Looking Back on Holiday Creations

Leave a comment

My holiday creations and wreaths are usually featured on my other blog site, WorkshopsCT.com, but I got in the mood to review some past creations and thinking about what will be the new creations for this upcoming holiday season.

Last year was the year of the half-wine bottles as an adorable, easy-care, and fun holiday gift. I made these with soil, a beautiful succulent, and holiday bling. So fun. They sold quickly and I was happy to create them.

Silver pine cones with Mr. Santa in white was the theme which developed. I called them “Grab-N-Go!” gifts last season.

Then was the year where I became obsessed with the Rockefeller owl, the little owl discovered in the tree put up in Rockefeller center in NYC. I thought so much about that little adorable owl, and it just hit me to create these larger globes and bubble bowls with the owl as my inspiration.

I purchased an ornament and coffee cup from the organization who saved and rehabilitated the owl and it just was some kind of thing with me where I couldn’t stop thinking about how cute that owl was, and the fact, the owl survived stuck in that wrapped huge tree heading to the city for display!

I ended up making quite of few of these as people ordered them. Each little owl was wrapped in a very soft material I acquired to match the photos of the real owl. I put decor, mini succulents, and some evergreen tips in each. So fun to make. Loved this so much. And it was just one of those “organic” ideas that popped into my head.

Several years ago, I made one of those holiday themed mannequin skirts with fresh greens during the holidays. It was a test, and I cannot claim credit for this idea. I started seeing them on Instagram feeds, and after I finished making custom wreaths for orders, I decided to give this a try!

It was a little tricky to make. I used chicken wire underneath to work with and loved how it came out but I thought you sure would need a nice location to display it and keep it fresh, and how would one transport this? – it would have to be made on-site, and it was time consuming as well. I loved it though. I almost purchased a bunch of those mannequin clothing display stands from a warehouse once, but then I stopped myself, because I didn’t think I’d really get many orders for these. So this was just a first trial test.

These moss holiday balls with mini tapered candles were from last season. Aren’t they just adorable. Could you see them lined up on a table for a holiday fancy dinner? Little things like this make perfect hostess gifts too and are nice used in groupings with other decor you may have on hand.

I’ve made other glass hanging votives with matching mini baubles wreaths shown below. The creative juices will start to flow at times. This one was so cute because the mouse was so cute with his little red Santa hat. How could anyone resist him?!

I called this one the “Ho-Ho-Ho” globe – what really made it was the perfect bow on the bottom. And the ribbon on the top. A friend ordered a set of these for her best girlfriends – which I think is super sweet.

Every year, a spontaneous gift related idea for the holidays pops into my head – those are the best, the ones that just arrive in your mind for whatever reason. It could be a unique little animal I saw somewhere, or whatever. Those are the fun, spontaneous, unique ones for me to make. I don’t know yet what will spur a new idea for this Holiday but I am planning to go look at some inspirations. Maybe something new will come to me – we will see.

And of course, there are my custom made wreaths. I like to make them full and fluffy – that is just my style, with a nice mix of greens. I will be taking custom orders again this year which are picked up from my home base location.

My kissing balls take a really long time to make and use up a lot of greens, but I’m always happy with the result. They are rather large too. Here I am holding one up which is good arm exercise. My husband is always so helpful with taking my photos for me so I can show others what the kissing balls look like – this was one before being decorated.

Here’s an example of a rather large and full and fluffy wreath I made. I love the white snowy background.

And another, made for a customer, with a bow with cute red, white, and silver colors.

And here he is, my willing hubby, always helping me to take photos and sometimes to install the larger wreaths at sights.

And here is what I called, or should say my customer called, a Winter Wonderland! It was freezing out the day we put this all together but somehow my love of holiday greens kept me working away until my fingers needed thawing.

A few wreaths laid out on a table before installing them. I’m so lucky we built a larger garage when we built it many moons ago because it comes in handy for setting up and laying out all my materials while I work.

Well, today is a beautiful, sunny autumn day, but I started to think about the holidays ahead and that got me into these photos. I’m looking forward to a weekend of autumn right now however, and I’m sure you are too!

Cathy Testa
Container Gardener
Plant Gift Creator
Plant Enthusiast
860-977-9473
Located in Broad Brook, Connecticut
containercathy@gmail.com

Date of this Post: 10/28/2022

For more information on my custom work, please visit www.WorkshopsCT.com.

Thank you!

Making Succulent Pumpkins

5 Comments

I made my first two succulent pumpkin centerpieces for an order yesterday, and gosh, it was so much fun. I typically make these in my small hobby greenhouse and the “Zen” feeling in my greenhouse puts me into a total creative zone.

The leaves of the trees outside are starting to turn the color of yellow for autumn, and the wind was blowing around quite a bit. Every once in a while, I’d look outside from my work table in the center of the greenhouse to see if any bears would be there outdoors on the property – and nope! I have NEVER seen bears here in my yard, but there have been three sightings in my town last week of a momma bear with her two cubs. And it was nearby for one sighting so it makes me wonder, will they ever adventure here? I hope not!

