots and art is in his genes.  It was all passed on via the love of gardening by people like his Aunt. He remembers the first time he saw a hypertufa in friend’s garden and how he was drawn to it immediately and wanted to learn how to make them.  Once he learned the process, it was, well, all hypertufa history from there!

“Cement is an ingredient in hypertufas, but it is not technically accurate to call cement a hypertufa,” stated Jim during his lecture portion of the class.

He went over the other key ingredients to use in correct proportions by volume to achieve the correct mix and showed everyone exactly how to add water appropriately so you do not have too much or too little.

Mixing water into the hypertufa mix is an art form, similar to how one must master the art of watering plants in container gardens.  There’s a bit of science and art to the process, and our special guest instructor, Jim, was sure to show and tell this aspect very well to the attendees.

Hypertufas are porous, not as dense as cement,” explained Jim further during his lecture and demo.  “Cement is very fine (like talcum powder), and it is extremely important to get it well mixed thoroughly as it absorbs water, and it must be evenly distributed during the mixing process.

Jim adds other special ingredients to stabilize the mix and make it stronger, which he shared with the attendees of this class, and also provided lots of tips and the “secrets” of success.

After Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa went over all the specifics, tips and tricks, and details of the mix components, he showed us exactly how to mix up a batch, explaining his mixing process is similar to how masons do it for masonry work, using the appropriate mixing tools as well. He also showed the exact consistency and what to look out for as you prepare your batch.

As soon as things were mixed just perfectly, the attendees began assembling the mix into their molds.  This class was designed to teach the process, so the molds were on the smaller to medium size, just perfect to understand and learn the process from a master.

When making hypertufas, it is important to remember the mixing process is critical as well as the correct ratio of the components used in the mix, and then the last step, the curing process is critical.

After made, they are not ready to be used for a few weeks.  A few days of setting is involved, then removal from the molds, and followed by another period of curing and drying.

Depending on where this takes place, such as in a garage or inside a workshop in the home, the temperature and air environment will affect the amount of time required.

Also, the materials used to make the hypertufa can have an affect on the pH of the soil put into the pot, so Jim provided a tip on what to do if this is a concern for the type of plants used in the hypertufa container.

Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa was very generous by offering us all his insider tips which he has learned and mastered over the years, and giving wonderful fall discounts on some of his pre-made hypertufa pieces of art.

And last but not least, he made us laugh too – what more could you ask for in a presenter?! We truly appreciate his expertise and hope to visit with him again soon at his upcoming art shows.

Here are some photos taken during the class.

To find out more about Jim and his products and exhibits, visit www.formedforyou.com. Also, his products will be available at online stores via Amazon.com soon.

ContainerCrazyCT Hypertufa Making Class_0004

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Cathy Testa
http://www.cathytesta.com
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473 (cell)
containercathy@gmail.com (email)

Upcoming Workshop:

5th AnnualHoliday Kissing Ball and Evergreens Creation Class” is scheduled.

Date:  December 6, 2014 (first Saturday in December)
Start time:  11:00 am 

To Request Your Seat:  

Fill out the Contact Form by clicking on the top menu bar of this blog, or here:
Cathy T Classes-2014 Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations Class.

Autumn Begins On Monday – Time to Move In Your Plants

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Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to remind you to think about that statement I made at the Big Container Garden Party in May:

Do not let your succulent plants, cacti, or houseplants with tender foliage in your outdoor container gardens and pots stay out in the cold damp weather too long.

It has been my experience if you let that soil stay cold, and it remains wet – and then you move them inside, two things typically happen.  The tender soft foliage of these types of plants start to rot at the base, or sometimes the damp wet soil invites little critters to take residence in the pot.

So as noted on your handouts from the May Big Container Garden Party class titled, “The 7 MUST NOT DO’S WITH SUCCULENTS & CACTI“, is that you should not leave them out beyond summer when we start to get continuous cold evening temperatures.  (Try this test: Touch the side of your pots – if Terracotta or glazed, they are chilly right now – even in the sun.  The type of container may contribute to cold soil at this time of year, despite the nice warm sun we are having.)

