Autumn Brings Beauty and Overwintering Work for Gardeners

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I think everyone in our area of Connecticut would agree – the fall foliage colors are absolutely spectacular here this year – what a treat for the eyes to see the bright golden yellows and reds against clear blue skies. There are trees in my yard which never looked so vibrant, even the kiwi vine over my chicken coop pen is beaming more than ever, but alas, the leaves will fall and the holidays are right around the corner.

#autumn at the beach yesterday!

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In preparation for the fall, I have spent the last three weeks putting away many of my tropical plants and conducting a mini workshop on the famous succulent pumpkins. It was the first workshop offered at Container Crazy CT’s on this new fashion – Pumpkins covered with succulent plants and decor! The workshop was conducted with an Insiders Club members – what fun we had. We are testing our results based on the techniques we used to assemble and design them, and all of this will be shared in next year’s workshop – I know this workshop will grow. These succupumpkins are addicting.

#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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Yesterday, a stink bug was still sitting on one of my succulent pumpkins in my house. I had to laugh – these guys are slow moving but he didn’t move for 24 hours. There is a black plastic spider on the top and I thought, “Does he think the spider is real?” LOL.

#succulentpumpkin #autumn #stinkbugs #succulents

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Part of my autumn overwinter process included collecting seeds from Canna, Castor Beans, and other misc perennials which are stored in plastic pill bottles and kept in a dark cool place in my home for use next season. Here’s a photo of the Castor Bean (Racinus) which look like ticks! Oooooh! I also take various cuttings and do some propagation, as well as divide and repot plants to keep (as shown with the lemon grass in my prior post).

#castorbeanseeds #racinus

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If you have been watching my posts this year, you surely saw the container filled with a huge green elephants ear (Colocasia), and I had to finally take it down, such sadness, but one of my workshop attendees asked me for the leaves because she is doing some leaf castings – and so that helped soften the blow – knowing the leaves will be used for an art related project. And, just maybe she can teach us when she perfects her process of leaf casting at my workshops. I can’t wait to see her results.

#containergardening #tropicalplants #autumngardening #ensete #overwinteringplants #workshops

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The elephants ear grew very very large, at least 3 ft long leaves. Here is the bulb located at the base of the trunk shown below when I dug it up. I call it a trunk as I type here but technically base of the stems, but it looked like a trunk because that elephant ear grew very lush this year. I just adored it.

#colocasiaesculenta #colocasia #autumngarden #overwinteringplants

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Now, I will store this bulb to reuse next season. All the steps, tools, process, and products used to store my tropical plants were covered in my “Overwintering Tropical” plants workshop earlier this month. We had lots of fun as you can tell from our smiles in the above workshop photo where we are holding leaves of one of my red banana plants (Ensete). We covered everything you need to know and enjoyed a sunny day following a morning frost.

#tubers #colocasia #elephantsears #autumn #overwinteringplants #bulbs

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And I have to be honest, I was getting tired of storing bulbs, rhizomes, tubers – you name it – I had a lot of plants this year. Here’s a photo of the stack of boxes I was about to hand-truck to my unheated basement for the babies put to rest for the winter. The only good news was the weather was cooperating – it was nice and sunny almost every day – so I wasn’t working with cold hands as in years past. We had a frost on the same day I held my “Overwintering” workshop – which was perfect timing. But about 3 days later, we had a day in the 80’s – when I snuck out to go to the beach! Why not?!

Next on Container Crazy CT’s workshop list is my first ever Growing Nutritious Soil Sprouts workshop – We decided to add a week night workshop by request – so it looks like this one is underway with a few sign-up’s. I can’t wait to show this process – to grow sprouts all year round, starting now in the fall – is a great way to have fresh sprouts which are oh so healthy on your salads, on appetizers, in soups – all perfect for upcoming Thanksgiving meals, or for those moments when you want a nice warm soup on a cold winter day. I could go on and on about these sprouts but I will save that for the attendees of this workshop in November. See my site for all the details.

Next workshop. #sprouts See Two dates Nov 5, Nov 10. #containergardening

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But as busy as I’ve been the past few weeks, I still take the time to go have some fall fun – stopping by Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT to see their scarecrow competition – it was a PERFECT day – and they did such a wonderful job. I have to enter next year – my brain is already brewing with a scary container garden scarecrow.

#scarecrows #autumn #farms #halloween

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And to cap off this quick post – I have to share the photo of my beautyberry shrubs (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’). I post a picture every year around this time – these purple berries can not be beat. They are so pretty right now. I planted three of these shrubs many years ago – and I remember I followed the spacing instructions exactly, but they can be maintained easily with a good pruning every season. They are deciduous, cane-like shrubs. The branches tend to arch and the color of the leaves is a bright light green color. The purple berries are clustered and they reach their beauty in October. In winter, the leaves will drop off but the berries do hang on a long time. Seeing them makes me consider if my May 2017 workshop should entail beautiful shrubs such as this one.

#autumn #fallshrub #berriedshrub #callicarpa

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#callicarpa #berriedshrub #fallshrub #autumn

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Well, that is all folks for this Friday morning. Enjoy your Halloween Festivities if you have them on the agenda for the weekend, and don’t forget to visit my Instagram pages for many more photos of all the activity discussed above.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)


Pre-Registrations for the 7th Annual Holiday Workshop are now OPEN

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Kissing Balls for the Holidays

The term ‘KB’ is short for Kissing Balls which are balls made with fresh evergreens every year just in time for the holiday season. Kissing balls are beautiful when hanging outside on your wrap-around porch, by your entrance, doorway, or even inside the home. They are fun to make and last all the way into February when hung outside – the birds enjoy them too. They will pop by to perch on them which is lovely, especially when snow is clinging onto your freshly made beautiful Kissing Ball.