Locally Grown by Nearby Farms

I picked up 9 pumpkin candidates from nearby farms in my town the day before. We had a drought year and I wondered how well the pumpkins would grow and this year they look great (last year we had too much rain). Number 9 was selected by a repeat customer right away along with a cheese pumpkin (not shown in this above photo) which I grew myself this year for the first time as a test (with the help of my cousin who grew veggies in her community garden plot in our town for the first time this year too!). She planted a couple of my pumpkin plants in her garden and I planted one pumpkin plant in a container here. I got about 7-8 pumpkins total for the smaller cheese pumpkins, but some had blemishes on the side but two were perfect – one has been used so far for a succulent pumpkin! Yes!

Succulent Pumpkin on a Cheese Pumpkin

And…here it is in the above photo. It is about 7-8″ diameter. I grew them from seed and kind of just experimented. I don’t plan to be a “big pumpkin grower” but it was fun to see how they would turn out. They arrived (were ready to pick) a little earlier than I would have liked so I will adjust my seed starting process for next year. But these pumpkins last a long time, can be stored and baked too. Anyhow, it was so very rewarding to make my fall themed arrangement on this pumpkin because it was home grown by me! The shape is perfect for the succulent pumpkin making process as well.

12″ pumpkin from a local farm

The other pumpkin I used yesterday was sourced from a local farm. I’m so fortunate to have local farms nearby! It is a blue-green color and very very heavy – you’d be surprised by the weight of some of these pumpkins. I carried it to the greenhouse and get into my “Zen” and create. Sometimes I listen to blues music and totally just zone out or sing along. I guess it is that space where some artists say they are at their best. To me, it is a pleasant time of creating and hopefully the end results reflects my Zen-mode. Also when in Zen, my tinnitus is not as noticeable which is another huge bonus cause I suffer from tinnitus.

Hobbit Jade

If you can believe it – the large pumpkin finished with 11-15 different plants of all sizes! It is quite the bargain when you consider the succulent plants may be transplanted later to keep going. So as a wonderful colorful living autumn centerpiece in your home, and then plants are maintained later. Anyhow, this customer wanted reds and orange themed décor. Oh and I forgot to mention, this year I also put a dwarf agave on each pumpkin which I think is pretty cool. The plant is rare and a nice find!

Ivory Whites, Beige

I really want to make a pumpkin with the color theme above for the décor embellishments. I like this neutral feel of the soft whites, cream whites, beige, brown, etc. Maybe I’ll make that one today. Even if not for a standing order, maybe as a gift, or maybe someone will purchase it after I make it – we will see!! It is a rainy day so it is perfect to be creating again, I hope.

Well, I better get to it – I have to pack my truck for a job tomorrow and then hopefully some time today make another Succulent Pumpkin. FYI, I’m located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT. Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great day. Feel free to contact me with any inquiries or questions.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT

Grab-n-Go Holiday Gifts

Leave a comment

Alas, we are two weeks till Christmas! I’ve been so happy to create for everyone and I can’t thank you enough for your small business support of my Cathy T Custom Work of my holiday kissing balls, wreaths, garlands, variety of holiday greens in boxes, swags, and holiday installations of planters and sites.

My hands have been a little sore and my back a little achy but I love what I do so much, I continue to move forward. Each detail is important to me and now, with the last two weeks of planning underway before Christmas Day, please keep me in mind if you are looking for any last minute Grab-n-Go Gifts. Some are made with plants and some without. I usually post as I create so you see how they are made and what is being made minute by minute.

Also, if you have any last minute greenery decorating needs, I have some beautiful cedar available in bunches while they last. Almost all my greens are used, which makes me happy! This means planning worked out and no-waste of the beautiful fresh greens! Limited supply on the greens now as of this writing (12/13/21). Thank you again for ordering from me this season. Now its Plant Gift time…

In regards to the Holiday Plant Gifts, please give me a day ahead to make it and then swing by to Grab-n-Go on your daily last minute shopping adventures. Just text me your questions or interests. 860-977-9473.

Details are also shown on http://www.WorkshopsCT.com. Some items available: Terrariums or Terrarium Kits (great gift idea!), Holiday Moss Trees with Succulents, Hanging Small Globes with Holiday Themes, and other perfect hostess holiday themed gifts. See my Facebook Pages or Instagram under Container Crazy CT for the latest daily holiday creations.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT
860-977-9473
Today’s Date: 12/13/21
See also www.ContainerGardensCT.com for Holiday Installs
See also www.WorkshopsCT.com for Custom Creations

2021-12-25T06:49:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Days Till Xmas

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Customer Comment:
Thank you again, it is just the perfect size and even more beautiful in person. I can really see your creative talent in your work. I especially like the two hanging zip ties added for height option. Also, the extra ornaments and matching ribbon. Nice little added details that you think of. It smells soooo good too! – Wreath Purchaser, L. Mickey, 2021

Champagne Colored Ornaments
Top Made to Match Homeowners Theme with Elves fun colors, and Bottom Wreath was Created to be Natural with Burlap Bow

Frost on Plants

Leave a comment

It finally arrived here in Connecticut. Frost on our plants. Last week, it dropped into the 28 degrees F range in the evenings of Friday and Saturday (Nov 5-6th weekend).

