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

Leave a comment

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.

Grand Opening Celebration Copywrite CCC_0001

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)

Grand Opening Celebration Copywrite CCC_0003

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.)

*****

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

Grand Opening Celebration Copywrite CCC_0002

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

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Terrarium Time!

Leave a comment

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.

Terrarium Plants Copywrite CCC_0005

Terrarium Plants Copywrite CCC_0004

Terrarium Plants Copywrite CCC_0003

Terrarium Plants Copywrite CCC_0002

Terrarium Plants Copywrite CCC_0001

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

Terrariums_0005

“Combining Nature with Art”

 

First Kokedama Workshop, and The Next

1 Comment

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.

Kokedama Mar 22

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.

Koke Copywrite CCC_0001

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.

Koke Copywrite CCC_0002

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.

Koke Copywrite CCC_0003

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.

Koke Copywrite CCC_0004

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

Kokedama Ball Copywrite CCC_0001

 

 

Peanuts, Seeds, and Cuttings

Leave a comment

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.

img_2158

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.

img_2221

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

img_2222

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.

img_2225

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.

img_2224

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.

img_2227

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.

img_2383

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.

img_2382

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.

img_2381

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

calendar-by-month-of-ccc-workshps

List of Workshops Coming Up – Be Sure to Register Early

Planning for the Unexpected

6 Comments

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.

img_5364

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.

hp-5-wrkshop

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

2 Comments

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…

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0007

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.

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0006

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.

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0008

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.

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0005photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0004

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.

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0002

photo-wk-copywrite-ccc_0003

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

3 Comments

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!

micros-copywrite-ccc_0001

micros-copywrite-ccc_0004

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0007

micros-copywrite-ccc_0008

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0009

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0003

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0006

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0005

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.

micros-copywrite-ccc_0002

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

 

 

Photos, Photos, Photos!

Leave a comment

I do not know how professional photographers manage all the photo organization required for their work. It must take weeks!

Due to an issue with my iPhone recently, where photos were not downloading or deleting appropriately, I was scrolling through thousands of my photos the past couple days.

The good news is I think I fixed the download issue, but the process made me reminisce about the past year as I looked through batches of photos from 2016.

I thought it would be kind of neat to share a few at a time, indicating what was going on here.

I’m not going to change the order – so, here we go.

Batch #1 – Five Photos from 2016

gen-photos-2016-copywrite-ccc_0001

Oh yah – This is a beautiful mum, don’t you think?

Mums will return in pots – sometimes – after being stored in an unheated garage for the winter. I’ve had success with doing so – and basically, I cut off most of the top, roll it into the garage with my hand-truck in late fall, and give it moisture if it needs it. Most of the time, the moisture is in the pot when I roll it into the garage in late fall because the pot is so large and wet from rainfall. But I will check it and if looking bone dry, put snow on the top, if there’s snow!

gen-photos-2016-copywrite-ccc_0003

I took this shot too. Notice my red banana plant (Ensete) in the background on the right. As you can see, it is looking a little tattered as we approached the fall’s frost. But before this, this red banana plant was very happy in this spot which is the north-west corner of our house.

In the mornings, it is shaded, but as the day progresses, it gets sun but not extremely hot sun, and later in the day, as the evening approaches, it gets shade again.

Also in the background is a pot which has rhubarb (Victoria) and an elephant ear plant (Colocasia ‘Black Magic’). The elephant ear plant was really extravagant looking with bold, rich black leaves. But the rhubarb was “done” for the season. Before this stage, the leaves of the rhubarb were large and a great contrast to the dark elephant ears plant. I liked how the rhubarb’s leaves were ruffled too. It added a nice texture. Plus, these will overwinter pretty nicely in the big pots when the pots are moved into a protected location, like my garage or shed for the winter.

gen-photos-2016-copywrite-ccc_0002

During these photos, it was fall clean-up time. This shows 3 long window boxes which have oregano (left and right) and thyme in the middle. They were moved to my low-temperature greenhouse and are still doing quite well in the middle of winter.