This week has been nice and sunny during the day, so if for some reason your soil in your pots is really damp/wet, give it some sun, don’t water, and let it dry out a bit – then start to move them in soon.  Frost typically happens early to mid-October, so there is still time to enjoy other plants, as follows:

Canna, Elephant Ears, and Banana Plants

As for the Canna, Elephant Ears, and Banana plants – they can handle this weather a while longer into early October before the first frost of Autumn hits.

If you wish to keep the Canna, Elephant Ears, or Banana plants in their pots inside the home – my advice is reduce the watering now – it will dry out the soil a bit, makes the pot lighter to move, and kind of the same theory as above, the soil won’t be damp when it is moved inside – reducing your risk if critters moving into damp soil. Pick a sunny window in the house from that point forward.

If you wish to store the Canna, Elephant Ear, or Banana plants base or storage organ, such as the rhizomes under the soil for the Canna, you may allow it to get hit by the fall frost – The foliage will turn black and soft – and you can cut that all off and then work to remove the rhizome or corm for the Canna and Elephant ear respectively.  For the Banana Plant, refer to my blog where I posted all the steps.

There is also choice #3 – if you want to keep the Canna, Elephant Ear, or Banana plants in their pots and you have a basement to move them into – this is also a technique for overwintering them.  Again, pick a spot, don’t water it much now, and let it look tattered over the winter but just hanging in there. For basement option, must do before frost as well – which probably will happen in mid-October.

Elephant Ear - Colcocasia

Elephant Ear – Colcocasia

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets)

Another plant sold at the Big Container Garden Party was the Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets).  These should not be hit by frost.  I recommend you move them in to the home if you wish as a houseplant before frost hits, or into your basement to go dormant.  In the basement, most of the leaves will fall off, it will look tattered over the winter, but will bounce back (usually!).  Also, Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets) may be pruned back hard if you wish – pruning off all the stems and part of the stalk, but then you would not have the tall height next season if you wish to keep it tall.

Succulents, Cacti, Alpine Plants

Also, a reminder about another “do not do’s” with the succulents, cacti, and alpine like plants – do not put them in dark rooms, or between curtains in the house.  Do not let them sit in water catch trays.  Do not put them in a very shady spot in the home, or by really cold pockets. They need a bright sunny window, and reduce watering them regularly.  South or West facing windows are typically best. Refer to your handout on more details about how to water them in the winter months.

Hens and Chics

Hens and Chicks – Sempervivums

Hypertufas with Hens and Chick Plants

Hypertufas!  Did you buy one in May?  Well, the good news is they can remain outdoors – the material of the pot is pretty tough – but I say move it to a protected outdoor location, the hens and chicks in the pot will come back next season.  You may want to put it under your porch steps, or if you have a woodstove, heck, put it by the foundation wall near that area outdoors.  Or bring it in and place in a sunny window to treat as a houseplant, reduce the watering, etc.  The plants will look like they are not alive at some point, but they hang in there – believe me – they bounce back.

Mini-Crimson Mandevilla

Mini-Crimson Mandevilla

Mandevillas

Mandevilla - These too can be stored over the winter in somewhat of a tattered state, cut the vines back, and put them in the basement, they will loose leaves over the winter, but will hang in there.  More information can be provided if you have any further questions. This tropical like vine will be showy for a while more too – but don’t let it get hit by frost.

Perennials - Some of the plants were perennial and you may remove them from your container gardens and transplant them into the gardens of the ground, or often they return in the pots if you move them to a protected location over the winter (i.e., garage), especially if you used a big pot with lots of soil mass as your container garden when you put these together in May.

Thank you, and for those registered for the Octobert Hypertufa Class – I’ll see you soon!

Cathy Testa

P.S.  The “Evergreens Kissing Ball & Holiday Creations” class date has been noted above and on the side bar of this blog.  It is Saturday, December 6th, 2014.

One of the Best Whites – Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’

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When white is needed in a container garden – and that white flower needs to last all the way into the end of summer – one plant you can count on every time is Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’.

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' up-close and personal

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ up-close and personal

Just look at how delicate and gorgeous it is in this photo taken of a container garden up-close and personal above.

The soft, airy, and tiny white flowers (technically white bracts held above the green foliage) makes a perfect mounding candidate in container gardens as a filler plant.

Tucked at the base of larger Filler Plants

Tucked at the base of larger Thriller plants

As I considered which plants to use in container gardens for a late summer wedding, the decision to use Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ was not a difficult one.