For months, I was putting away frost tender plants from my container gardens, because I wanted a head start and it takes a lot of time to dig up plants from pots to store underground portions (rhizomes, corms, bulbs) for frost tender plants, as well as move containers into my garage or basement for the winter months, or just doing cleaning of empty nursery pots for use next season.

The frost of fall appeared a bit later than last year in 2020 (it was on Halloween weekend in 2020), but this year, in 2021, it decided to arrive about a week later, and we could feel it. As I walked out of my house the other day to check my greenhouse to make sure the heat was working well, I saw frost on my truck.

Frost 2021 Nov 5-6 weekend

I carefully walked on the frost covered grass and carried my flashlight to point here and there, hoping I wouldn’t stumble upon any wild animals, on my way over and down to my greenhouse. It is kind of pretty to go out at an early hour, think it was like 5 am, and see all the glitter on the plants outside from the overnight frost. But it was very cold and I didn’t stay out there too long in my slippers and PJ’s with a very thick bathrobe!

Later, when the sun was finally up, I got a glimpse of a rose bush near my house and I thought, look how pretty that is with the glittering frost on the roses!

While it may look pretty on the outdoor plants, we definitely do not like seeing our tropical plant toppled from frost, which is why I did all my overwintering chores early. It seemed to take forever. My list pretty much consists of Canna Lily plants, elephant ears (Alocasia and Colocasia), red banana plant (Ensete), some Mandevillas, and of course, I move in all my succulent and cacti plants early as well.

This year, I made a note on my calendar to check my stored tubers, rhizomes, corms in about a month. I want to make sure there is no rotting or problems. Last year, I ran into that and I think it was due to not having some air holes in new plastic storage bins I used, so I drilled very small holes into the covers of my storage bins which are kept in my unheated basement, stacked up in a corner, where it stays cold but not below freezing during the winter months.

And as I noted above, I check my greenhouse in the early part of the winter heating phases to make sure all is going well, that the heat is on, and I will sometimes take the flashlight and look at the plants. Did you know, some critters (insects) come out at night. Not common in the winter months cause the greenhouse is kept at a low temp (around 50 degrees F), just warm enough to allow my low temp tolerant plants hang in through the winter months.

In the winter, I pray for sun during the day hours. Not only for myself but for my plants in the greenhouse, so they may stay toasty warm during the winter days (and not utilize any heat). The cost to heat it is getting a bit too much. But so does a good dinner out! LOL. Choices!

My greenhouse also doubles as a creative space for me to make items with plants for the decorating seasons, such as upcoming holidays. It can be cool in there in the midst of winter however, requiring me to wear a thick coat, etc, but on the days when the sun is in full force with no clouds, it is like a sauna at times and I try to capitalize on those days. It will warm up your bones in an instant. On sunny winter days, it feels like the tropics.

On rainy days, the greenhouse can bring me some relief too. I suffer from tinnitus and the rain pouring down hard on the roof top is the most soothing sound to me, as it drowns out the ear ringing. Also, distractions drown out the ringing, so when I am creating or working with plants in there, it also brings me relief because I am distracted and in the “zone.”

We just did the ol’ “fall back on the clocks,” and this is a time of year of transition. It will be darker out at dinner time and dark out when we get up. I will try to not let that bring me down. The thing that keeps me up is knowing the holidays will be near and that I will be making wreaths soon, right after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Wreath by Cathy T

While times are tough, there are shortages of supplies, and also many prices increases for us all around, I still will attempt to make the most beautiful wreaths possible. If you are looking for a hand-made wreath, kissing ball, or boxes of greens, look me up if you are near me. All is arranged as porch-pick up’s and are noted on my site called, www.WorkshopsCT.com.

Well, not much else to report today. I basically wanted to make sure I record the date of our fall frost, because it is important for next year to remember when it comes around. Each year is slightly different.

Enjoy today’s sunny weather!

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

Fall is Fantastic

2 Comments

We are having a wonderful spout of good weather in Connecticut this year, 2021, during our fall season. The temps have been just lovely, no more rain (like we had all summer practically), and minus the mosquitos here, the fall weather has been fantastic to continue my various plant projects.

I am still taking down some of my tropical plants at home to store and overwinter, while finishing up some container garden installations for the fall season for clients, and also making beautiful custom made succulent topped pumpkin centerpieces for my orders.