Oregano is an excellent container garden plant because it stays contained, whereas in the garden, it is a spreader. It serves well as a spiller and filler in larger pots with mixed plants. I used it a great deal this past year for dishes during the summer. I loved it with feta cheese in particular when I would toss a salad or pasta dish. Add some tomatoes – and you are ready to eat!

gen-photos-2016-copywrite-ccc_0004

I grew up on a property which runs along the Scantic River and my husband and I go there for walks sometimes.

The river was very low in this shot. When I stand at this particular curve in the bend of the river, memories from my childhood fill my mind – every time.

We swam here sometimes and I fished at this spot with my younger brother, Jimmy.

He taught me how to catch night crawlers the evening before fishing day. We walked the yard with flashlights – usually after rainfall because they come to the surface.

Those are good memories. Today, I don’t care for putting a live worms on fishing hooks, especially night crawlers – but back then, it was no problem.

gen-photos-2016-copywrite-ccc_0005

Know what this is? A Catalpa tree. Native to our area.

We had a huge one in our backyard – it is still there actually. They can be messy because of their extremely long seed pods which fall to the ground, and require clean-up before mowing the lawn, which my father did every time.

This one is at that spot by the river. The sky was a beautiful clear blue that when I looked up at the tree, I quickly snapped a photo.

During my studies at UCONN, we were required to propagate a tree or shrub, or grow them from seed. I asked my professor if I could grow the Catalpa tree because my parents’ landscape had them and I grew up with those trees.

He responded that it is basically a weed, but yes, I could grow them.

I collected the long seed pods, and had many baby Catalpa trees in no time after laying the seeds on a bed of peat. They germinated easily and quickly.

Ironically, when I did some landscape designs years later, one client really wanted these because they are native. Things change. Natives are not considered weeds.

Actually, I think what my professor was implying at the time was that it is not the type of plant he wanted me to grow because he was teaching nursery production of marketable landscape type trees, but when he understood I had a fond memory of them, he agreed to it. Plant people – no matter how smart or experienced – have that “thing” about understanding the passion for nature and plants.

As a last thought on that professor – he came to me when I got my first job at a nursery to do a design for his wife. I remember feeling surprised and of course, intimidated cause he was a tree master.

I think it came down to he just wanted someone to help his wife.

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

A better pic

Leave a comment

cathy-t-collage-pic

There. That’s Better.

Better than the last post – which was just words saying we are posting formatting changes to this blog.

I started goofing around on this blog with different colors – and one thing led to another, removal of some menu items – Well, now I have some fixing to do. But, I have to table that for later because there are too many balls in the air at the moment.

The center photo above is of me from a few years back at the Maine Botanical Gardens sitting on a bench in front of their beautiful Delphiniums. The photos around that shot are of various container gardens from past to present. I love the colors and the memories.

Upcoming:

January 28th – Ellington Farmers Market
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Demonstration of growing micro-mini-cuties healthy and tasty greens. This is your chance for a FREE demo. Starter Kits will be available for purchase.

February 8th – Down to Earth Garden Club
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
I will be speaking on the “6 Design Tips” for Container Gardens. This is a follow-on of last February’s presentation at this club; Part II to a series. Held in a library.

February 11th – Flower Arranging Workshop
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
JEM’s is returning again as Guests Artist to teach this workshop. We have 9 attendees registered and plenty of room for more. Registrations are encouraged by Jan 28th to pre-plan. Theme is Pinks and Whites.

March 11th – BOOK CLUB Bookstore and More
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Free presentation on the “6 Design Tips” for Container Gardening.

March 14th – Cherry Brook Garden Club
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Presention on my famous “5 Must Do’s for Growth Success” with Container Gardens.

March 18th – Botanical Wall Art
New Workshop to be Announced – Stay Tuned to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

March 25th – Boston Flower Show
I’m going! Are you? Steve and I enjoy going together and mixing it up with show time, eating time, and relaxing with nice glass of wine. We stay overnight – it is fun and I bring inspiration to share with everyone upon my return.

We may be lining up a soap making workshop soon – I will be letting you know.

And I promise to post more on plants – it is time – a review of plants from last year will be underway.