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A Large Kissing Ball

Workshop Every December

Every December, Container Crazy CT offers an early Kissing Ball and Wreath Making Holiday workshop where attendees make large sized Kissing Balls to take home. In addition to the Kissing Balls, you may elect to make a round or square wreath, long styled candle centerpiece, or cross shaped wreath.

In 2016 – We hope to offer the horse head profile shaped wreath option too. Often, Cathy T comes up with a new idea to make every season. To register for the workshop, visit Look for the Eventbrite links to the right side of the site, or mail payment to confirm your pre-registration.


10 Reasons Why Making Your Own is Best

  1. Fresh Evergreens – fresh, fresh, fresh – not old, old, old
  2. Mechanics included – You cannot find the Styrofoam ball used for less than $6 retail and wreath frames are costly too – all is included for your one item of choice.
  3. Mix of Evergreens – You select the ones you want in your creation – up to 14 varieties of very beautiful evergreens.
  4. Fun Gathering – The socializing factor, time for you with the ladies, food, festivities!
  5. Holiday Beverages included – A special themed drink to enjoy, and in 2016 – Pizza will be included. Attendees also contribute light apps as desired.
  6. No Cleanup – Cathy T does ALL the setup and cleanup – You have ALL the fun
  7. Early Décor – You put up your decoration to enjoy all month instead of waiting
  8. No Risk – Cathy T takes all the risk for you – You just show up and enjoy
  9. Originality – It is made by you with your special touches and you learn all the special tips and techniques. Every year, you will learn something new.
  10. A floral type item is included every year – last year it was variegated Holly and seeded Eucalyptus – what will it be in 2016? You have to register to find out!

To sign up, visit (our new 2016 website for workshops).

Kissing Ball Workshop_0017

Pre-Register Now!

This workshop fills up very quickly every year, so signing up early is helpful to pre-register to hold your seat. To “confirm” your seat, payment is due in advance. We currently have 21 people pre-registered as of this posting – so don’t wait. Later, there is a wait-list if you missed this year’s chance, and note that workshop appointments the week of December 5th are available for one-on-one style sessions. For a quieter option, we offer a Weekday Workshop on December 7th, 2016 at 5:30 pm.


Location of the workshops is the East Windsor section of Broad Brook, Connecticut.

Workshop Fee 2016:

In 2016, the price is one size fits all of $40 pp for any one item you elect to make. It includes tax and many benefits – so don’t miss out – We make “quality” items at larger than normal sizes you would find in retail environments. You may submit payment via mail or via Eventbrite on our site.

Cancellation Policy:

Any cancellations one week before the workshop dates are non-refundable since we work with pre-ordered live greens. Cancellations have special policies – You may elect to send an alternate the day of, or use the fee towards another workshop within one year of the workshop date. See for the details.


To see photos of all our workshops, see GALLERY.

Custom Orders:

Cathy T of Container Crazy CT and Cathy T’s Landscape Design takes custom orders for wreaths, candle centerpieces, kissing balls all month in December. See the following links for details under Holidays. Also, batches of greens may be picked up for purchase if you wish to make something special at home, such as a container filled with a mix of evergreens and your own special touches. Batch pick-ups begin the week of December 5th.

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Looking forward to seeing you,

Cathy Testa

Autumn Brings Closure and Changes


Good morning everyone,

It has become quite the busy month as I started to dissemble my various container gardens around the property in preparation for the cooler season, and held an impromptu pumpkin succulent session with my Insiders Club workshop members.

Usually our frost date hits around mid-October, so there is still time to enjoy many container gardens filled with your tropical plants, perennials, and maybe a still producing vegetable plant, like peppers – but soon enough, all will come to an end when the frost hits the foliage of our tender plants.

However, one of the beauties of container gardening is not all is lost. Many plants may be overwintered by storing their storage organs (rhizomes, corms, bulbs, etc.) or by taking cuttings and rooting them. Or by moving them (perennials) to your gardens. Some plants make good house plants too, such as succulents, begonias, etc. The list goes on.

Another thing that will keep me busy this month is planting my fall bulbs, as soon as I clear out my favorite place for them, from the lush tropical plants enjoying their last moments in the great outdoors. There is much to do still.

Lastly, the annual Holiday Kissing Ball and Wreath Making Workshop is in my beginning planning stages. Orders will take place very soon for the beautiful mix of fresh greens to be provided in my workshop for all the registered attendees.

Additionally, I’m investigating adding ‘horse head’ wreath frames, due by popular demand by my repeat (non-newbie) attendees! This is always an exciting time for me. It will be my 7th Annual Kissing Ball Workshop. It is one of my most favorite things to do as part of my business and it closes off the year absolutely perfectly. Don’t forget to register early. Details are on my website.


#containgardening #lemongrass #thaifood

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Lemongrass harvest (above) after dissembling two big pots of them. These can be rooted or cut to put in teas, soups, and I bet even soaps! As you work at splitting the root of this plant, the aroma is oh so good.

The rooted divisions may be potted up into 12″ x 12″ pots and grown to serve as next year’s thriller plant in your container gardens. Or, the edible lower portions saved may be frozen and used for months on end – great for teas to treat coughs and colds too, I read. I showed all the steps on how to take it out of your container gardens and save the pieces via my Facebook feed this week as Facebook Live videos and on Instagram.