I thought I would show some photos of various projects I’ve been doing, jumping from one project to another this month of October 2021 in Connecticut.

Cathy T holding a banana leaf Oct 2021

Well, here I am, holding a very long banana leaf from my red banana plant (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelli’). It is not hardy to our zone (6b) so I take it down every fall. It has become a ritual. I never had any issues with storing it as described on this blog via other posts (search Overwintering or Ensete), but this past spring, when I took the “stump” out of the storage bin, it was a little more damp than usual. I figured it was due to no air holes in my bins, so I drilled some very small air holes in the bin covers for this season. Or maybe it was the “new peat” I bought that stayed too damp, I’m not sure, but I have done this process again! Cutting down each leaf, chopping off the top of the plant, then storing the base. (See more photos below). People liked this photo when I shared it because it really shows the size of the planter, the plant’s leaves. I’m 5’6″…so, you can see how long these leaves grew this season in 2021. You may notice the plant is in a big black pot, I usually plant it directly into the big cement planter, but got lazy this year, and it did just as fine, the roots went thru the drain holes into the big planter below. I also fill this planter with Castor Bean plants, other Alocasia and Colocasia plants, and other perennials, etc.

Callicarpa Beautyberry Shrub Oct 2021

This is not a tropical plant above, it is a deciduous shrub, called Callicarpa. Just look at the purple berries this year! The foliage is a lime green (normal color). But this year, the berries have been abundant and really a deep purple color. I wondered if our abundant rainfall contributed to the color being so intense this season? I planted 3 of these side by side by my deck at the ground level years ago and I remember taking a measuring tape out to ensure I was giving it the recommended distance for spacing. People notice this shrub right now – it is beautiful. It makes a nice shrub for massing together as the branches arch and fill the area. I had cut it back in early spring and it performed nicely. I’ve never seen birds eat the berries, even though some sources say they do. I’ve never tried to grow it from seed, perhaps I should try to do so. Mr. Micheal A. Dirr’s manual indicates the seeds require 90 days cold stratification.

Cathy T holding a large Succulent Topped Pumpkin 2021

Yup, that’s me – trying to hold onto this very heavy and large succulent topped pumpkin I made for an order. Isn’t it beautiful – and so are the plants behind me! I could barely hold the pumpkin long enough for my husband to take a photo.

Ensete stump
Ensete stump

Referring back to the top photo of me holding the red banana plant leaf, here is the stump I dug out after chopping off the top. I use a machete. This stump was left in my garage for about a week, mostly because I was busy doing other fall plant project, but also to allow it to dry out somewhat. It is still moist from the water held in it, so a good suggestion is to tip it upside down and let the water drain out of it after removal from the pot or ground. I did have to cut off more of the top to fit it inside my storage bin which is about 3 feet long. The cover barely shut – this stump is a doozie! (That is heavy and big).

Container Garden by Cathy T in the month of October at a client site

If there’s one thing I will tell the plant Gods when I visit them some day, is, “THANK YOU!!” for offering me the wonderful opportunity to plant on a high rise. This is an October photo of just one of the many container gardens I install at this client site, and it is full and lush. I love how the fuzzy big leaves of the Lamb’s Ears plant grew extremely well, no blemishes, and as perfect as ever. It is called Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears” and I guess you could say, I do have a fondness for big plants which make a big impact. It is a perennial plant for full sun (hardy to Zone 4). The silvery soft leaves are low maintenance and used as groundcovers, or in containers as I did here. I paired it with two flowering plants, one an annual and the other a tropical lover for hot sun. They looked just beautiful but it was time for the take down process this month. The nice thing about using perennials in containers is if you wish to move the pot (not doable in this case due to the location), you may do so to an unheated garage and there is a good chance the perennial will return the following spring. Or you may dig out the perennial from the container garden and plant it in the ground in the fall to continue your plant investment.

Mop Head Hydrangea Bloom at my House

I guess you could say, this month of October 2021 has been a very colorful one. This plant above usually hasn’t produced many blooms for me before, but this year, it took off. I had these big colorful blooms and I cut them from the plant just yesterday. I read you may spray the flower head with hairspray (aerosol hairspray) and set it in a cool dark room to dry. I am trying that out this season with these Hydrangea mop-head blooms in purple, blue, and rosy tones.

At a Client Site

A pumpkin centerpiece I created (referred to as a succulent topped pumpkin) is shown above at a lady’s home. I absolutely love how she decorates her table, putting the Family piece and candle holders with the mums all around. And a nice photo she took, which I decided to share here. Isn’t this another beautiful fall color photo? And yes, that is a real pumpkin, one of a nutty brown color. Sourcing my pumpkins was a little trickier this year. Many local farmers had issues growing them because of our summer abundant rainfall. Some fields were flooded and ruined some of the crop. I had to hunt and peck to find good ones for my succulent topped pumpkin creations this season.

More of my creations above. I love making these in October. I have made some Halloween themed too.

