What’s Coming Up – Besides Your Seeds!

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Hey Everyone, just a quick hello and updates on what is coming up!

June 17, Saturday
South Windsor Farmers Market
Free demo – How to Grow Your Own Micro-greens (this topic is still very popular, and you may do this year-round, come learn how!) – 11 am demo time. Will also have plants for sale along with Starter Kits for the micros, hanging baskets, and more.

See the Flyer: SW Market Flyer 2017

July – Date to be Announced
New Terrariums Workshop at a New Location!
New Cidery in Stafford Springs, CT
Hop on over to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to learn more, or check out their website. We will be offering another fun filled terrariums workshop. Details to be announced very soon. Stay tuned.

New Plant Arrivals
Thank you to all visiting me at the new shop where I have my plant showcases (address below), plant gifts, seeds, birdhouses, fertilizer, and garden decor for sale.

This week, we have new arrivals for plants – see WorkshopsCT.com for the newly posted feature – ferns, garden signs, and succulents continue. I am there every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, and the shop is open every day of the week too.

It is a great place to pick up a book if you are an avid reader – I have met many there, as well as authors – it has been rewarding to meet the various people there – and new gardening plant lovin’ friends.

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Seeds – It is not too late to sow!
You still may sow many types of seeds, which we have quality, 100% Certified Organic seeds in stock at the shop right now. With this cool weather, maybe being a little late sowing will work out because the damp soil may rot tender seedlings if you put them in already and still need more to replace any – Consider our seeds by Hudson Valley Seed Co. See http://www.WorkshopsCT.com for more details.

Address: 869 Sullivan Avenue, South Windsor, CT in BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More. The plaza also has a pet store, chiropractors offices, nail salon, exercise place, and United Bank. Look for the plaza adjacent which has a Dunkin’ Donuts and Red Onion Pizza restaurant.

First Day of Summer
Is it true? Summer is coming? It better. This darn cold damp weather – We all want sun. The first day of summer is June 21st, only 2 days after Father’s Day on June 18th, it will be here before you know it.  We have had cool temps, lots of rain, and less warmth but I have faith it is coming – Be prepared, get your plants now if you haven’t already.

One big benefit of this cool spring, however, is my perennials outdoors are outstanding – the bugs haven’t been as prevalent, and the flowers are just gorgeous – but summer IS coming – Get your planted gifts, seeds, and decor from Container Crazy CT while supplies last – Many of our planted gifts are perfect for indoors too – consider them as a gift for Dad’s office or for birthdays, special occasions, graduations, etc – We offer Gift Certificates as well.

Happy first Monday of June everyone!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Next Up: Container Workshop in Vernon, CT at Strong Family Farm, Sat. May 20th

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We had a great time at my workshop last Saturday – and we didn’t get rained on, thankfully! But, if you missed our session, there is another opportunity to join us on Saturday, May 20th, 10 am at Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT on West Street.

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As noted on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com, where you may read all the details, our plant theme this year is indoor air purifiers and flashy fancy foliage houseplant style! Don’t let that word “houseplant” fool you – the design arrangements you may create at this workshop are GORGEOUS and at a great value. Get them while they are hot!

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My workshops are set-up so you have everything needed at your finger tips – you show up and have all the fun. You only need to bring your pots – and, this year’s pots are smaller to medium sizes because of the type of plants which we are using in this year’s theme (10″-12″-15″ in diameter and depth not deeper than width). Get creative – someone brought a soup tureen last weekend, which made a wonderful centerpiece with these plants. The pots should have drain holes or we will drill them for you.

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There are many types of pots you may use. Just take a look at my Instagram feed or Container Crazy CT page for inspiration.

Saturday – May 20th – Strong Family Farm – 10:00 am 

And, the weather is predicted to be gorgeous on Saturday. We most likely will be holding this session outdoors by the farm’s big historic barns on Strong Family Farm’s property (BTW, they have chickens to see, and also a nice farm stand which opens in the summer.)

This is one of the few historic farms standing in the Vernon area. You can feel the history’s energy when there. A portion of your registration fee ($20) is donated to the farm to help support their renovations and events.

The morning will be a great creative day where you learn a lot about soil types on the market (I know they can be confusing!), various fertilizers, tips for success at growing and maintaining plants in your patio pots and container gardens, and more. I hope you will join us. Handouts for reference are provided for all attendees.