#autumn #overwinteringplants #lemongrass #tropicalgardens #containgardening

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#lemongrass #tropicalgardens #containgardening #coolplants #lushgardens

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The removal of this plant (Cymbopogon citrathus; lemongrass) should be done before frost, by the way, unlike the Canna or Elephants Ears (Colocasia) which may be done either before or after frost if you plan to store their storage organs.

#overwinteringplants #autumn #movinginplants #containergardening

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Using my handy-dandy hand truck, I’ve managed to move some rather large pots into my garage to start some the work of taking cuttings of Coleus, digging out the elephants ears, and whatever others I can save for next year’s season. I showed it all on my video feeds, and I have to say, this elephants ear, Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, was just stunning with 3′ long stems and 23-28″ leaves! Say Ah. One client requested the leaves for her leaf casting project, and I am happy to help her out as a repeat workshop attendee. Maybe she will teach us a class on the leaf casting when she perfects her technique.

#overwinteringplants #autumn #movinginplants #colocasiablackmagic on Oct 5 before frost

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This plant’s rich black leaves are luscious. Colocasia ‘Black Magic’ can take sun to part shade, and I had this one more in shade this year, facing north. The total height was about 5′ feet by the end of the season, and the soil was kept moist, which is preferred by elephants ears. Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ is a wonderful tropical plant, and probably will be on my list again for the annual May Container Gardening Workshops.

#takingcuttings #containergardening #movinginplants #autumn #overwinteringplants #colocasia #coleus

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In my Facebook Live videos this week, I also went over cuttings, how to clean your tools, and using rooting hormone to stimulate growth. Cuttings do best when they are in warmer temperatures – so inside the home or if you have a grow room or greenhouse is best this time of year. Always important to use “healthy” stock and take them from the tips of the plants (below nodes, etc.). Of course, the types of plants, species, etc. differ on how to handle propagation, but once you learn how, you may be reusing your mother plants again and again for freebies each season. Beware of plant propagation laws, however, if you are a seller of plants – a license is required!

#overwinteringplants #autumn #containergardening #coleus

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One container garden which is very hard to part with at this moment is this one. OMG. I just love it – it is soooo full. It is the apple of my eye this season. I removed the variegated Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus coleiodes). My friends, this plant is a real keeper in my book. No bugs, no diseases, no problems. It is the one dripping down the front of this pallet planter box salvaged from a company that tossed it out.

Variegated Swedish Ivy can grow to a foot or more with a trailing in habit. It keeps going and stays strong. It has a funky smell but it doesn’t bother me at all. My nephew told me it smells like a cologne. OK, whatever, it is a keeper, and handles cooler temps in my low-temp grow room over the winter. I still have to work on the rest of this container which has an elderberry, coleus, begonia, and more.

#carex #overwinteringplants #containergardening

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In my first Facebook Live video, I showed Carex grasses and how I’ve had it in these pots along my driveway for at least 3 years. Sometimes plants which may be aggressive in the ground are excellent candidates for containers, thus this was one to show how I take care of it and store it over the winter.

And alas, it was succulent pumpkin time prior to all of this. My goal was to have a huge workshop on October 8th, but not enough attendees signed up. So, I spontaneously offered a special workshop to my Insiders Club workshop members, and the results were fantastic.

There are a couple ways to approach making these which I detailed in our workshop session. We will be testing the longevity of these and report back next year when I hope to repeat this workshop with an even larger group. In addition, during this workshop, I went over how to propagate succulents and keep them healthy in season and over the winter.

#sempervivum #agave #pumpkindecorating #succulents #autumn

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#pumpkindecor #succulents #autumndecor #containercrazyct #workshops

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#containergardens #autumn #succulents #pumpkindecorating #agave #sempervivum

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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Above made by an attendee. Love the little glass acorns and the pods she brought along as embellishments.

#pumpkindecor #succulents #autumndecor #containercrazyct #workshops

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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This one above is the winner for the evening. Absolutely gorgeous, great colors, well designed. Good job, Diane!

#crafting #diy #autumn #succulents #pumkins

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Here’s a photo I took of one I made as a prototype before the workshop.

#pumkins #succulents #autumn #diy #crafting

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Yes, it is so adorable. I can’t part with it!

Well, I still have much, much more work, and thankfully I am not dealing with a hurricane. The poor folks in Florida are facing this battle and along the way I thought of them often this week as I worked on my containers. I remembered when we experienced our crazy winter storm in October years ago, and well, probably not nearly as devastating – but it did impact us a great deal with loss of electricity and other damage, and I had to rush to put away my plants at that time as the snow began falling. I saw posts of Florida friends not only boarding up their homes, but they were rushing to take care of their gardens too in preparation for the hurricane. And some had to evacuate! We are all praying they did not face as much devastation as predicted.

Lots of #overwintering #overwintering #overwinteringplants #tropicalplants #canna #colocasia #ensete

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If you wish a hands-on experience of the overwintering steps, feel free to join me on October 15th for the workshop where I will show more.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)

#autumncleanup #overwinteringplants #containergardening #colocasiablackmagic #colocasia #colocasiaesculenta

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Cool app transforms photos from your iPhone to this!

Succulents in Pumpkins for the Insiders


Happy Fall Everyone!

It has arrived, our fall cool air – Say, Ah! After the heat of this summer, I know most of you are enjoying this transition to autumn and rainfall this week.

And of course, it is “pumpkin and mum” time – Having those out eases the pain of moving our container garden plants indoors, overwintering our tubers, corms, rhizomes, and preparing for the seasonal depression you may have when you don’t see those abundant tropical plants and flower colors out in your containers anymore.

