Bring on the Easter Colors

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Tulips in Vase

Tulips in Vase

Yesterday I was determined to get some color, and since the outside was blanketed with snow on the first day of spring for 2013, I spontaneously decided to pick up some fresh tulips while at the grocery store.  I placed them in a green glass pitcher and added some white twigs – and voila, the color arrived.

Begins to Open

Begins to Open

Within the first five minutes or so, I could see the tulips petals begin to expand from the warmth and water uptake.  I thought it is amazing how quickly they respond to being admired.

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

So, because I’m obsessed with plants and flowers, I took a shot of the petals opening up.  Finally, I thought, I got some color in this house.  Then I placed one yellow tulip by my window to capture the sun’s rays.  Yellow happens to be my favorite color for tulips and roses.

Yellow petals capture the sun

Yellow petals capture the sun

This little bit of activity prompted me to go dig out a box of Easter decorations from my basement and put out some bunnies and other Easter goodies to brighten up the home inside.  It was time to bring on some Easter colors.

Easter Bunny Lady

Easter Bunny Lady

I also installed a container garden display outside of my client’s business.  Usually I include some daffodils, hyacinths, or other spring blooming plants – but it is only in the mid 20’s to mid 30’s, and I thought, I’ll jut put out some decorations and as soon as Easter is over, I’ll add some live plants.

It was cold outside as I was working with the wind blowing, and I was a bit frustrated of not having spring-like temperatures, but this process cheered me up.  The bunnies faces are too adorable – and the colors reminded me of the tulips I put in the house earlier.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

When I work on the displays for this client, the customers walking into his store always compliment me – saying, “You do such a good job!”  They just love the change of the seasonal displays – and that makes me happy.

Cute Couple

Cute Couple

Aren’t these pair of bunnies so cute?  I think so.  Seeing them made me think of the Easter goodies and colors as a kid.  I always loved getting Easter baskets and cards when I was a child, and as an adult, I also love preparing and giving Easter baskets to my nieces and nephews, and still do.

One year, my Aunt hid Easter baskets all over my parent’s house.  I remember us running through the house, trying to find our basket. The rule was if you found someone else’s basket, you could not give it away – where it was hidden, so we would scream and laugh when we would find other’s – for our brothers or sisters.  Thank you Aunt Lucy – I remember you doing this for us!

I miss the “Candy Castle” store we use to have in our town where you could buy homemade chocolates.  The smell would be so alluring when you would walk into the place, but now it is gone.  Another fond Easter memory.

Two barrels

Two barrels

There are two barrels in front of this store, and the other one has a male bunny.  I didn’t take a photo.  Lovely bag of rock salt in the back, eh?  It is the little hint that we have snow right now.  But – Spring is Coming – It is coming – right???  In the meantime, get into the Easter spirit.  Add some color inside if you can’t get it outside yet.

Container Crazy Cathy T
http://www.cathytesta.com
860-977-9473
ctesta@sbcglobal.net

From Jar to Flower Vase

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Clever Idea

Clever Idea

My friend and I both thought these little glass jars, resembling mason jars, with holes drilled in the top cover to insert fresh cut flowers, was very clever.  We spotted them at the Boston Garden & Flower Show last weekend.  I didn’t buy one, because frankly, I thought, gee, I could make one of these myself – I have tons of old mason jars stocked in my garage, some are made with blue glass.  And I know how to use a power drill!

The vendor was smart to show how these could be used by displaying an empty jar next to a filled one, otherwise, it may not have popped into your mind.  I also thought potpourri could be used in these too. Garden shows are great for providing inspiration and ideas, and you have the option to either buy a handcrafted item, or recreate the idea yourself should you have the skills and time.

While I’m at it – Here’s another really clever idea, taking twigs to create a screened in area outside.  Look at this next photo.  Twigs and sticks were inserted into tall tubes. The tubes were weighted down with rocks.  When I saw this at a garden exhibit, I again thought – gee, I could do this myself at home.  I tend to stock up on twigs for holiday decor, and there’s always plenty of yard debris from fallen trees.  Instead of buying a screen, why not make one like this?!  You could use all kinds of bases, maybe even some concrete blocks with the holes in them.  Notice in this set-up, the silver of the tubes used were as a decor room theme.  The chair and table are silver too, so it works well together. I apologize for not providing the designer’s name to give the credit – I neglected to write it down, but you can find all the garden exhibitors, designers, and vendor names via the show’s website at http://www.bostonflowershow.com.

Clever Idea of Twigs in Tubes

Clever Idea of Twigs in Tubes

Container Crazy Cathy T
http://www.cathytesta.com
860-977-9473
ctesta@sbcglobal.net

Face Pots

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Face planters - My Fav!

Face planters – My Fav!

I love finding unique pots with faces on the front, and at the Boston Garden & Flower Show last weekend, I spotted these cute Garden Guardian pots handcrafted by Valerie McCaffrey.  I picked up two small ones immediately.  If I wasn’t being lazy, I would have purchased the larger sizes, but they are available online.  Aren’t these cute? Faces are positioned to point upwards, so if you place these within a garden bed or container garden, you will see them as you walk by.  Funny expressions with slanted noses!  (P.S. If any of my local fans are interested in these, let me know, I can work on a group order for us.)