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The Plants

Again, these are low-light, bright-light, (shade or dappled sun outdoors) type of plants, and we have some flowering candidates too, along with started elephant ears – and all are foliage fantastical in my book. Lots of texture in these designs. Plus many of these tropical style houseplants do wonderfully in our summers outdoor here.

We also have a stock of mixed succulents if you prefer to create a sun loving design with these perfect drought tolerant candidates.

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Cost

$20 to register plus cost of plants you select at the workshop. You may purchase professional soil mix at the workshop or bring your own bag. We will have other amendments available for purchase as well. CT Sales Tax applicable.

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Easy Registration:

You may text me at 860-977-9473 if you want in. If you prefer to prepay by credit card, please visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site to pay online via EventBrite.  Or email me if preferred to indicate your interest in joining us. We’d love to have you do so.

Thank you – Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Thank you for Attending!

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The Grand Opening Celebration at the bookstore, where I have been showcasing my plants, products, and gardening items, was so much fun. There was a great turnout and I met many new faces, which I want to say was so nice – in addition to having friends and family stop by.

Thank you for attending and supporting local small businesses in and around our towns. It really was a treat to be part of it all. And special thanks to the bookstore owner, Cynde Acanto, for having me part of their opening celebration day.

There has been so much going on, and I have my big container gardening workshops coming up starting soon, with the first session happening on Saturday, May 13th, which is one day before Mother’s Day!

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I have had many mom and daughter teams attend my workshops in the past, and if you want an idea to take Mom to somewhere to make her happy – consider one of my Gift Certificates. They are redeemable towards workshop registrations and plants for select items.

They are available via my www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site or by visiting the BOOK CLUB Bookstore in South Windsor, CT (see address below). Each has a beautiful plant related photo on the cover.

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and I put out some themed plant gifts in the store for that – which I loved doing since I just recently traveled to Cabo, Mexico with my husband. While there, I picked up some special finds – all hand-made and hand-painted art – perfect in terrariums and for succulents. Friends stopped by to grab some right away. Especially for those special people born on May 5th – it is perfect for gift giving.

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Also, I’ve been taking custom orders at the shop along with offering new items weekly. There are terrarium kits in stock along with terrarium plants, succulents, cacti, and more. I’m also accepting one-on-one sessions if you can not make a workshops date. My friend from the corporate days came to a session and made this beautiful terrarium in a jumbo bowl (above photo). She scored bunnies that I swear look like chocolate. We had a very nice session that day. And, by the way, I’ve added another terrarium’s workshop date on June 10th. Visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for the location and time.

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I’ve made some staghorn fern wall boards with smaller boards for people who’ve mentioned they’d like one on a smaller scale. And there are seeds available by Hudson Valley Seed Co., which is one of my fav seed co’s – all 100% Certified Organic, Open Pollinated and Heirloom. Swing by before they are all gone – I’m also offering a Seed Starting Talk soon (see WORKSHOPSCT.com).

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But the list doesn’t end there – it just keeps growing. My father’s adorable birdhouses are stocked in the store, which I recently added heavy duty garden stakes to – this is a great way to put them up immediately – or put them in your big container garden. It makes a wonderful pop of color to your plant arrangement. And a home for the birds.

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Many of my friends and workshop attendees have stopped by to see all and I can’t thank them enough for showing support of my endeavors. It really makes me feel valued when they pop by and visit. I’m having so much fun and have been very busy adding more workshops and making new items.

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Don’t forget – for those available during the day, I’m offering a free container gardening talk at the bookstore at noon on Tuesday, May 9th, and a restaurant in the adjacent plaza (Red Onion) is offering a discount to my attendees if they wish to pick up a grinder to bring with them during my talk, which is on my “5 Must Do’s for Container Gardening Growth Success.” Just ask for Steve, the new restaurant owner, and say Cathy T from the bookstore sent ya. It is a 45 minute quick talk and demo since I have to get back to work immediately following. I hope to see you there.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Address to Bookstore:

BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More
869 Sullivan Avenue
South Windsor, CT 06016
United Bank Plaza
Dunkin’ Donuts and Red Onion Restaurant next door

Grand Opening Celebration this Saturday, April 29th at BOOK CLUB

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Good Spring Morning Everyone,

Just a heads-up, the BOOK CLUB Bookstore, 869 Sullivan Avenue (United Bank Plaza), South Windsor, CT is holding their grand opening celebration this Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

We hope you will swing by to say hello, visit my showcase at the bookstore, and learn about the store’s many offerings.