But don’t fear – Cathy T is here. And I’m offering our very first “Insiders Club” deal to kick off the fall season.


Heads-up Insiders!

Are you a member of the newInsiders Club” and don’t know it?

The answer is YES if you have attended at least 2 of Container Crazy CT’s Workshops in the past. And this means, as an Insider, you are eligible for new deals as a way to show our appreciation for your continued loyal attendance to our programs.

We have always given “gift bags” to our attendees, so those will always continue, but starting this week, our first “Insiders Club” benefit is being offered as follows:

Succulents in Pumpkins, Thursday, 9/29, 5:30 pm

On Thursday, 9/29, yes — that is tomorrow, we are offering a Impromptu Session on Making Succulents with Pumpkins. And there is NO REGISTRATION Fee as an “Insiders Clubs” Member for this session being held tomorrow, and only Insider Club Members are eligible to attend. Again, these occasional special deals are being made as a way to say Thank You. We will be posting more about benefits as an Insiders Club Member on our site soon as well.


Only Pay for Materials

For tomorrow’s special session, you only pay for the succulents you select to use, any misc decor, and some minor materials needed – but the deal is – it is with supplies remaining and limited stock is available. These deals will pop up as great opportunities arise – which happens in the nature world. Many will be spontaneous so be on the look out for our future emails.

Seats Limited

As you know, it is the end of the planting season, and while we have nice small succulents available to work with, the selection is limited – and so are the seats – so if you wish to attend, just reply, text, or call at 860-977-9473 or


Care of Succulents

Additionally, we will go over information about care of succulents, propagation of succulents, and also note these pumpkins are “decorative” primarily for a period of time. Some succulents used may be replanted while others may not make it and we will explain how, why and what at tomorrow’s Impromptu Session – but I have to say, they are absolutely adorable – I love how they look as a centerpiece on my table! For photos, visit my blog.

What to Bring

You need to bring your own pumpkin, carving tools, and glue gun if you have one with glue sticks. Mini, Medium sized pumpkins work well. The session starts at 5:30 pm (may arrive at 5 pm if you wish), will be held in the big outdoor garage, so wear a sweatshirt. Oh, and as usual, if you wish to bring your own embellishments to add to your pumpkin, feel free to do so.

If questions, feel free to ask. Hope you can make it and watch for future emails on Insiders Club messages.

Thank you, Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)


Thanks for all the LIKES!

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Just a quick post to say thank you to my blog followers, friends, and newcomers of this blog site called Container Crazy CT.

I saw this (below) in my stats this morning!


As for this week, I’ve started doing a bit of “fall decorating” and started taking down some of my pots and container gardens – primarily the ones with vegetable plants in them.

The fall decor begins. #autumn

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I figure I have a lot to do – If you’ve ever been here – you know I have pots everywhere on my deck, in the back yard, around the house, and along the garage.

My process involves first removing all the worn out veggie plants by pulling them out, sometimes requiring a hori-hori garden knife to dig around the roots, and putting the vegetative plant parts in a bag to toss in compost piles. Then after, I will take the pots of remaining potting soil and dump them either into a larger pot somewhere in my yard or into a garden area or bin. Note: The old potting soil is utilized as a filler with compost – it won’t hold water as well in pots year after year, but can be used again as an ingredient so to speak in gardens or mixed with other organic ingredients so it is not wasted.

Green but pretty! Final harvest of my veggie summer #containergarden #containergardening

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As I worked, I collected any veggies on the plants still growing – there were the Juliet plum shaped tomatoes (green) but this summer the red ones were fantastic and I had many, many picked from a single plant in a big pot, then the oddly shaped Uba Tuba peppers which have a mind of their own – I can’t eat them if hot so my husband does the tasting, and he said those are odd cause they go either way – some sweet, some super hot. I also had a couple Tomatoe Ugly left on another plant in a pot – yup, called Ugly. They are good for cooking – but my Mom complained about their shape because they are like bumpy and lumpy –  I had given a plant to my Dad for his garden – and she just didn’t like those – LOL.

Taking down my veggie pots. #containergardening #containergarden

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I took a batch of the Stevia plant and hung what was left in the garage to slowly dry. I am not an expert at drying herbs, but figured I’d try to do so – it is a wonderful, natural sugar substitute good in teas, so maybe I’ll try it in my sun tea concoctions when I hang a mason jar in the sun with lemon, mint, sometimes cucumbers, and a dash of honey and water to make a refreshing healthy drink. Perhaps crushed Stevia will work well as a substitute to the honey in my sun teas. My sister told me one way to dry out herbs slowly is to put them on a cookie sheet and inside your car on the dash board in the sun – I will have to remember that one!

#gardening #lemongrass

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However, many of my other large container gardens will remain in place to demo at my October Workshop on Overwintering Plants. It will be held on Oct 15th – Details are on I will be showing exactly how I take down the tropicals and store them – it is more of an informal workshop – walking and talking around the yard, but registration is required. It falls when we usually get a first frost either right before or after – Mid October.

The big black pot above is one I refer to as, “Cousin It.” It is the first time I grew Lemon Grass in a pot and sold them too at my May Container Gardening Workshops – and I love how full it got – it handled the drought very well this season and intermingles between other plants, and the bottom portions are edible – so when I take this baby apart – I will take a shot at storing the edible parts of it for cooking or teas. The lemon grass can be divided also to produce more plants. Also, this pot had a purple pepper plant that did give us great peppers, and the tall Canna ‘Austrailia’ grew super tall from my homegrown rhizomes. However, they started to topple over – bummer. The green banana plant didn’t fair well. It just didn’t take off despite my constant watering routine this year which was tough this year in particular due to lack of rain.