It is heat and drought tolerant and lasts from spring until the first frost of fall.  What more could you ask for in a plant?

Early growing period of Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' in Container Gardens

Early growing period of Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ in Container Gardens

This herbaceous perennial, treated as an annual in our Connecticut planting zones, is a member of the spurge family.  It is also an award winner, and can be used as a houseplant if brought in before the first frost of the fall, which usually hits in mid-October.

A soft filler base with subtle highlights

A soft filler base with subtle highlights

Other amazing attributes about this plant is it requires no deadheading, it is deer resistant, and adaptable to the landscape as well as container gardens.  It takes part sun to full sun, and blooms constantly with little to no attention.

Part sun to sun conditions with well-draining soil

Part sun to sun conditions with well-draining soil

About the only concern to watch out for it is must have good drainage because it can rot in the base of a pot or container garden at the root level due to its delicate nature.

Just lovely with the blue flowers

Just lovely with the blue flowers

I don’t think you could find a more elegant plant, however, to suit the setting of a wedding – Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ is as beautiful as the lace on the bride’s wedding dress, thus this plants fits the setting and the mood.

As Delicate as the Lace on a Bride's Wedding Dress

As Delicate as the Lace on a Bride’s Wedding Dress

And the fact it was situated near some darker toned elephant ear plants (the thrillers in the container gardens) made the white delicate feature stand out. It is a plant to be used again and again every season.

However, Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ isn’t the only beautiful white flowering annual to use when you need a plant to last in a container garden until the first frost of fall, there are more white flowering plants with long-lasting attributes to be featured here soon – please, stay tuned.

Cathy Testa

Common Name: Spurge
Latin name: Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Inneuphei’ Diamond Frost
Zones: 10 to 12, Herbaceous perennial (annual in CT)
Proven Winner
Award Winner

Some photos above by Debut Cinematic

For more plant details, refer to Mobot.org

For Container Garden Rental Services by Cathy Testa of ContainerCrazyCT, click here.

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' growing in starter pots

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ growing in starter pots

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Friends in My Backyard this Autumn

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A few years back, we purchased a motion sensor camera to put in the woodlands behind our house – strictly for fun.  It is amazing to see what we capture from time to time living and roaming in the wild. Turkeys, raccoons, our cats, and more.  Two recent visitors have been this fox below, and a buck.

I know foxes live out in the woods beyond our backyard, and I recognize their barking sounds.  They sound like a dog with a scratchy voice.  I’m sure my chickens are not liking their visits – I can imagine the foxes scan the coop’s pen from time to time when we don’t know it.

One year, a momma fox and her two babies hung out in our yard quite a bit.  I was sitting on my porch, quietly sipping coffee, and the momma fox came right up near me suddenly, not knowing I was there – and she had the nerve to yelp at me a little because she was startled when she saw me.  I yelped back, because I was startled too, and quickly ran back into the house.

Fox, Broad Brook, CT

Fox, Broad Brook, CT

And this buck, in the photo below, was also captured by the camera this week as he slowly walked up to the camera to investigate it – they are smarter than we think.

This shot is particularly cute with his inquisitive eyes. He is seeing the blinking red light which flickers when a photo is taken. We got many snapshots of him on the camera, but I picked this one to share this morning.

Deer use our backyard as a passage way – the Scantic River runs beyond our property and with the wetlands and many trees, they enjoy the woodland areas.

One year, a little deer in the backyard showed up, so I snuck up with a camera to take a photo, using the pool as a shield as I approached her.  I got rather close to the deer – but she didn’t run away.  My father later told me to never do that again, deer can attack, he stated.

Deer Spotted in Autumn, Broad Brook, CT

Deer Spotted in Autumn, Broad Brook, CT

People will complain about deer munching on their garden plants – but I guess because there is plenty for them to forage on in the woodlands, they don’t seem to bother my landscape plants much, but I certainly would be annoyed if they attempted to munch on my plants in my container gardens scattered around the yard.  Sometimes, in the winter, they may try to bite a bit on some holly bushes in the front landscape area of my house, but it doesn’t happen often.  Thankfully.

There are many critters around here in my backyard – raccoon, fox, and deer are common visitors.  This spring, a family of raccoons took up residence in the garage attic – How did they get in?  Through the pet door for our cats!  It was not fun eradicating the momma raccoon and her 3 babies. Afterwards, the pet door got shut off for a while until we resolved their regular visits.