I will be there to answer any questions you may have regarding my workshops, plant gifts, and container garden installations.

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A Happy Customer with New Bert’s Birdhouse for her garden!

Available Today

Seeds by Hudson Valley – 100% Certified Organic

Houseplant Gifts of Small Carry Sizes

Succulents and Cacti

Bert’s Birdhouses – Now on Stakes!

Terrarium Showcases

Terrarium DIY Kits (underway – hope to have at the Grand Opening)

Workshop Flyers

Micro-greens Starter Kits

Workshop Gift Cards – Perfect for Mother’s Day

Seed Sowing Kits (underway – hope to have at the Grand Opening)

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Beautiful single Soft Succulents in Stock today!

WORKSHOPS Coming Up

I plan to hold a lunch time hour soon to repeat my free Cathy T’s 5 Must Do’s for Container Gardening demonstration for those who missed it last weekend on Earth Day – please stay tuned for available dates and locations.

May 4 – Micro-greens demonstration at the bookstore

May 13, 17, 20 – Container Gardening Workshops (3 venues this season for you to choose from). Registrations are now open.

May 25 – Basic Seed Starting at the bookstore (and I plan to offer this demonstration during a lunch hour earlier this month as well – location TBD.)

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WORKSHOP INFORMATION AT

Be sure to visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to learn of this year’s plant theme and all the details of our upcoming May Container Gardening Workshops. I’m very excited to continue offering this annual hands-on workshop for all my attendees and new friends.

Thank you for supporting small businesses in our local areas!

We couldn’t make it without you – I appreciate everyone’s recent visits and hope you will be visiting on Saturday, 4/29, 10:30 am-12:30 pm, if you haven’t popped in yet.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Hudson Valley Seeds 100% Organic Seeds are in stock – Kits are Coming!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Terrarium Time!

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This weekend is Container Crazy CT’s first session on making terrariums.
Our workshop is being held at the BOOK CLUB Bookstore hosting facility on
Saturday (tomorrow), 4/8, 11 am. Located in South Windsor.
Note: We can squeeze in one or maybe two more last minute attendees if you are interested!

We are offering a second session at Container Crazy CT’s workshop space in Broad Brook on Wednesday, 4/12, 5:30 pm. This session has a few seats open.

To sign up, visit our sister site WORKSHOPSCT.com or text me at 860-977-9473.

THE TERRARIUM PLANTS

I’m super excited because my terrarium plants are just the right size, adorable, and healthy. Container Crazy CT works hard to make sure your plants selections are fresh and new for every workshop. Lots of love goes into their care.

At the workshop, 3 plants for your terrarium are included, but you may decide to buy more if you really want to ramp it up in your glass vessel. We have many selections. And we go over all the maintenance, care, and more in the workshops.

Here’s a sneak peek. To see many more, visit my Instagram feed.

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Don’t forget to check out our upcoming workshops:

May Container Gardening (3 dates available)

Basic Seed Starting Demonstration (to be posted soon!)

How To Grow Micogreens Demonstration (2 dates available)

STARTER KITS

Container Crazy CT is offering Microgreens Starter Kits and soon to be added are Terrariums Packaged Kits! If you can not make a workshop, these are available.
Stop by the BOOK CLUB (869 Sullivan Ave., S. Windsor) or contact me for more information.

Thank you – and enjoy the break in the rain today…

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
WORKSHOPSCT.com

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“Combining Nature with Art”

 

First Kokedama Workshop, and The Next

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Last Saturday was the first time I held a workshop on making botanical wall art and kokedama with staghorn ferns. I think it was a success – Everyone’s piece came out great and we had the best time chatting plants, spring’s coming, and life events in general.

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This Wednesday, March 22, I’m offering another session so I’m putting the call-out again. I hope I’m not driving everyone nuts with my Facebook posts, but they are just so amazing to make and my plants are beautiful – I’d hate for anyone interested to miss out!

IT’S SPRING, RIGHT?!

While snow is still on the ground on our first day of spring (officially today), we can create right now to enjoy the coming of glorious days ahead. It won’t be long; we are getting closer to sunny days and warmer temperatures.

