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.

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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.