Me in-front of a Wall of Mandevilla

That is me again, here I am standing infront of a wall of Mandevilla plants I installed in the spring. By October, they were full and gorgeous all the way to the top of the 7 foot wall situated above planters. I have to say, I was distraught early this spring because right after I finished planting these, there was an extremely freak cold rain day where temps dropped so low and it poured, cold rain. I was so worried it would ruin my work at the client’s site, but the Mandevillas did well, and the rain all summer encouraged their growth. The foliage was shiny, perfect and lush. Each year is different, and I was so thankful these performed well. They have white trumpet shaped blooms that last all the way into the fall. These plants are vine-like growing easily up when trellised. They will keep on climbing, reaching for the skies, which they did here on this high-rise garden. I have planted the red, pink, white types. All add a tropical feel to any container gardens outdoors in summer.

Plant Gifts by Cathy T

Well, I guess that is it for now. I’ll finish off today’s blog post to remind everyone I offer custom plant gifts, especially popular in the autumn and at the holiday season. Look me up on Facebook or Instagram under Container Crazy CT. I do all in containers, planters, patio pots, dish gardens, etc. You name it. This month I’m offering adorable succulents, bagged up and ready for pick up. If interested, DM me on Facebook or text me!

Thank you and enjoy the rest of this week’s perfect and fantastic fall weather.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Zone 6b
Broad Brook, CT
cell: 860-977-9473
email: containercathy@gmail.com

Today’s weather: 72 degrees F day, Lows at 48 degrees F at night (still safe for tropicals outdoors, I suspect the frost will arrive later next week!)

Tomorrow – partly sunny and Saturday and Sunday look nice during day. 37 degrees predicted for Sunday night.

Back to work I go outside today. Trying to make the most of this perfect fall weather, did I mention, it is fantastic?!

Succulent Topped Pumpkin Time

Leave a comment

Autumn Time

Hop on over to my site, called www.WorkshopsCT.com to learn about my custom made succulent topped pumpkins. They make wonderful autumn centerpieces, and now that there is a bit of fall in the air, these are my next fun endeavor. I love making them for orders. They are wonderful displayed inside your home for the fall and Halloween season, and last for months!

Winterizing Time

I’m also still taking down my tropical plants, probably working on them this weekend during the nice pleasant sunny cool fall weather. We have not had our October frost here yet, so there is still time but alas, my work must continue or I will be backlogged with plants! I have some Brugmansias which are blooming beautifully right now with huge yellow trumpet shaped flowers which smell wonderful in the evenings, as well as my Canna Lily plants, and I still have many elephant ears plants (Alocasia and Colocasia) outside in my larger container gardens. All will be taken down, pulled out of the soil, cut back and stored via the parts under the soil (corms, tubers, rhizomes, etc.) for storage during our winter months. I will show more photos soon but just enter search terms in the search box on this blog to locate directions and information and feel free to ask questions. I also have already collected my seeds from various seed pods by this time and stored them in cool dry places for use next spring to regrow some of my favorites. Pods should not get soggy and wet and be collected before that phase, or they will mold or rot on the plants outdoors at this time of year. I also put away most of my agaves, mangaves (one is shooting a flower stalk – it is 4 feet tall right now! So exciting!) And put my succulents in the greenhouse along with some of my larger house plants. The greenhouse is not being heated of course yet, and the natural air goes thru daily along with an auto fan as the temp rises on sunny days. Anyhow, the fun and plant work continues.

Winter Time

Boy, times are tough for small businesses. Every time I turn around prices are going up. This impact us greatly and we just can not afford to be “low priced” on our unique creations and please bear in mind, plants are perishables similar to vegetables from the grocery stores. Of course, you may make plants last for years, if not centuries, with the appropriate care, so it is a wonderful investment to have the beauty and company of plants surrounding us, but all the delivery costs, shipment fees and delays, materials and you name it, it has raised prices on materials for our industry, from the plants to the decorations we use for them. So thank you for supporting my small business – especially those who repeatedly visit me.

It brings me much joy, honestly, especially in the winter months to continue my work and custom orders. I guess my point is – I’m still planning to make my custom made holiday items as well as my succulent pumpkin centerpieces, but prices have gone up for me as a very small business owner. Custom is not cookie cutter, so if you enjoy unique, handmade, well cared for plant creations – I’m your girl! And also, the weather factors, this year our areas got hit hard with rain and floods – this impacted the availability of pumpkins locally. But this will not stop me from creating because it is my passion. Passions can not be stopped! 🙂

Thank you for visiting.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT
Zone 6b
USA
Posted: 10/7/2021
Today’s weather: 54 degrees F, Foggy, H: 73, L:50
Weeknight temps for next week are in the mid 55’s range.
Friday and Sat – Party Sunny – yes! Glad we will have nice weekend weather.
Next week, looking good too in the mid-60’s to low 70’s, but maybe some rain showers

Here comes the snow

2 Comments

Our first big snow storm arrives tomorrow, well, technically tonight, so I guess that means we will be dealing with snowplowing our driveways, cleaning up our cars, shoveling, and wearing warmer winter clothes, but it also brings some nice things.