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THE PIECE YOU MAY MAKE

Kokedama balls are hung from string or twine, and positioned inside the home by a bright window. They are very ZEN and influenced by Bonsai. The Wall Art is a statement piece and also the plant is a bright light (not full sun) lover. If you have a room with some bright light – it will thrive. Both may be moved outdoors after our frost in spring time (what I tell people is move them out when it is safe to plant tomatoes).

THE WORKSHOHP LOCATION AND TIME

The location of Wednesday’s session is at the BOOK CLUB Bookstore, 869 Sullivan Avenue, South Windsor, CT 06074 (bookclubct.com). I have been noting that it takes a full two hours to make the Wall Art option, but the Kokedama balls take less time – yet, are as much fun to create.

The start time is 5:30 pm for this workshop – however, if you are interested in making the Kokedama ball, and can’t get out of work right at 5:30 pm – you may arrive a bit later as this item takes less time to make. Just let me know.

The main thing is I need to know very soon if you wish to attend; please contact me so that I will bring enough materials with me for all attendees. Plus, the wall art board requires a bit of pre-work, and I will do that prior for confirmed attendees.

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WALL ART CANVAS BOARD

Speaking of the Wall Art board – My wall canvas board is custom made and heavy duty. Many other places, where you may see classes similar to mine offered, well, I am going to be honest – a cheap board is usually used. I custom ordered my canvas boards – built to “last” because of how these plants are watered. Over time, I want to ensure you have a nice product – and at a nice size too. This is my style. To give it all I can so you enjoy what you create and take home.

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THE FEES

The fees are separate based on what you wish to make. Wall Art is $45 plus CT Sales Tax. The Kokedama is $30 pp plus CT Sales Tax. I also have a few other plant candidates in stock if you would like to make the item with a different plant (button ferns, Sanseveria, living moss, and flame plants, etc.) The fee includes the plant, materials, instructions, and more for the item selected.

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TO ATTEND

Just text, email me, or call by end of day Tuesday (tomorrow).

860-977-9473

containercathy@gmail.com

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Peanuts, Seeds, and Cuttings

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Back to going through my downloaded photos of 2016, and discussing the next 10 or so.

 

Peanuts!

At the East Windsor Farmers’ Market last summer, one of the farmers had a batch of peanut plants – and I was surprised to learn they grow in the ground. Who knew?!

As noted on Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts website, “Many people are surprised to learn that peanuts do not grow on trees like pecans or walnuts. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. The peanut plant is unusual because it flowers above ground but the peanut grows below ground. Planted in the early spring, the peanut grows best in calcium rich sandy soil.”

Well, I’ve been thinking, if they grow in the ground, flower on top, and are easy to handle – these could be a very interesting container gardening candidate which I will research more on and get back to you when I get around to trying them out. They sure do make an interesting conversation piece.

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Moon Flower Seeds

The next photos were all about seeds, which I was collecting from a Moon Flower plant growing in a container garden on my deck and climbing up the railings of my entrance steps.

I’ve always been fascinated by the content of seeds – from my early childhood. It was a common thing for me to grab a seed pod found in the wild to inspect the insides. Well, here I am in my fifties, doing it again.

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I decided to slice one seed pod open to investigate. You can see the seeds in the cavities. This one was not mature yet.

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They look a bit like corn kernels. This was taking place at the end of the season, but I went back to photos earlier in the year to show the seeds from which these plants were started from.

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As you can see, they are much smaller, brown (ripened) for sowing, and harder, versus the ones I was investigating which were white, bigger, and soft.

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I purchased a packet of the Moon Flower seeds from the Seed Library of Hudson Valley Seed Library. They sell seeds every year at the CT Flower and Garden Show (which, coincidentally, kicks off today in Hartford, CT.).

The reason I was attracted to their seeds in particular is because of the art work on their seed packs. Each seed type has an artist’s interpretation of the flowers or plants, and many of the works are absolutely beautiful, colorful and whimsical.

In addition to their colorful seed packets, the seeds are well packaged with instructions. To date, every type of seed I’ve obtained from their packets grow well with no problems. I’ve become of fan.

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I kept waiting for the seed pods, which formed on the plant late in the planting season, to ripen, dry up and turn brown, but a fall frost hit them before it got to that point. In fact, the photo above of the seed pod is one which was damp from a frost and unusable. I will have to find the photos of the Moon flower blooms because they were fantastic. I really enjoyed looking at them last year. It reminds me I should check my seed stock to see if I have any remaining from that original envelope and sow some next month in my grow room to get them started.

Coleus Cuttings

Ah, I remember this day – taking in one of my container gardens, again in the fall season to disassemble it and collect the valuable and reusable parts.

The Coleus was dug out and I starting taking cuttings so I could root them to over winter in my low temp grow room. It was successful. I have a few babies still hanging in there. I remember showing the tools I used in my Overwintering Session held every October, and how I clean them, etc.

You can see in the above photos – there was also a Rhubarb plant (Victoria) which did really well, and I hope it will return in the pot this year. I kept the plant and pot in my garage this winter.

The ‘Black Magic’ elephants ear was just amazing with their rich and lush colors. This plant was also dug up from the pot and I cleaned off the tubers to store in peat in my unheated basement over the winter. I will be checking on them in a month.

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Rooting hormone was placed on the cuttings stem end tips, but you may also just stick the Coleus cuttings in a jar of water, and the roots will appear on the ends, as an alternative method.

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Or if you happen to get a clump of roots still attached to the plant as you separate it and work at the cuttings, you may just re-pot it this way to keep growing.

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Also in this container garden was a hot pepper black (Black Pearl) which I absolutely love using in mixed container gardens because of the dark toned foliage, and the peppers turn from green to purple to red by the end of the season. They are super hot though – difficult to eat but are lovely to look at. The plant may be saved as a houseplant or kept in a low temp grow room and may make it. I didn’t bother saving that one last year.

Well, that was the next lot in my downloaded photos. When I take the time to look back on photos, I amaze myself at the amount of activity I did last year, and it will only grow from here. The gardening chores (well, fun – not chores) never end when you are fascinated by plant life and all the beauty it brings to your spaces, indoors and out!

New Venue, Workshops, and Plants

This year, as noted in prior posts, I have a new venue to show my plants, offer workshops, and answer customer questions in South Windsor. Additionally, my May Container Garden workshops will be a new style – House plants! I’m excited to be offering plants which benefit the air inside and add stylish decor outside – and that is the fun of the plant world – always learning, experimenting, and enjoying new plants.

The workshop information is continuously being updated on my site, www.WORKSHOPSCT.com so be sure to check it out and pre-register early. And you may learn about my new venue on the site as well. I will be there starting March 11th.

In the meantime, enjoy this spectacular warm up we are getting today – I am SURE it will make you feel like spring is almost here.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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List of Workshops Coming Up – Be Sure to Register Early

Planning for the Unexpected

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This week was kicked off by a sensational Super Bowl game, which I know not from watching it but from reading all the excited posts about the game the very next day on Facebook.

Because I am not a sport’s fanatic, I didn’t stay up to watch the game, but it was very entertaining and inspiring seeing all the comments on Monday morning from friends’ posts, which spurred my interest for sure.

Fortunately, we had recorded the game before going to bed on Super Bowl Sunday.

I have to admit, my motivation for recording the game was to see what Lady Gaga would do for her performance, but Steve also wanted to view the game the next day after work.

Due to all the hoopla on Facebook, we both were anxious to see the final seconds in particular as soon as Steve got home from work Monday evening.

As we were viewing it, however, an unexpected prompt appeared right before the last 3 minutes on our TV recording system indicating we ran out of recording time.

ACK! How did that happen?

The game went into over time and I guess that is why. You can’t imagine how disappointed we were.

What a bummer.

That rule of “what can go wrong, will go wrong” occurred in that moment, and I’m sure we will never record something without considering the over time factor ever again.

I decided to start this blog post with the fact we experienced an after-game excitement, but then a bit of let down, but no matter, the whole event was fun regardless, and we moved on, learned from it, and said well, better planning next time.

This year, I believe, will be filled with excitement at Container Crazy CT because I am offering more new workshops. And lots of “planning” is involved.

My workshops have already begun for 2017 and many plans are underway for more and new ones – from ordering plants, posting updates, letting everyone know what is coming up, and more. There are many steps involved, you can’t imagine. And in the gardening world, factors like climate, plant availability, changes in season – are out of our control, but we do our best to look ahead and consider the unexpected’s.

My workshop offerings start off with this weekend’s, for our second annual “Flower Arranging Workshop” – and all seats sold out. I’m thankful the big snowstorm coming Thursday is before Saturday when we will have a great day learning about floral design and succulents in floral arrangements. But we do plan ahead and have snow plows always ready and a backup date “if” it a big storm was to occur on our schedule dates.