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

“A blog about Plants, Container Gardening, and More!”

 

 

 

Succulents are Tough, but Not Indestructible

Leave a comment

It is amazing how popular succulents are today – and I’ve written about “how to care for them” in prior posts on this blog – but because many were purchased at my Pop-Up events this holiday season as gifts, and provided in my container gardening and succulent topped pumpkin workshops of 2016 – it seems a good time to provide reminders on how to care for succulents.

shop-small_0059

First and foremost – Succulents are tough, but not indestructible!

How tough?

Well, you can glue gun them to projects – and they “may” shoot out roots a few weeks or months later – still surviving! Wow! Amazing. But this is not too surprising if you know how they are propagated, which I show in my workshops to attendees. After all, we cut many plants at the base and allow them to heal over before planting them up – but let’s get back to “how tough…”

wreaths-by-cathy-testa-of-container-crazy-ct_0011

So tough that using a bit of glue to attach them to projects will not kill them – isn’t that crazy? – and this is why we are seeing them upon pumpkins in the fall, as corsages for weddings, and on many artsy projects. The uses are endless today.

succulent-pumpkins_0025

Initially, I thought this gluing technique was pure “plant abuse” but after testing it out – and witnessing the roots coming out of the succulents on my prototype succulent topped pumpkins from the fall – which, to this day are still doing well since October, I learned to accept these little toughies really rock it on crafty projects. They seem to have transitioned to not only being a living art but non-living art which has grown to be accepted and adored. And it feels a bit of going to the dark side as a plant enthusiast, because in general, I don’t like plants which are over-decorated (e.g., paint on plants or sprayed weird unnatural colors), but in this case, it works and since the plants don’t die – well, its okay.

shop-small_0026

Succulents are also tough enough to handle low temperatures and not die – thus, you may put them in a room as low as 50-55 degrees F and they will make it, maybe even 45 in winter (for some but not all). They typically go into a semi-dormant state in the winter months and just sit there and rest. They may not look “as plump” but when temps warm up and you begin a regular watering routine in the spring and early summer, they will plump back up usually.

wreaths-by-cathy-testa-of-container-crazy-ct_0013

Additionally, they almost can take freezing – just kidding, BUT I decided to attach succulents to my custom fresh wreaths this year- and well, if hung on a door where it gets cold but sunny and are protected by a glass door – they fared just fine.  I even put succulents as ornaments in my Christmas tree (shown above). It is so pretty. The colors of succulents from cool blues to red-tinged edges are a nice compliment to our holiday colors of greens, golds, silvers and flashy sparkling reds.

shop-small-day_0008

As far as freezing – Nope, they will die if exposed to freezing temperatures – but you know what I think it kind of interesting? If they freeze, they still look good. Most plants look like total mush when they freeze.

I ended up putting a wreath on a sled for decor that had a few succulents on them. After a cold day when it snowed, they froze solid – but they didn’t even “look dead.” I had to touch them to see if they were mushy but they were frozen solid and kept in their original form. When using succulents purely as a decorate element, this is a plus. Think of it this way if you are not convinced, how often have you ate an expensive dessert only to see if disappear before your very eyes? Most plant lovers will absolutely refuse to let a plant die – but isn’t that better to have used it as decor, enjoyed it for weeks, rather than throwing it in the trash because it was unloved, un-purchased, and unused?

During the summer, another incredible aspect of succulents is they make the perfect vacation plant because they can go a very long time without watering due to their ability to store water in their leaves, stems and roots. You won’t come back to a dead plant – and you will feel relieved that you didn’t waste your money on a plant. “Look Mom, I didn’t kill my plant!”

With all of this said – succulents are not indestructible.

If you decide to store a hypertufa pot filled with the more hardy types of succulents over the winter in your unheated garage, cold basement or very cold room in your home, they still require some light and monitoring.

Basically, what I do is just give them a bit of moisture in the soil occasionally (like every 5 weeks or so). This way the soil isn’t completely bone dry throughout the ENTIRE winter. It is perfectly okay to let the soil dry almost completely “BETWEEN” waterings, and keep the watering to a minimum (I tell newbies – once a month in winter, on the soil, not on the foliage, meaning direct the water carefully, and let it drain.)