Container Crazy Cathy T
http://www.cathytesta.com
860-977-9473
ctesta@sbcglobal.net

3 Quick Examples of Color and Plant Combinations from the Boston Flower & Garden Show

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Great combination of colors

Great combination of colors

No . 1:  Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Sweet Kate’ with Daffodils and Hosta

This weekend, at the Boston Garden and Flower Show, I admired a combination of plants with a monochromatic color scheme utilizing hues of yellow and greens.  It was displayed at one of the garden exhibits and included yellow blooming daffodils (Narcissus), variegated hosta, and Tradescantia x andersoniana ‘Sweet Kate.

‘Sweet Kate’ was placed between the daffodils and hosta.  This perennial, with the common name of Virginia spiderwort or widow’s tears, has long strap-like leaves, resembling long blades of slender grass.  The leaves of this cultivar have an iridescent yellow color, most showy in full sun conditions.

At the base of this planting bed, an ivy plant was tucked within which had leaves with yellow margins, repeating the hues of yellow in the grouping of plants.  Purple blooms of Muscari armeniacum, grape hyacinth, with urn-shaped flower clusters on short flower stalks created a complementary color (purple opposite yellow on the color wheel).  It was a soft and spring like combination.

Softly repeating yellows

Softly repeating yellows

I thought to myself, this designer carefully selected plants that worked well together in regards to subtle colors, and it also had a nice woodland feel.  I think it is a good example of simplicity, and a perfect combination to use in spring container gardens, with the daffodils serving as a “welcoming” plant, ‘Sweet Kate’ as a filler along with the hosta, and the ivy as a spiller.  It was charming and calming, so I took a couple quick photos to post on my blog, and share with you.

No. 2:  Heuchera with hot red Tulips and Euphorbia

Another arrangement, located at the next display, was a combination of intense red blooming tulips combined with the bright leaves of a Heuchera perennial at the base, and yellow flowers of a Euphorbia perennial to the left of the tulips.

The display was elevated with a mirrored window frame in the background to capture the colors in its reflection. Again, the designer was thinking of color, but in this case, a harmonious relationship of red, yellow, and green was utilized.

The red tulips were the thrillers, and caught your eye from a distance, adding some heat, while the yellow was a bit less intense but still created a warm tone to the grouping of plants, quite opposite of the soft hues displayed in the prior exhibit at the flower show.

Red Tulips with Euphorbia and Heuchera

Red Tulips with Euphorbia and Heuchera

The Euphorbia, left to the tulips, with yellow flowers at the tips, echoed the bright yellow colors of the Heuchera tucked in at the base of the grouping of plants.

The Euphorbia perennial, known as spurge, has flowers with yellow bracts turning an orange-red.  In the center, you can see a dab of red again repeating the red tulips’s color.  The leaves have a reddish midrib.  These small pops are like the brush strokes in a painting – adding a bit a flare you may not consciously notice, but feel.  Take notice in the next photo, there’s some yellow strokes at the base of the red flower petals on the tulips.

I didn’t write down the Heuchera’s cultivar name from the display, but it reminded me of Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ with bright citron yellow foliage.  Common name is coral bells. Heucheras make great fillers in container gardens in spring and last well into mid to late summer. And while the Euphorbia flowers may fade, the foliage will last to the end of summer too.  Both plants are easy to grow.

Close up of red Tulips with Heuchera

Close up of red Tulips with Heuchera

The arrangement using hot reds and yellow with solid, reliable greens immediately reminded me of one of my favorite spring container gardens I assembled a couple years ago, using a pop of red and probably the same bright yellow Heuchera, with some red repeating colors from a Euphorbia.  See here:  Cathy T’s container garden:  spring combo

The next plant combination may not be for everyone, but it caught my attention.  I really like foliage in designs, and this one put together an unusual grouping. In the center, a very tall bamboo plant is showcased, with Helleborus orientalis ‘Brandywine’ perennial sitting below at the base and Mondo grass. Who would have thought these would work together?  But they do.

Bamboo with Helleborus perennial

Bamboo with Helleborus perennial

No. 3: Fargesia nitida (bamboo) with Helleborus ‘Brandy Wine’ and Mondo Grass

I also liked how they alternated the Helleborus plant at the base with what I believe is a Mondo grass.  Again, foliage shapes and forms work well. The Asian styled walls and windows make the foliage plants stand out more and draw your eye in to the design area at the same time.

Helleborus plants happen to be one of my favorites because of their coarse semi-evergreen foliage, deer-resistant trait, and early flowering in late winter to early spring. Hellebore is the common name.  It has cultivars with flower colors in dark plums to soft pinks, whites, and more pale colors.  Hellebores also make excellent long lasting container garden plants as fillers, lasting well into fall. They are a “solid” plant to use in containers and can be transplanted to your gardens when the season is over.  I like how the basal leaves are tough, and some have a little bit of serrated edges.  It is a partial shade to full sun plant and fairly drought tolerant.  Some are starting to poke out of the ground right now, as we enter spring.

These are just three quick examples of color and plant combinations I saw at the show – there were many more.  There was even a display covered in fake snow, which was so appropriately timed – as we got snow fall yesterday – one day before the “First Day of Spring” which is today, March 20th.  I hope it melts quickly so we can go get some of these spring flowers and start adding some color to our porches and gardens soon!

Snow covered display

Snow covered display

Container Crazy Cathy T
(860) 977-9473
ctesta@sbcglobal.net
http://www.cathytesta.com