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The next workshop up is my “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop, which I’m even more excited about and have all planned out – Hopefully no surprises will occur at the last 3 minutes – but we adjust – as we always have, which is often the case in the gardening world. This a new workshop with a living plant and custom made canvas board. The creativity will be happening in this event because there are many opportunities to do so.

Following the March “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop – being offered two times, one session in Broad Brook and the other in South Windsor, we will have a building “Terrarium Bowls“, and of course, my annual “Container Gardening Workshop” is being held in May again on several dates in Broad Brook, Vernon, and South Windsor.

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To learn more about all of them – and to plan ahead, please visit:

www.WorkshopsCT.com

Be sure to stop by so you don’t run into overtime and miss the excitement or opportunity to be part of it – like Steve and I did with the game. Seats are limited in some sessions so pre-registering early is recommended.

Hope to see you there,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9743 (texts are welcome)
containercathy@gmail.com

Container Crazy CT’s blog is all about combining nature with art, plants, and workshops.

Plants Around the Coop

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It’s Friday again!

And here I am, posting pictures from 2016 in the order of being downloaded to one massive folder.

Here’s the next 6 or so…

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This photo is from the back side of my chicken coop. I attempted to have chickens here at my home 3 times, but it doesn’t work out due to predators in the woodland area around my yard.

The first time we got chickens, we attempted to let them free range in our yard after they were here for a while.

One night, after getting back from dinner, one of our chickens was roosting on the railing of the steps by our home’s entrance door. We were surprised to see it huddled by the corner of the house on that railing.

This was odd, and I suddenly remembered that we forgot to close up the chicken coop before going out to eat!

Steve carried the chicken back to the coop in our backyard, but unfortunately, he was greeted by a trail of feathers from the chickens which were not so lucky – or as smart as this one. A predator had gotten them all.

Every time I attempt to do another round of chickens, they get attacked or stalked. The chickens would go to neighbor’s homes to free range and this would frustrate me. I thought, “Why on earth won’t they stay in my yard? It is huge, there is a luxury pen for them, and what more could they ask for?!”

A farmer once told me it is because they feel threatened, and this made sense. We finally gave up on trying to have chickens here. Too many foxes and coyotes.

The chicken pen and adjoining enclosed coop have been empty, and I’m trying to think of what creative way to use the pen part – which is covered by two beautiful kiwi vines which produce a bit of fruit each season now (they require about 5 years to produce, and require a male and female plant.)

As far as the enclosed part of the chicken coop goes – it has become a storage shed.

The photos above are of that ‘now shed’ on the back side. I put an old pallet box I found there and filled it with left-over soil from containers or projects.

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Last year, I plopped one of my elephant’s ears into the wooden box pot and somewhat forgot about it. When I take a leisurely walk through my backyard, I stop to take a look and snap some iPhone photos.

Colocasia ‘Blue Hawaii’

This elephant’s ear is Colocasia esculenta ‘Blue Hawaii’ from the Royal Hawaiian (r) Series. And it is one of my favorites of the elephant ear world – although I have many.

A zone 9-11 plant, not hardy to our CT planting zones but easily overwintered, is from “John Cho and the University of Hawaii’s breeding program.”

‘Blue Hawaii’ is named as such probably for the obvious reason that its veins on the leaves look purple-blue, and it is striking, to say the least.

I just love it. The two photos above of it were taken mid-autumn. Before or right after frost, I lift the tubers from the soil to store them for the winter because they are not hardy to our planting areas, but easily regrown in early spring inside the home and then transitioned to the outdoors when the summer temperatures are warm enough (same timing as tomato plants).

As you may know, I offer a demo day to show how I store plants such as these every Autumn. This year I’ve added a new date to provide a demonstration a bit earlier because people want to repeat the process at their own home, so this will give them time before frost arrives.

There will be three sessions on Sept 27, 2017 (early session), Sept 30th (early session), and again on October 14th, which is near when we will probably have our first fall frost.

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In front of the enclosed portion of the now-empty coop, well empty of chickens but filled with supplies and remnant smells of chicken poop, is a lovely Hellebore perennial.

I can’t recall which ‘cultivar’ this one is named from, but it is growing so well in this spot – which makes me especially happy – because I ordered a tray of these one year per a client’s request but never heard back from them when the plants came in.

No matter, I ended up selling them at a market and had one left over for here.

Hellebore

Hellebores are plants which I consider excellent performers in the foliage category for gardens, container gardens and patio pots.