If your succulent is totally thin and papery after a few weeks or months, it may have parted and passed. This is usually when the soil is so dry for such a long time, the poor little baby gave up. Avoid the “crinkly” situation if possible. Avoid poor soil and total neglect if you wish to have it return to its beautiful state when the season warms up again in the spring and fall.

containercrazyct-creations_0003

If you have a decorative pot, like the ones I sold this year as grab n go gifts or hostess gifts, remove the inserted pot which has drain holes, add the water to the soil, and let the water drip out from the drain holes a bit, then put it back into the decorative pot.

Giving these babies out as gifts definitely puts smiles on the recipients faces, believe me. It felt like the feeling I got when I used to give out fresh eggs to friends, the same reaction – pure happiness. I guess because succulents are just so darn cute, adorable, collectible, and usable in many ways. And they aren’t easy to kill, unless you freeze them.

Another aspect which makes succulents and cacti tough – is they do not require lots of fertilizer. They only need small doses from time to time – which I show attendees what I use and how in my container gardening workshops. They seem to be the type which thrive when neglected. After all, their origins are the deserts and hot arid places – they built up tolerance over the years of dealing with drought, wind, and dryness.

ContainerCrazyCT Creations_0005.jpg

How to Pot them Up

Most succulents will go a very long time in their original home, but if and when you do pot it up, the most important thing to remember is very well-draining soilless media with perlite for excellent drainage. Also, I also recommend pots with drainage holes.

shop-small_0109

The plants typically have a shallow root system. Long and wide pots work well, but they may go in tall pots too if that is the look you are going for. After you pot them up, water them in so the soil is moist. They must get acclimated to their new home – especially important in the growing seasons to move them into a moist environment initially. And remember, many have spines (well, at least for cacti like Agave). They are tricky to re-pot when large, and require special tools and handling. But for the tiny small sweet ones, they are easy to handle and re-pot.

And, as noted above, the thing that kills succulents the fastest is over watering. You want the soil to dry out between waterings. Allow the excess water to drain from the pot. Avoid water sitting on the foliage where it will create rot.

If attached to the top of pumpkins, you must moisten the moss every few weeks, and be careful not to damage the decor. If the pumpkin starts to decay, cut the top off and set the portion with the succulents into soil. The succulents will take root when they begin to extend their roots in search of a new home – in most cases! No guarantees here folks, as I said, they are tough but not indestructible.

Succulent Pumpkins_0015.jpg

Sun or shade

Believe it or not – some succulents (and cacti) prefer some part to full shade, but most in general are sun or bright light lovers. Read the label if your’s came with one and pick the best spot to suit its needs. There are literally thousands of varieties. In the winter months, a bright room works well. They are tough, and usually won’t die if the light is not super bright.

succulent-pumpkins_0027

Babies

Lastly, succulents are great baby-making machines. They produce offsets from the mother plant (little ones on the side) and it is so easy to remove them and re-pot or reuse on your decorative endeavors this way. Many succulents actively grown in the fall, so before winter hits – it may be a good time to collect those babies. By the way, if you see the Mother Plant shoot out a tall alien looking stem with a flower – you might be thinking, “Wow, it’s flowering” and then all of a sudden, the mother plant dies and shrivels up – and you think,”Oh My God. I killed it.” – Not! The mother plant dies after she produces a bloom, but the beauty is her little side shoot babies carry on the tradition of growing on the family. Just carefully remove the dead parts of the mamma plant and you are still in business.

Creations with Succulents

I’ve used succulents so many ways this year – some which I didn’t want to share online because they were so darn adorable – I preferred “revealing” them at the Holiday Pop Up Events held and plan to add them to the holiday workshops of next season in 2017, so that all my attendees will have fun creating with succulents too.

Well – its only 3 more days until Christmas, and I am still doing my last-minute holiday shopping. Got to run for now…

Cathy Testa
Owner of “Container Crazy CT” and “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs”
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com