Pots at a discount store called Ollies in Manchester. #containergardening

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I also decided to go visit a budget type store after I saw an ad for it in the newspaper and after a friend texted me to say there were pots there at good prices. Most of the pots were about half off normal retail prices I’ve seen at stores, some had a tad bit of damage, many were not really my color preferences but some were large and nice. All stacked so a little tricky to get at if you don’t have helping hands. I decided to wait and maybe return to get some for stock at my workshop next year on Container Gardening.

That’s all for today – Just some highlights. I also attended the Brimfield Antiques Fair last week and posted tons of photos on my Instagram pages. What fun that place is but I told myself to hold back at buying too much. I ended up with some small pots that look like real clay or similar to hypertufas, but they are plastic. I got a few – thinking these will be nice for succulents – perfect size!

Got these at #brimfield. Will make nice succulent planters. #brimfieldantiqueshow

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Cathy Testa


Wine Bottle Garden Art Workshop Day


Hi Everyone,

Here’s a recap of our workshop day with Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. We had a great time creating what we called, “Garden Art Creations with Wine Bottles.”

wine-glass-art-workshop-day_0004Each creation had its own unique touches or embellishments which held a special meaning to the attendees.

For example, I included a cork from a champagne bottle I had opened when celebrating a milestone. The cork sat in a box waiting for a special place, and having it be part of my wine bottle art piece was perfect.


Another attendee brought corks along with a horse image on them because she is an avid horse lover – equestrian to be exact. She used her corks along with a balanced mix of colors in her bead selections for her piece.


During our workshop I stated, “Crafting is good for the soul” — and this I believe to be truth. When you sit quietly focused, your mind wanders a bit as you start working with your hands. It is very therapeutic. At times, we would start up conversations – and during other moments, we were focused on our pieces and in the “crafting zone.”


I’m grateful we had Laura here again to be our guest instructor. She is a mixed media artist who creates paintings ranging from pets to nature to whimsical objects and anything in between. Her business is called, timefliesbylauralie.


As I’ve stated many times, I love her art style and art work. Just look at these adorable pumpkin figurines and her magnets. She has many, many more pieces and appears often at shows around Connecticut.


And at our workshop, we each were given a antique hand-stamped spoon to add to our pieces with “wine themed quotes.” She also sells spools at shows.



During our workshop last Saturday, Laura took the time to go over each step, and rather than attempt to cut our wine bottles during the class which would have taken a huge amount of time, she pre-cut them all for us and explained the process to attendees.


She also taught us about types of wire to use and why, how to assemble and work with the wire and each embellishment, and shared stories of her art and methods.


Each piece created by the attendees during this workshop was different. For example, one attendee used soft pinks in her bottle. While another used warm and hot tones for colors.


I included little charms with the words like Hope, Dream, Wish, and “Love what you do, Do what you love” on my wine bottle. In addition to using the special champagne cork I had saved, I used a bottle a friend gave me a while back so the bottle itself was special.


There is so much you could add to “adorn” your bottle, as Laura would state – she used the word “adorn” quite a bit. She got me so inspired, I’m already starting on another one – which will be a witch Halloween theme. I will be sure to post the photos of it when done.


The date of the workshop was geared for the transition from the end of summer and entering our upcoming fall, however, I learned so many other interested attendees wanted to attend but had conflicts due to final end of summer vacations or plans.


So, I think next year, we will shoot for the third week of September so more people can make it – providing we have Laura return again – which I’m hoping she will.


Speaking of Laura – I want to say, “Thank you again, Laura – You are a born artist and exceptional teacher. We appreciate your time, generosity, and spirit at our Container Crazy CT Workshops.”


Cathy Testa


Overwintering Plants, Oct 15 – Learn to store Canna, Ensete (red banana), Colocasia (elephants ears), and other plants so they may be regrown next spring in your container gardens.

Growing Your Own Nutritious Soil Sprouts, Nov 5th – Learn how to grow soil sprouts via an easy 5-7 day method for harvest indoors all fall, winter and next season.





Workshop this Saturday – Creating Garden Art with Wine Bottles

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Still Time to Sign Up for this Saturday’s Workshop

Hello Everyone,

I’m shooting off a very quick post today to let you know there is still time to sign up for this Saturday’s workshop on creating glass garden art with artistic embellishments!

Saturday, Sept 10, 2016
11 am to 1 pm
Broad Brook, CT
Cost: $35 pp (includes all supplies needed)


We will be re-purposing wine bottles (fun) and using various eclectic pieces to create a wind chime, or it can be designed to be a beautiful piece of art to hang in your garden or in your home. This is also a great item to make as a gift for someone special.

Laura Sinsigallo of “timefliesbylauralie”, is our hosted speaker once again. She makes amazing art and appears at many shows selling her unique items. We are super glad to have the opportunity to learn from her again. The techniques you learn may be repeated over and over again so many ways.

Cost and What’s Included:

The cost is $35 pp and includes the pre-cut wine bottle, wire, embellishments, and more. The time is 11 am to about 1 pm – and you may pay at the workshop (cash or check). All you need to bring is wire cutters or sharp scissors. There will be extra items if you wish to add more decor available for purchase as well.

If interested, text me at 860-977-9473 or reply to this email. Location is 72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016. We will be serving lite snacks and drinks too. What more could you ask for?! We will be holding the workshop outdoors in a very large garage.