They are reliable, long-lasting, have beautiful semi-evergreen beautiful coarse, solid, almost rubbery like foliage – the leaves are tough and thick – and deer won’t eat them.

In containers, they make long-lasting fillers and of course, they bloom, but the blooms on most species nod-down. When taking photos of the blooms, I need two hands so I can turn the flowers to face up to show their beauty. They are stunning – almost rose like.

Hellebores (Helleborus), a.k.a. Lenten Rose, are easy to grow in my opinion. I’ve started to slowly collect them over the years. They like part sun to part shade, full shade, and tucked in the right corner in sun with good part shade part of the day, they do fine as well. I have them in moist areas in deep shade, and areas with part sun – they seem versatile to me.

These plants have a certain elegance to them. I recommend them for use in both container gardens and gardens of the ground.

Oh, and by the way, they bloom very early in the season, sometimes even when there is still a bit of left over snow on the ground. There’s nothing like seeing a bloom in February or April when our plant world slowly awakens from a winter’s slumber.

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Quiet opposite of the Hellebore’s blooming time is the bloom time of Anemone (windflower), shown above, which blooms late in the season, not early.

Anemone ‘Margarete’

Anemones were in a big pot in my backyard which housed a big red banana plant (Ensete) and some other fillers. I had to wait a long time for the anemones to bloom because this cultivar blooms in September, but it was worth the wait.

This type of plant is what I refer to as a “welcoming” plant in your container gardens. It is the one people will be drawn to for its beauty and feeling of remembrance from when they used or are using the same plant in their gardens. Or maybe it will be a memory of their Grandmother growing them, but I feel they are welcoming and charming.

This one is a Japanese anemone, called Anemone x hybrida ‘Margarete’. Like the hellebore, it is deer resistant. It likes full sun to part shade and is hardy to our CT planting zone. I am expecting them to return in the pot which is rather large and filled with quality soil, and right now, in winter, covered with a board and tarps to protect it.

I selected this one for my container garden workshops because of the color and doubled petals. Oh, and the stems on this one grow very tall – up to 30″ – which made it a perfect candidate next to my big banana plant. If it were a short one, it wouldn’t have amounted to much in regards to structure and scale in the pot with the other companions.

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The last two photos in this Friday’s series of 2016 photos are not from near the chicken coop but by my house.

On the north-west corner, one photo of my red banana plant (2nd photo), that did pretty darn well. This photo was taken at the end of the season. It will be my next monster plant – year two on returning it from its winter sleep this year, or year three. I’m starting to loose track!

The other photo is of an urn I keep on my front steps year-round. Urns are great for that. They may be used all season and kept outdoors because they won’t crack and are tough.

Starting in spring with spring candidates in the urns, and even in winter with greenery for the holidays. I am happy I picked up these two urns a few years ago – each has a drain hole too which is required for plants to do well in container gardens.

Begonia ‘Lady Francis’ and Ruellia

I was super-duper impressed with this Begonia ‘Lady Francis’ in the urn last year. I selected three types of begonias for last year’s container gardening workshops – and boy, I’m glad I picked this one, and the others as well (‘Gryphon’ and ‘Dragon Wing Pink’).

But ‘Lady Francis’ had something other than the typical beautiful (and welcoming) flowers all season long, typical on begonias – it has darker foliage.

Treated as an annual in our CT planting zones, this plant is a hybrid with bronze-dark mahogany leaves and lots of double, pink flowers – but the foliage was full and lush all season long, which impressed me. And it was easy to grow.

From a container gardening perspective, it is a beautiful filler.

Begonias really rock it in container gardens.

This urn is at the front of my house which gets mostly shade and stays cooler, but it did fine. I would roll the urns a bit to the edge of the steps to make sure it received some sunlight when, in late afternoons on the north side of my house, the sunlight hits that spot.

As I mentioned, the foliage is a bonus on this plant because it adds a dark tone to combinations in pots – something very useful when designing your combinations.

I want to mention also, the filler tucked in the corner was a different one which I really liked last year. Called Ruellia (false or wild petunia). It is not hardy, but easily over-wintered, so it may be regrown the following year.

Ruellia or false petunia has leaves that are blade like and produces trumpet-shaped soft purple flowers – at least this variety does. It can take full sun or part shade to shade. This one is compact so it stayed low and tucked in the corner. The flowers bloomed in late spring and mid-summer. I feel it did better than a typical petunia, it lasted a long time and the flowers looked great.

Well, that’s it for this Friday. I have a busy day ahead, and busy weekend.

Have fun during the Super Bowl too if that is your thing!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

For information on the fall demo and our upcoming workshops, please visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com.

Upcoming Activity:

Feb 8, 2017 – Wednesday – Down to Earth Garden Club Presentation
“Six Design Tips for Container Gardens”

Feb 11, 2017 – Saturday – Floral Arranging Workshop
Broad Brook, CT by Cathy T and JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design

Mar 18 and 22 – Sat, Wed – Botanical Living Wall Art Workshops
New this year! by Cathy T of Container Crazy CT

Stay tuned for more.

Thank you – Cathy T.

Always a Good Time at the Market

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Every time I speak at a farmers’ market, I have a great time interacting with the market goer’s either before or after my talk.

There is a positive vibe at markets – and I believe everyone attending is happy to be there.

Same goes for the vendors selling items and for me!

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After setting up my demonstration table and being interviewed by the Hartford Courant (which was a surprise for me), we visited some of the vendors to shop a bit.

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My niece, who often helps me at my talks and workshops, was drawn to the “Clear Mountain Alpacas” booth by the Garrow Family. They run a small family farm in Somers, CT and have beautiful hand-made products.

Later, after my demo, Steve, my husband, bought a pair of really nice long warm socks from them for himself, along with a nice pair of gloves for my niece. She was smiling!

We also stopped by Marie’s “Toes to Nose Soaps” booth and picked up lip balm in various scents from watermelon to chocolate mint. She was offering a buy two get one free on the lip balms – and her soaps are wonderful too.

My niece scored that day, but she deserved it after helping me with the rather large audience at my demonstration about growing your own immature greens, via an easy method in 5-7 days, which turned out to be a popular topic with the market goer’s.

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Before I was about to start my demo, I did a quick Facebook live video to show what else was being offered by the many vendors and show the crowd. It was a busy day – nice in winter to be surround by local offerings. We were lucky to not have bad weather.

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Starter Kits were available for sale after my demonstration so that interested attendees could get growing the minute they got home.

Starter Kit Orders

If were unable to attend on Saturday – just reach out by calling or texting 860-977-9473 or emailing containercathy@gmail.com if you are interested in a kit.

Special Note to Kit People: If you bought a kit on Saturday, I forgot to mention the compost already has the seaweed component in it. If you ended up getting a bottle of your own, it is fine if you added it in – won’t hurt it.

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Requesting the Demonstration

Additionally, if you have a venue where you would like to have me present this demo, please don’t hesitate to ask. One of the reasons I enjoy showing how to do this process is because it may be done year-round. It is a 365 day thing – you can do this any time, winter, spring, summer and fall. And it is easy – and fun. Not to mention extremely healthy; there are many benefits to eating these types of greens – and they sure beat potato chips as a snack.

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Plus you don’t need mason jars with my method of growing immature greens.

Here’s a sample I brought along of radish immature greens above, which happen to be one of my favorite to eat due to a subtle spicy kick – but there are so many to try. The list is endless. As I mentioned on Saturday – I started growing micro-greens because I enjoy the taste and because it is the perfect easy in-door gardening technique.

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Gift Cards Reminder

Gift cards to my upcoming workshops are available – great for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, or any special occasion. You may determine the dollar amount you wish to apply to the Gift Card for use at workshops. Please inquire if interested. More information is available on WorkshopsCT.com. We have many new topics this year.

Thank you Shout Out

Lastly, I want to say thank you again to the Ellington Market Master, Dianne, for inviting me to speak. Familiar faces I hadn’t seen in a while were there – along with many new faces and my regular attendees. It goes by very quickly but it is always a good time at the market.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
Owner of “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs” and “Container Crazy CT”

A blog about container gardening, plants, and combining nature with art.

Upcoming:

Feb 8th – Down to Earth Garden Club, S. Windsor
Six Design Tips for Container Gardens

Feb 11th – Flower Arranging Workshop, Broad Brook
Guest Speakers: JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design

Mar 14th – Cherry Brook Garden Club, Canton
The Five Must Do’s for Container Gardens

Mar 11thBook Club Bookstore and More, Broad Brook
Six Design Tips for Container Gardens

Mar 18thBotanical Living Wall Art Workshop, Broad Brook
by Container Crazy CT