Nice? Yes, nice things.

Like how the snow covers up the ugliness of our brown landscapes of winter and how the snow decorates the outdoor holiday lights with snowy white accents, and even the after thing which happens the day after a snow storm, like how icicles will be dripping and glistening in the sun, or perhaps you will make a snowman or go snow-shoeing. There are some nice activities, that is, if you like snow.

However, preparing for the storm is usually some pre-work for all of us. For example, rushing off to the grocery store to get food so we can at least have some yummy meals while cooped up inside during the storm, or getting the snow plow prepared or scheduled, and moving any last minutes items from the outdoors to inside to protect from the storm, or covering up big planters in my yard I STILL haven’t gotten to. Geesh!

Cathy T’s Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Globes!

It also will give me the opportunity to continue creating with my fresh, wonderful, beautifully scented holiday greens! I am still creating small holiday planters and a few gift items, and if you are local, and have a last minute holiday gift needs, please look me up. All are custom made and arranged pick-up style. I also create various small hand-held gifts which are great quick pick-ups for gifts. All I need is one day’s notice to make it custom for you.

Planters with Mixed Greens and Decor by Cathy Testa

I will be home all day today (after grocery shopping in the morning) if you wish to pop by for any last minute gifts (all hand made by me and unique as featured in my posts, Instagram feed, and on my Container Crazy CT Facebook business page). My cell is 860-977-9473. Feel free to give me a quick text.

Holiday Globes by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT

I’m also marking this date, today, 12/16/2020, as the first big snow storm coming to town. Just think, only a couple days ago, we were outside without heavy winter coats or hats. Today my fingers will be freezing within minutes while I gather up supplies to make my next custom order. And I probably will have to be super cautious when walking across my large driveway to get things tomorrow. This Connecticut weather is crazy. But we will endure, like we always do.

I hope where you live, you are not dealing with this big snow storm, unless you enjoy some of those “nice” things noted above.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Small Business Owner
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook/East Windsor, Connecticut
860-977-9473 cell

Adorable Moss Ball with Hand Dipped Small Candle and Accents by Cathy T.

Pausing for Pumpkins

Leave a comment

In between designing these wonderful pumpkin creations, I’m trying to continue working on overwintering plants from my home container gardens as well as for clients.

We still have not hit our hard frost here in my area of CT, but it has been a busy fall season, and I guess you could say, “I’m pausing for pumpkins!”

Custom Orders for Succulent Topped Pumpkins

I have been making Succulent Topped Pumpkins for customer orders and it couldn’t be more fun! Now is the time to get one or make one yourself.

They are the perfect item to dress up your table (make it the centerpiece of an autumn inspired table scape at home) or give one as a hostess or teacher gift.

Large Pumpkin with Live Succulents and Decor

I arrange for “Zero-Contact” Porch Pick-ups of these from my Broad Brook, CT location or some deliveries are available based on your location.

They are created on any size pumpkin you desire, from a small (the size of a grapefruit) to, what I call, an XL! A pumpkin of larger proportions than well, let’s see, a basketball. Each pumpkin is unique and has a beautiful mix of live succulents with decor. You may request prices via text at 860-977-9473 or via email at containercathy@gmail.com.

But, please order soon, as supplies will eventually run out and so will the pumpkins. I source the real pumpkins by visiting local farmers here in my area. Now is the time to request your order.

And, these wonderful and pretty Succulent Topped Pumpkins are very low-maintenance and easy care. Complete care instructions are provided with each order so you know how to make them last well beyond the autumn season.

Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT. Holding a Large White.

No Holiday Workshops This Year

In addition to working on overwintering plants between pausing for pumpkins, I also made the big decision that I will not be holding my big Holiday workshop this year.

I can not thank everyone enough for being here every year for the past ten years on the special day of making wreaths and holiday kissing balls!

The memories will last forever and it will be missed, but due to COVID-19, this is the year I am retiring them. Yes, I used the word retire as I do not think I will hold them going forward.

Workshop Kits

However, as I retire my workshops, I am excited to be redesigning my services to offer WORKSHOP KITS.

If you wish to make an item at home, check out my WORKSHOPSCT.com site for the details which I’m announcing over the next few weeks.

Autumn Kits are currently available for the Succulent Pumpkins and holiday kits will be announced for the winter holiday season soon.

After all, if you have to stay safe at home, you might as well get into creating something wonderful with plants and decor for any season. Kits may be requested for groups as well. Get your friends together in small groups!

Steve and Cathy Testa from 2019 when we held our 10th annual Holiday Workshop!
Order a Kit for December to Make Your Own Wreath!

Custom Orders

And I will be taking custom orders for wreaths and kissing balls for December. More details will be posted on that, but for now, as noted, I am pausing for pumpkins!