I always enjoy this time with our attendees (newbies and non-newbies) and if you happen to be free and want to join us, please do. The class has seven attendees right now and we can definitely add more. Attendees will be receiving coupons and more goodies as well.


One last thing – when you sign up – we need to know the theme style you want (FISH, Heart or Butterfly) – as seen in the photo above of a prototype. Also, to see more, just visit our workshops site – there are details and photos, and links to Galleries of past workshops with many photos.

Thank you – Cathy Testa – for more info and details

Be on the look out for more Upcoming Workshops too – We have a potential workshop on Oct 8th for the Pumpkin Season providing we have enough attendees – so express interest now, and we have a Soil Sprouts class in November, and the Kissing Ball Workshop in December. All is detailed on the blog site. See you soon. 

Caterpillar, Moths, Bugs and Bees


Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

This week, I’ve been posting pictures of a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – well, not the moth itself yet, but its caterpillar stages before becoming a moth.

On Monday of this week, he moved to the base of a plant he’s been feasting on and began the process of making a silk cocoon. I’m glad I caught the very first stage of it – and was able to take pictures every couple of hours during the afternoon.

As noted in an earlier blog post, I spotted the caterpillar when I noticed something was eating the leaves of the plant (an elderberry in a starter pot). I am totally fascinated by this caterpillar’s coloring, horns, and well, as odd as this may sound, he kind of became my buddy. (See earlier posts of photos of him during his feasting stages.)

Every day, I’d go out to see if he was still clinging onto the stems of the elderberry, and see how much “damage” he did by feasting, and then voila – this week, I came out and he was starting his process of creating a silky cocoon (not sure if cocoon is the right term.)

I was surprised he squished himself in the base between stems/branches, and the plant label, which I never removed. The label makes a great supporting wall for him. I didn’t see him move at all when I would go out to take a look and photo.

In fact, every time I stepped out to take a photo before, he would stop moving usually and pull his head into his big body during his eating cycles in the mornings prior to the cocoon making.

Upon reading and looking it up, I discovered the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is “North America’s largest native moth” – and it is noted in references that “females can get a wingspan of six inches or more.” Cool. So it is a neat find and I’ve enjoy watching its progress.

As odd as this may sound, I have a memory from childhood of seeing a huge butterfly on a bush and running to get my parents to show them. Later in life, I thought, did I imagine this? – but I remember it being huge – similar to the photos of this moth. I will have to ask my parents if they remember this at all, or if I imagined it.

Anyhow, today, I think I’m going to prune the plant back and put a netting material over the top so nothing can get at it during the rest of the summer and into fall.

In the winter, I will either move the pot into my garage because it must experience the normal temps of winter, or put it under my steps in the front of the house.

I went to a website and asked about it – and they recommended these steps versus bringing it inside or putting it in a grow room which would be too warm.

From what I’ve learned, this moth, when it comes out – will only stick around for 2 weeks, and it is rare to actually spot the process of it coming out – but I do not want to totally disturb it and let nature take it’s course too. It is more important to me he makes it than to witness it changing into a huge, beautiful moth. Especially if it only lives for two weeks.

Ironically, earlier this season, I found black caterpillars feeding on a plant by the side of my house in a different area. I even posted a video of them and remember saying, I don’t know what they are, but I don’t like that they are eating my plant – Well, I suspect now they were the instar versions of this caterpillar because I’ve been looking at the pictures online of it’s growth process online.

Its cocoon basically got thicker and darker colored during the afternoon on Monday. By the next day, it was very dark brown where you can’t really see the caterpillar anymore inside because the layers are so thick from the silk.

He will change into a brown casing (chrysalis? I don’t know – I’m not a bug expert), eventually inside – similar to what is depicted in the Silence of The Lambs movie – like that. I am “not” gonna open it up though.

Here are some photos which I posted on my Instagram feed:

Beginnings #caterpillars #caterpillar #silkmoth #cocoon #cecropia #cecropiamoth

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

He has started. #cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Took lots of photos! Love seeing this. #caterpillars #caterpillar #silkmoth #cocoon

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#cocooning #cocoon #moth #cecropiamoth #caterpillar

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Beetle with Babies

I discovered another insect “thing” yesterday – I put out some glass jars on hanging hooks, and the rain filled one partially. There was a beetle floating around – deceased sadly (drowned), but I noticed little movements of its babies on its back. This stuff fascinates me – nature always has and always will, and I felt a little bad for the mommy – even for an insect I have these feelings at times. Not all the time though – not when they devour other plants I adore.

She drowned. Her babies on her back moving. #bugs #beetle

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Bees on my Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia, commonly called summersweet, is a deciduous shrub which blooms this time of year, and has an intense fragrance. I have only one in my yard, but I look forward to seeing and smelling it every time it starts up its white flowers.

Yesterday, I walked up to it – and of course, iPhone in hand, and I saw a bee kind of sleeping on an upright panicle (flower heads). As I moved closer to take a shot, his little arm would jump up as if he was saying stop coming towards me – it was comical – like a reflex.

Eventually he got annoyed with me and flew away which I caught on a fast video taping and his one little arm was raised like he was saying goodbye as he took off. No Joke! LOL.

#clethra #pollinatorsandflowers

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Because people are very interested in helping our bee pollinators – this is a good shrub to add to your landscape for late summer blooms to give the bees a boost – and they are certainly enjoying it right now.

September Workshop – Garden Art Creations

Also, we posted a photo of samples of the art pieces we will be making in our September 10th workshop called, “Garden Art Creations” – with wine bottles. Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie is our Special Guest Instructor. She developed three prototypes to show us what we are in for! I can’t wait.