I really don’t mind the wild visitors in my yard – they bring a sense of calm when you quietly witness them walking around and enjoying their surroundings – so long as they leave my six hens alone – they are welcome!  It is all part of enjoying nature, and as this autumn approaches and we witness the change of the leaves, feel the cooler breezes, and listen to the quieter evenings no longer filled with the sounds of crickets and frogs, I guess we will welcome our wild friends along with the change of seasons.

Cathy Testa

Plants Never Give Up – So, Why Should We?

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After a crazy busy schedule, I thought I would have one last big item to get through on my work list for the end of this summer season, and then I thought I could take a deep breath and maybe a little break before the fall and winter activities kick in, such as the Oct 4th Hypertufa Making Class and the Dec 6th Evergreen Kissing Balls & Holiday Creations class.

But oh no…, a hacker entered my midst, and soon after a laptop problem occurred – all leading to a big delay in my work schedule and activities. It made me put on the breaks, and literally – take a BREAK.

But the good news is, I found a great tech, got things rolling again – and, as of today, it is back to business and back to blogging.

The interruption to my schedule certainly caused some nuisance problems and a rescheduling of an important class to November, for the Advance Master Gardener program, but the MG coordinator understood.  You see, she’s been there with computer issues too recently, not just on her home computer but on her work computer at the same time.

And, I think in general, gardeners or people dealing with plants as a career, well, they seem to know how to handle interruptions or mishaps when things happen with plants – maybe it gives us some patience skill building – like when we have a failure of a plant due to an insect attack, a virus or unexpected damaging weather – Our reaction can be similar – as in, first you go running, screaming, and venting – then you take a deep breath and work through it using the tools and experience you possess.

I will say this – I am super glad plants don’t rely on technology like computers do. OMG, I really don’t know how the techie heads keep up with all they need to know to manage all the problems one can encounter on the web, etc.

OK, BACK to PLANTS!

Fly on Milk Thistle Bloom

Fly on Milk Thistle Bloom

Milk Thistle Brings On Unusual Surprises

I thought about how I didn’t expect to collect seeds from one plant I put into a container garden this summer, but about a week ago, a Milk Thistle plant started to burst open its gone by flower heads and release fluffy white appendages attached to their blackened seeds within.  I carefully cut off the top of the flower head, and pulled the seeds from the center to store them for the winter to use next spring.

This Milk Thistle, called Silybum marianum, is new to me – and the only reason I grabbed one plant one day was I liked the speckled striking pattern of creamy white on its bright green leaves.  Knowing nothing about it (other than it resembling Canada Thistle, which is considered invasive in CT), I got it as a spontaneous purchase.

Creamy White Marbled Foliage on Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum

Creamy White Marbled Foliage on Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum

How it Grew and Changed Over the Season

As the plant grew, I discovered it has nasty thorns on its leaves, and if you happen to be near it or working around it – it can poke you easily.

It grew fast and wide, and took up a lot of space in the pot.  But the label said it would get 4 feet tall – and no way was it that tall when it first was growing in the pot.

Finally one day, around mid-summer, a stalk with a flower bud appeared to form and started to pop up from the base of the wide foliage, and within days, the stalk shot up fast to at least 2-3 feet tall.

Plant Rises Tall as soon as Flowers Grow

Plant Rises Tall as soon as Flowers Grow

It was like one minute, it was short and wide, and then two days later, this very tall flower rose above it – amazing fast growth in height. That was surprise #2 about this plant. So, it does reach four feet tall after all.

I was happy to see the beautiful purple-violet flowers open up and found them to be very pretty – when I posted a couple photos of it on Instagram, I got comments right away.

Blooms of Silybum marianum

Blooms of Silybum marianum

One person asked if it was Silybum marianum, and said they wanted that plant for medicinal purposes.  Even a nurseryman asked if I had “seeds to share.”

Flower Head Cracking Open

Flower Head Cracking Open

But it was not in my plan to actually harvest the seeds, however, I began to do so this month once I saw them pop open, and realized it could be a popular plant for some folks.

Seeds escaping to survive

Seeds escaping to survive

It is stated on the plant tag, “Legend has it that the variegation arose from the milk of the Virgin, which fell on this plant, hence the botanical name.  The flower heads are often eaten as artichokes and the seed is used to medicinally cleanse the liver.

Collecting Seeds of Milk Thistle

Collecting Seeds of Milk Thistle

Plants never give up – They continue to set flowers to set seeds, despite weather changes, attacks by insects or viruses, and it was just a thought which popped into my head this morning – as I dealt with technical problems with my laptop the past week and got “back to business” today with a functioning computer fixed finally.  A plant never gives up – despite its challenges, then neither should I. Cause believe me, the delays were testing my perseverance at the end of a busy season, right at a moment when I wanted to breath a sigh of relief.

Cacti Pots Like These Will be Moved Inside Soon

Cacti Pots Like These Will be Moved Inside Soon

Time to Start Moving in the Cacti

Now that fall is coming upon us, it is time to consider getting some seasonal color in the landscape with mums and other fall blooming plants, and maybe adding some fun autumn decor in the mix.  But, I really don’t want to let go of the plants on my deck yet!

However, the nights are getting quite cool so it is time to considering moving in the cacti or succulents, as the tender fleshy growth may rot at the base if the soil in your container stays damp in this cool weather.

My recommendation is to reduce watering greatly for your plants outdoors in container gardens, and move any pots with succulents or cacti, which you may have purchased at the May Container Garden Party Class, to a sunny location on your deck or patio this week if they are not already in full sun.

Let the sun warm and dry out the soil somewhat before you transition any of these types of plants into your home as houseplants, which should be done soon, in the next week or so.

Once indoors, reduce the watering of your cacti plants over the winter months, and be sure you put them near a sunny window, not in a very shady spot in your home, if possible.

For more information, attendees should refer to the handout from the May Big Container Garden Class about the “Must Not Do’s with Succulents and Cacti.”

Tree Like

Angel Trumpet from Prior Years – Move inside before frost if you want to keep as a houseplant

Time to Reduce the Watering of Others

You should also reduce the watering of your Canna, Elephant Ears, or Banana plants in your container gardens.  If you were watering them daily, reduce it to every 4 days or so.  The cool nights will slow down the plant growth as we transition into the fall season, and if you allow the soil to dry out somewhat, it will be easier to either move your pots into your home if you plan to do so, or remove the rhizomes and tubers below the soil after the first frost hits them in October.

The canna, elephant ears, and banana plants are still booming beautifully right now, and I plan to enjoy them up to the time I have to disassemble my pots to remove the rhizomes or root bases.  BUT, if you want to take those plants inside as a houseplant, you want to do so before our first frost in October.  Once hit by frost, they blacken and turn to mush.

Watch the weather for the frost warnings in the coming weeks as we get closer to October. And in regards to the Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia), which someone asked about recently, if you wish to move them inside the home, do so before any frost too.  Or you can cut this plant back hard and move the pot to the basement.

More details on this will be posted soon – check back in often!

Cathy Testa

Plant Details:

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Annual Herb, Sun Exposure
Height: 4 feet, Space in the Garden: 24″
Uses:  Ornamental (my reason for getting it), Medicinal (learned from friends), and Culinary
Gilbertie’s Herbs was the grower I got it from this year.
Use a big pot if you plan to grow one in a container (22″ in diameter recommended as min.)

 

Hot Day, Sweating, Tired – But Still Smiling

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Cathy Testa on a Hot Summer Day; Photo by DebutCinematic

Cathy Testa on a Hot Summer Day; Photo by DebutCinematic

This photo of me was taken on one of the hottest summer mornings this year.

Karen of Debut Cinematic Life Style Photography arrived very early, but even so, it was already hot and humid as the sun was rising that day.

We had no choice but to pick this day because my schedule was packed and Karen’s was too – plus, she was about to move to another state the very next day!

When I showed the photos to Steve, my husband, he asked, “Why do you look so tired in this photo?”

I guess this is true, and I had to laugh when he made that comment.  And although I do look a little tired, I still love this photo – the reason for looking tired was the combination of the heat and the fact my schedule keeps moving in the hort world.  It’s all good, but sometimes keeping up leads to some wear and tear on the face and body.

My planting season was filled with activity – from holding garden talks in early May through the end of this season, and continuing into February of 2015.

It was also the year when the first “Big Container Garden Party Class” was held at Cathy T’s location in Broad Brook, CT.