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT


My Aqua Blue Planter

2 Comments

When I saw a planter box with a trellis advertised as homemade by a nearby carpenter, I ordered one up for delivery right away. The carpenter goes by the name of Harold’s Woodworking. They are on Facebook under that name and their logo is an owl. If you are local to my area (Broad Brook, CT) and decide to contact them, please tell them Cathy T sent ya’s. Ask for Jen. She was very helpful throughout the process of building it and delivering right to my driveway.

Because my husband said it is best to let pressure treated wood dry out before staining, I planted it first, and stained it later.

Staining it turned out to be tricky, of course, with plants in there, but I managed to get the job done by using light weight plastic over the plants while I stained. At times, I also used a large piece of poster board to protect plants. It was a messy job but I got it done!

Slide1

Here it is with the plants identified. And this photo was taken about 3 weeks ago so the Canna Lily plants (#1) are much taller at this time, and the moon flower vine (#8) is growing much more and clinging onto the trellis now.

Moon Flower (#8)

The moon flower is one I grew from seed. It will produce fragrant, huge white blooms. The flowers open from dusk to dawn in late summer to early fall. The vine can grow up to 8 to 12 feet tall. Planting it near my bedroom entrance door will give me a show later this season. By the way, moon flowers have hard coated seeds so you must soak or nick them with a nail file or other tool before sowing them. I direct sowed 3 seeds in this planter along the back wall. This plant also requires a long growing season so hopefully I did not sow them too late as I can’t wait to see blooms at the end of our summer season.

Slide2

Gomphrena pulchella (#5)

The #5 plant with round pom-pom like flowers is one I am very happy I picked up from a local nursery. It has very sturdy stems and stays upright. I have not seen any damage or flower drop from these. As noted, they do not require deadheading. I cut a few to put in a vase and they hold up very nicely in vases too. So far, I have only seen small white butterflies visiting these blooms as well as tiny flying insects visiting the blooms to get their nectar. It is giving it a wonderful display of color at just the right height.

Slide3

#6 Salvia ‘Rockin Fuchsia’

I purposely selected this annual because of their fluted flowers to attract hummingbirds and because of their purple color. They have not disappointed in either. The hummingbirds swing by to visit them from time to time and the plant is as sturdy as the other annual in the planter. It is hard to see them in the first photo, but they are tucked to the right and left of #5. I love how the dark purple flowers look with the lighter pink colors of the Gomphrena annual next to it.

Slide4

#3 Upright Jumbo Alocasia

I planted two of these on the left and right sides of the planter. Because this bulb was a bit smaller than my others, they are on the small side but I am sure by the end of summer, these will be dramatic. I’m in love with the upright type of elephant ears now. The foliage is almost rubbery and shiny. They just seem to stay beautiful all summer long. A new leaf pushes out every few weeks or so and it is like they are performing a dance for me to witness over time. They will be half the height of the Canna Lily plants in a few weeks and add a dramatic shape to the arrangement.

Slide5

Comanche Moon Art

The hanging art, referred to as Comanche Moon, by its creator was an item I purchased many years ago. I had it hanging in my greenhouse and now I realize I wasn’t capitalizing on it’s beauty in the greenhouse. The sun glimmers thru it at times on the lattice part of this planter, and it makes it glow. It is so pretty against the blue aqua color as well because of its orange colors. I selected orange because it reminded me of the mountains of Sedona, Arizona from when we visited there. The artist had many colors to choose from and it was a difficult choice at that time. His website is noted above in the photo. Upon contacting him recently, he said he no longer makes these but check out his other wonderful art pieces. Really stunning and of high quality.

Other Plants

And, I have Portulaca annual tucked in the far left and right corners in the front as well as some tiny petunias in the center. I wanted color and I achieved it! Because I’m a huge fan of foliage over flowers, I thought this year, you know, I really need some color in my containers. This prompted the whole scene of the aqua blue stain to the colorful purple, pinks, soft lavenders in this planter. And ironically, the ruby darker foliage color of the Canna Lily plants picks up the dark tones of the Comanche moon hanging art in the center.

Prior Planting Set-up

As far as the setup prior to planting, we put some blocks of wood below the planter so it would be elevated a bit to allow for drainage and air circulation below and to help protect the wood of our deck floor.

Additionally, I inserted two large fabric grow bags (40 gallon sizes) in the planter to serve as a liner and put foam below the grow bags. Quality potting mix and some compost was added along with slow release fertilizer.

The planter is on the east end of my deck so as the sun rises, it hits the Comanche Moon just right in the mornings. I can see the planter also from the far west end of my deck. I am enjoying is so much. It gave me the color I was looking for.

I will post more photos later in the season to show the progress of the plants. At least that is my game plan.

Have a great day,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
“I plant all in patio pots, container gardens, and planters of all sizes!”