Here are some details:


72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

Registration Fee:

$35 pp – Includes a pre-cut wine bottle per attendee, art pieces to embellish, instructions by our Guest Artist Speaker, wire, etc. You may bring additional art pieces to add and should bring your own wine corks. Bring own wire cutters if you have them.

Special Guest Speaker:

Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. Laura is a returning Guest Artist at our workshop. She taught a wind chime making class in 2015 and we are happy to have her return in 2016 for this workshop.

Date and Registration:

The date for this workshop has been scheduled for September 10th, 2016. Please refer to our site for more information, to register via Eventbrite on that site, or see our Facebook EVENT on Container Crazy CT facebook wall. Registration and pre-payment is required. Seats are limited – so please don’t wait if you would like to join us. It will be held rain or shine, and if a nice day, hopefully outdoors.

Enjoy your surroundings everyone – it is there for us to enjoy. Even without Pokemons (did I spell that right?).

Cathy Testa

Oh, and FYI, my “Ugly” tomatoes, or Costoluto Genovese, are getting bigger, can’t wait for them to ripen. They may be ugly ducklings but the flavor is suppose to be fantastic. The reason I selected them, along with Tomatoe ‘Juliet’, Tomatoe ‘Purple Bumblebee’, and Tomatoe ‘Sun Gold’ is because they are interesting – and, I like that kind of thing…

Tomatoe Ugly #containergardening

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on


Fresh Cukes, Fresh Sprouts, Fresh Tea

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Patio Snacker Cucumber

It is amazing the drinks and fresh meals you can come up with when you have just a few successful edible plants growing in container gardens!

I’ve been super impressed with the Patio Snacker cucumber plant growing in a large container garden on my deck this year. It has been growing so well and producing lots of nicely sized cucumbers with little to no problems experienced thus far.

Patio Snacker Cucumber in #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

I sold many of these plants in May at my Container Garden Workshops and some at early Farmers Markets, and I hope my attendees are having similar success with their plants.

This cucumber plant is designed for containers, which is why I selected them from my grower’s list.

It stay short and vines, but not too aggressively. With a small wooden trellis or typical cone-shaped metal tomato cage, it stays in place.

With mine, I used a tomato cage, but later, as I witness the little tendrils trying to grab onto things, I strung up some twine from the trellis to my gutters. It won’t grow up that high, but it has moved along the twine.

It is a fast grower and started offering crunchy cukes early in the season – so, I was pleased as they started to grow from the flowers. I have been harvesting about 1 to 2 cukes daily from the plant, which I share with my husband. The skin is very dark green and a little firm but not tough.

Patio Snacker Cucumber from a #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

As for watering, I water it well every morning, as I do with my tomato plant. When I say well, I hold that watering wand over the soil for a good while, letting the water seep into the soil and get down in there – it is hard to explain how long, but I’m sure I put a minimum of two gallons of water via the hose and probably even more than that for these two plants – they soak up the moisture every day – you can tell if not watered enough when the tips of the plants’ stems weep in the late afternoon.

Last nite, my husband almost gobbled a cuke down before I had the chance to tell him I wanted to combine it with my freshy grown sprouts and fresh tomatoes.

Unlike the cucumber and tomatoe plant, which are growing in big pot outdoors, the sprouts are grown inside the home – so I’m looking forward to growing sprouts year round, even in winter.

Tomato ‘Juliet’

Another container candidate which has impressed me greatly is Tomato ‘Juliet’ which I obtained from a Connecticut wholesale grower for my May workshops.

It has been growing beautifully on my deck in a large container (22″ in diameter, about 2 ft deep – same size as the cuke’s pot) since late May.

When people come over, they are stunned at the amount of green tomoatoes I have on the plant and its shear size. It is a monster now.

The clusters of plum or roma shaped tomatoes are ripening up now here and there – and again, shared with my husband.

Picked today practically perfect. #edibles #tomatoes Juliet in #containercrazyct

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

It was funny when we spotted the first ripened one, which I offered it to him, but he actually cut it in half for us to share – very sweet of him.

The tomatoes are clustered on the plant and are about twice as large as typical grape tomato as for the size of each of them.

I’ve fertilized the plant about twice with fast acting liquid tomato plant food (soluble mixed in water) but other than growing it in a large pot (which I always recommend at my workshops), providing good healthy, well-draining soilless mix specifically for container gardens with ‘some compost’ added, slow release fertilizer at the time of planting, and “daily” good soaking of watering in summer, that is all I’ve done.

So many on this plant! #tomatoejuliet #containercrazyct #containergardening #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

What I particularly like, besides the size of this indeterminate (always growing up) tomato plant, is the plum tomatoes are perfect. I mean perfect. There isn’t a blemish on them, they are firm and very tasty.

Tomato ‘Juliet’ was noted as an “All American Selections winner” on the plant tags, and I would say, it deserves this award. It has been easy to grow and is perfect for container gardening. Glad I selected it this year – and it will go on the “keeper’s list.”

Soil Sprouted Greens

Over the past couple months, or I should say in early spring, and now again in late summer, I’ve been testing out the process of growing soil sprouts.

This is different than how you grow micro-greens – My sprouts are not grown in jars, but in small trays, and take only 5-7 days from start to eating, as compared to micro-greens which I hear and read take about 20 days or so.

There are lots of benefits to growing sprouts this way, which I plan to thoroughly go over in my workshop on the process, but let’s just say I’m hooked.