And, I also invited special guest speakers to hold classes, such as Rhonda Niles of Gardening Inspirations, and Jim for the upcoming class by Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa on October 4th.  Reminders for this class have been emailed to attendees – don’t forget you need to get a small plastic pot for this class, but there’s still plenty of time for that.

In addition, we kicked off the first year of the Garden Walk and Talk Events at hosts’ homes – Thank you again, Louise for your Urban Veggie Garden tour, and Rhonda for your Pondering Ponds, and Lisa for the Sunny Hill Side Garden.  More tours are already on the schedule for 2015.

Finally, the big cap off of the summer was the designing and installing of container gardens for a very special outdoor wedding event.  A total of fifteen pots were assembled, delivered, positioned, and featured for the day. Phew – I get tired just thinking about how much running around I did – but I smiled throughout it all – yes, every minute – because it is my passion.

In the background of the above photo, you see some of the container gardens created and maintained for the wedding event.  The plants were in the beginning stages of growth and had a way to go when this photo was taken.  To see more of the container gardens created, check back in here again on this blog.

A Hypertufa Round Pot with Hens and Chicks

A Hypertufa Round Pot with Hens and Chicks

In the meantime, next on the agenda is the Hypertufa Making Class on Saturday, October 4th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.  The class is already full but we have a waiting list, if interested.  Jim of Ancient Hypertufa Gardens is an expert at making these earthy pots.  I’m thrilled he will be our next guest speaker as part of the Container Crazy Cathy T Class Series.

Blue was the Theme this Season

Blue was the Theme this Season

I’m not exactly sure how this happens – but every year, a theme seems to naturally evolve – and this year, it was all about blues.  Here you see another photo Karen of Debut Cinematic took for me.  The blue cloth is from Rockland, Maine – a wrap I purchased and adore.  I added it to the table to dress up the scene before her photo shoot.

The blue hand-blown wine glasses are from a place in Vermont.  They are so beautiful, I treated myself to a pair – and added them to the table too.

Also displayed is the miniature garden, which I created during Gardening Inspirations’ class on Miniature Dreamscapes by Rhonda Niles, held here in the early summer. And lastly, I recycled a baby chicken feeder to hold some Hens and Chickens plants.  Why? Just because it was fun.

The color blue also appeared on my list by way of the wedding client.  The bride specifically requested cobalt blue in her container gardens, preferably in the flowers, along with whites and lime greens.  How was this achieved, well – more will be posted on that later.

Time to hit the road to my new TRX exercise class – which was also a new item on my 2014 agenda – and this core building class has helped me get stronger, making the constant lifting and bending to work on containers and pots for my projects a bit easier.

Oh also – coming up, an Advance Master Gardening class.  To see more, check out the Cathy T Classes menu above, click to locate drop-down menus with all the details.

Cathy Testa

Container Gardens for Special Events – It Just Makes Sense

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After a very busy season, which is not over yet, I finally reached a moment where I thought I could have a little pause in my day – but then, some unexpected unfriendly hackers showed up in one of my accounts — and you know, it is a reminder you need to change your passwords as often as you change your underwear.

However, after resolutions to the interruptions of my morning – I wanted to share just one quick photo of beautiful (if I must say so myself) container gardens created and delivered this past weekend to an outdoor celebration of marriage.

Creating the containers for this special client was a really amazing adventure and honor for me, and sharing more photos on this blog is on my agenda as soon as possible.

As for now, here is a quick photo of some of them.  If you have a need for dressing up an outdoor event, don’t hesitate to contact me at containercathy@gmail.com or via a phone call or text at 860-977-9473.  Container gardens last longer and make an impact in an outdoor setting as an important decor element.  ContainerCrazyCT has rental and option to buy choices, so just ask if you wish to learn more.  

Wedding Container Gardens 2014

Wedding Container Gardens 2014 – Delivered for a client with colors and art as requested!  

NEXT CLASS – REMINDER TO ATTENDEES:

Also at this time, I would like to remind attendees of the “Hypertufa Making Class” scheduled on October 4th, 2014, Saturday @ 11 am, to please send in your payment to confirm your seat.  More information will be posted as we get closer. If you have questions, please email Cathy Testa at the email noted above.

Thank you – 

Cathy Testa