Other websites:

http://www.WORKSHOPCT.com
http://www.ContainerGardensCT. com

 

 

This is a tough one

2 Comments

This is a tough one.

It is the perfect time to start working on your gardens while you are sheltering at home, but should you go to your local garden center or supply store during this COVID-19 pandemic?

I saw a Facebook post the other day of a person upset someone was going to the store to get mulch. They shouted out on their post about how this is not the time to go to the store, risking contact with others, for mulch.

I thought, I see their point.

But darn it, it IS the time to be outside, to do something meditative, and get fresh air safely at home in your own yard with no one but you and the birds.

Covid Times C Testa Copywrite_0006

Bird Houses are Garden Art too

People are stuck at home, and I am absolutely sure, people who love plants and gardening want to work on what they may while they have the spare time right now.

Conundrum

We have a conundrum on our hands here. Is it okay to go to the garden center or a supply store for plants or gardening items?

I am not going to answer that question.

I suppose if you are doing your six foot distancing, they have curb side pick-up for individual needed items, and you are not touching bags of soil – maybe.

But, I don’t know.

Covid Times C Testa Copywrite_0003

Hopefully you have some soil on hand!

It kind of sucks for a gardener to not to take advantage of this free time.

After all, as noted above, gardening is very meditative and relaxes the mind. Something we all need right now.

And it is actually a good time to do some clean-up work outdoors in early spring, especially on sunny days.

Gardening and being outside may also help the kids at home now with breaks from at-home schooling.

Covid Times C Testa Copywrite_0001

Micro-greens on a window sill

Things you could do possibly, if you don’t have the need for actual items like mulch or plants, are:

Prune your shrubs – those which should be done in early spring before new growth starts.

Remove dead leaves from your landscape or garden beds you didn’t get to in the fall.

Clean your patio pots and containers with water and bleach per the appropriate mixing directions.

Sow your seeds indoors. If no seedling trays on hand, use alternatives – egg cartons, yogurt cups, or toilet paper rolls. (If you don’t have seedling mix, that is a dilemma however.)

Sharpen your garden tools, clean up your garden shelves, and take inventory of your gardening items on hand and make a list of what is missing so when it is safe to go out, you will be ready.

Covid Times C Testa Copywrite_0002

Clean Your Tools

Plan out a new garden bed you’ve always dreamed of.

Watch the patterns of sun and shade in your yard for a day – see where sun lovers are best suited and look for good places for shade plants, etc.

Dust off and read some of those garden books you have but never had the time to fully read before. You need to clean anyhow.

Get your garden decor items out of storage and place them in your favorite spots.

Grow some micro-greens inside the home (did you go to my sessions on those a couple seasons ago?)

Watch some garden related video’s for inspiration. (I have some on seed sowing on my sites right now). Visit my Container Crazy CT page on Facebook if interested.

Gather some stalks of spring flowering shrubs to force into bloom inside the home (e.g., forsythia).

Order some new container gardens and patio pots online. They may arrive a little later than normal but heck, they may be right on time for May plantings.

Get your tubers and bulbs out of winter storage. Pot them up early to get them started inside the home.

Covid Times C Testa Copywrite_0004

Stalk of a Red Banana Plant starting to push out growth

Clean your hummingbird feeders and hang them up – empty, if need be. But they will be ready for when the hummingbirds are and you are ready to make your own sugar water.

Get your patio furniture set up. Okay, maybe risking a last season weird snow fall or spring frost incident, but it will melt fast.

Put your big pots out and dream of planting them. I am! Envision the future.

Collect your tomato cages, trellises, and bamboo poles. Put them where you will be using them when the garden green light is set to go.

Put out your peony hoops around the peony plants starting to pop up now from the ground.

Build a scarecrow with your kids to put in the garden with materials you have on hand. You’ve been cleaning your closets out anyhow, right?

Have your kids search for a hollow log in your landscape if you are near woods to create a planter of sorts. It doesn’t have to be live plants – add some dirt and make twig people. Or find some ferns in the wild to plant in the stump.

Paint some rocks. Another great kid activity. They could pick specific locations in your yard to put them out or place them in gardens. Make them herb markers. Don’t have paint, maybe use nail polish?

Enforcing policies if you have to go:

If we get creative, we can avoid the visits to supply stores or open garden centers, but if we truly do need supplies, then at a minimum, store owners need to enforce policies (see the article below).

And please people, don’t rush to judgement.

Some people may need a propane refill or pet food – which are also at some garden like stores.

Article stated above:

An article by AgCenter Research Extension Teacher outlines some tips in an article titled, “Public Health Emergency Response for Retail Store Managers.”

https://www.lsuagcenter.com/profiles/aiverson/articles/page1584563222650

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

P.S. If you are local to me and need seed packets, I still have some in stock for tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, some flowers, herbs, etc for sale. I could mail them to you. The details are on WORKSHOPSCT.com. I will have seedlings for sale in mid-May too.