The flavor varies by type of seed used, and some are bitter, hot and spicey, or mixed and sightly mild flavored – but I do know this – they are wonderful as a salad, in a salad mix with fresh lettuce, as a topping to sandwich meats, and in soups!

They are simple to grow and you can have them available – fresh every day. My goal is to set up the workshop so you have a “kit” to get started, learn every step and the key information about the sprouts and why they healthy and what not to do too so you are successful, etc.

This is the first time I’ve grown them, and sometimes I think – wow, I didn’t realize I would like them so much, and luckily, my husband loves the sprouts too! He asks me now, when are you doing another batch?!

Growing Soil Sprouts Workshop

The workshop on this will be held in November and is noted on my site. Please sign up if you are interested so we can gauge the amount of supplies we will need. Looking forward to having you join us!

Sun Brew Tea Jar

Lastly, I got into a cute project yesterday – brewing tea in a mason jar. I twined up a jar with flexible soft wire tie material used in gardening and filled the jar with cut up lemons, fresh mint from my container, a dash of honey, and voila! It stayed in the sun for two hours which was plenty of time to infuse the flavors for pouring over ice.

Tea sun jar. Yumm. #mint #tea

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

It was the perfect companion to our mixed sprouts salad with fresh tomatoes and cuke, and some cheese from last Saturday’s Farmers Market in Ellington. It all made me look a lot healthier than I am – LOL, we loved it.

Happy Thursday Everyone – Friday’s Coming!

Cathy Testa

My veggie jungle this year. July 2016. #containergardening #edibles

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

This blog is all about sharing the passion of growing in container gardens and patio pots – and this includes edibles!🙂



A Very Hot Farmers’ Market Day

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Good Morning Everyone,

Thank you to friends visiting me at the Windsor Locks Farmers Market last night, especially because it was so hot out – I think up to 92-95 degrees during the late afternoon hours.

It was a time when my face turned ‘beet’ red after setting up my table. Fortunately, there is the library next to the market grounds where I could take a minute to cool off before visitors arrived. I show up a bit early so I could move slower with this heat – it can be brutal as I unload all my tables, plants, and umbrellas.

Many people attend this farmers’ market regularly, held on Tuesdays from 4-7 pm in Windsor Locks (at their public library on Main Street), because of the veggies. And I have to say, I have become a fan of it too. Plus they have various crafters, hand-made doggy toys, local honey, and bakery items.

Towards the end of the market hours, I go get my supply of veggies for the week. One couple selling also had refreshing cucumber water with mint for us to cool off – much needed last night especially. This week, I picked up a bag of mixed onions, golden grape tomatoes, and kale. Last week, it was green and purple beans, garlic, big onions, and bakery items. They have a mix every week, some herbs, squash, etc. Lots of goodies!

At my table, where I am known as the “Container Lady,” I showed visitors my radish and broccoli home grown sprouts so they can see what they look like and discussed my upcoming workshop on “Growing Sprouts” to be held in November. All the details are on my site. They are so tasty and nutrient rich and easy to grow  in only 5-7 days, once you have the ‘know-how’ and ‘tools.’

Also, I brought along alpine and rock garden plants and talked about how these are great in rock gardens, along edges, in-between flag stones, and beautiful in fun container gardens and small pots too. Many of these plants are drought tolerant and bloom dainty flowers. Most of them are low-growing, only a few inches from the ground, but they are easy to grow and hardy here. Over time, the spread and get larger.

My healthy Greek oregano window boxes, which I’ve had for sale each week, are popular. I’m almost out of them – They are so full and fresh. I love putting oregano with pasta, feta cheese, and fresh tomatoes. Having these herbs in small window boxes are perfect.

Each herb window boxes are filled with quality soil-less mix, slow-release fertilize and have excellent drainage, perfect to take home and put on your deck to snip from all summer into fall – or put in the home by a window. And very reasonably priced – so swing by – there are almost gone. I will be back next week while supplies last.

I also have some various succulents, and displays of other creative container items each week, such as large glass terrariums filled with miniature plants and decor, or hypertufa pots with a wonderful mix of succulents.

And of course, my father’s popular birdhouses made with reclaimed wood and shingles – all hand painted. They are selling there – and some people are returning for more to add to their gardens and landscape. It is a great time to get these and enjoy them before summer is over!

My imagination is running wild each week, as I enjoy sharing creations with visitors at this market. While it was super hot yesterday afternoon, and hard to go if you would have preferred to be by the pool or in the A/C, keep it in mind as the upcoming weeks approach.

And, oh, they have music some nights, and free yoga too on select days. Don’t miss out, especially when this heat breaks.

Location Information:
Windsor Locks Public Library
28 Main St, Windsor Locks, CT 06096

If coming from East Windsor, go over the Windsor Locks bridge, take a left, the library is immediately on your right (before the little shoppping plaza). You won’t see the farmers’ market tents from the entrance, they are located in the back grassy area by the library building. Plenty of parking.

Facebook Windsor Locks Farmers’ Market Page:


Every Tuesday
4 pm to 7 pm
Thru end of September (I believe!)


Here are some photos from last night.

#containercrazyct #farmersmarket #workshops

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#succulents #alpines #farmersmarket #containercrazyct #birdhouses

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#containercrazyct #farmersmarket #alpines #succulents

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

My #farmersmarket table tonight. #sprouts

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Super hot but I'm here at the #farmersmarket

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Cathy Testa

A blog about sharing the passion of Container Gardening and combining Nature with Art. Thank you for visiting! Come back soon or “follow this blog” to receive notices of when each new post is added. We are located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT.