Moving Container Plants In

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For those of you who (or is it whom?) may be new visitors to my blog site, I thought I’d let you know that my recent posts are related to storing, overwintering, and moving container gardens and patio potted plants at my home from the outdoors to the indoors in preparation for autumn and winter.

I live in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor in Connecticut (Zone 6a/b). We usually get a light frost in early October and most of my plants in pots are not winter hardy in this area. Therefore, they must be overwintered before frost in order to save them to reuse next season. I have been sharing my methods of keeping these non-hardy, tender plants alive for years inside the home or in a greenhouse.

From the web: Covering most of the state is Zone 6, split into colder 6a and warmer 6b with average temperature minimums from -10 to -5 degrees and -5 to 0 degrees, respectively. Connecticut’s new zone, 7b with temperature minimums between 0 and 5 degrees, runs along the shoreline from New Haven westward to the New York state line.

I’m starting a bit earlier to move my plants in than is required (we have not hit any frosts yet here, which would kill my tender plants) but because I want to get a head-start on my container work, I am moving in some plants now during the mid-month of September.

For many years, most of my container plants were moved into my home for the fall and winter seasons, yet, I don’t have a big house. Eventually, I built a greenhouse and I keep it at a low temp in the winters (around 50-55 degrees F), and only some plants are able to tolerate lower temperatures and survive. It is very expensive to heat a greenhouse, so my most treasured prized babies (or I should say mamma plants) get moved in there for the winter season.

This past weekend, I moved the following plants in:

Agave ‘Kissho Kan’

The story behind this mamma, of about 20-22″ in diameter, is I acquired a few trays of them to sell at an event, of which I was part of putting together with a group of other women with their own small businesses, many years ago. I ended up keeping one of the plants and have owned this “mamma” for about 8 years. I’ve lost count. I’ve collected off sets from it before, and I keep the biggest two in my greenhouse in the winters.

Agave in the bedroom

For years, I put this agave in my bedroom by the glass window slider, which is at the southeast end of the house. It gets some light during the day but not full sun all day. It did fine there every winter, but I had to be mindful of those sharp spines at the ends of the leaves when I walked by it in the middle of the night. My brain would know to not bump into it even when I was half asleep.

Agaves can take lower temps and they will do well in a cool or warm room, as long as they get sufficient light during the winter months. I do not let my agaves be subject to frost outdoors, as most are not frost tolerant. It would ruin the plant, in my opinion.

In the case of my bedroom location, where it was put during winters for many years, it got just enough light to hang in there. Most agaves are hardy in zones 9-11, and we are zone 6. I’ve yet to meet one that would survive our winters outdoors, but if I find it, I will let you know. I believe there are some more winter hardy types out there, but I haven’t found or experienced those yet.

Anyhow, after years of taking care of this particular agave plant inside during the winters, I was finally able to utilize my greenhouse instead.

Moved into the greenhouse

For the past 3 or so years, it has been moved to my low-temp greenhouse during the winters. There it will receive plenty of light (when the sun is shining in the winter months as sometimes days are cloudy) which is better for the plant (the more light the better) but it is cooler than it was in my bedroom, of course. I keep the greenhouse temp to about 50-55 degrees F. As noted above, they are able to tolerate low winter temps if kept in a sunny location.

This mamma plant gave me plenty of off-sets over the years which will pop up around the mother rosette over time. I have never had a bad pest on any of my agave plants, except last year, I found an ant trail going to the soil of this plant when it was in the greenhouse in early spring, so I re-potted it before moving it outdoors. I wasn’t happy about having to do that because it was fully rooted in a new pot already from the prior season. Here is my blog posts on the ant incident and how I re-potted it prior and took off many off-set plants:

https://containercrazyct.com/2020/04/08/ants-on-my-agave/

Yesterday, I used the hand-truck (a handy garden tool for container gardeners) to move it to my greenhouse. Actually, my husband helped me. I told him, “Be careful to not damage the spines,” as I walked beside him. He has probably heard me say that every time we have moved that plant! LOL. After 30 years of marriage (side bar: our wedding anniversary is tomorrow), he just doesn’t respond back. He knows how an*l I can be about my plants, but he seems to cherish them almost as much as I do too.

I hosed it all off with a harsh spray of water and looked it over and watched to see if any ants would come out of the bottom of the pot. No signs of that – so I let it sit outside for the evening and will move it in, maybe later today. It could stay outside all the way up to “before” frost but I’m moving it in early.

You may be thinking, oh she has a greenhouse, but remember, I was able to keep this plant inside for years during the winter months – just be sure you give it as much light as possible, and remember to reduce watering greatly.

I barely water this agave in the winter months. You should keep the soil in the pot very dry during the winter months. In fact, I probably give it about a coffee cup size of water maybe once or twice the whole entire winter, if that. And it does just fine. After all chances of frost in the spring time, back outside she goes. One day, I would love to see this agave flower, but that takes years before it occurs.

Ficus elastica (Rubber Tree)

The story behind these tall beauties shown below is I acquired a tray (sounds familiar?) of them when I was offering a container garden workshop focused on houseplants one season.

These rubber tree plants are hardy in zones 8/9-11 but in my zone, are not and must be overwintered indoors. If I had a huge house, I would put these in a nice spot by a window as a houseplant candidate, but there is no room for that in my home. They have grown rather tall.

This plant surprised me. First, if you put it into a bigger pot, it just gets bigger. They grew several feet each year. The one on the left is 5 ft tall from the soil line to the top of the plant and the one on the right is 4 feet tall. I need to learn how to propagate these. I know there is a method to do so via “air layering.” I will have to give this a try in the spring time.

This rubber tree plant has darker foliage, I believe it was called ‘Ruby’ for its cultivar name, but now I don’t remember, and I don’t feel like digging out my log book this morning, but will do so later for my readers. Running out of time is why, so free flow typing this morning!

The large oval deep burgundy leaves on it are just gorgeous and when it pushes out new growth, there is bright red tip from the tip of the stems, which is just lovely. I had no idea, to be honest, what a wonderful container plant these make in the summer time. They like part shade to part sun but I’ve seen them do well in full sun situations also.

Because the red pots would be top heavy with a tall plant like these, I did put a generous amount of gravel in the base. It has sufficient drain holes, but the gravel makes it a heavy pot to move, thus, my hubby helped me with the hand-truck again. I am getting to that age, I need that help! Thank you hubby!

Anyhow, it is just gorgeous. I hosed it all down with a very strong spray of water, and I inspected all the leaves, before moving these two pots in. I found a little round cluster of white tiny insect eggs on one leaf. I pulled that leaf off with a tug. (Note: Ficus trees release a white sap when you do this, pull a leaf off or nick the plant, so I just let it (the sap) run out and it is fine. It will make your hands sticky if you touch it and some people may be allergic to the white sap.)

Then, as a precaution, I decided to spray it with NEEM horticulture oil. Ficus trees can be prone to scale insects, so I thought, I will do this. The NEEM oil, by the way, makes the leaves all nice and shiny. I sprayed it till it runs off a bit and let it air dry before dragging these into the greenhouse. But as a whole, there were no signs of plant damage from insects or critters. The foliage on this plant is big and bold, and I love that, and now the plants are big and bold as well. I can only imagine what they will look like next season outdoors again.

Mangave

I was superbly thrilled when I spotted two Mangave plants at a nursery because I wanted a show-stopper plant for my client’s site. And this is a new hybrid on the scene. It was expensive, but I grabbed the only two available.

Unfortunately, one of them, after being planted at the client site was suffering. I remembered the soil in the nursery pot being extremely wet when I potted into their container gardens, and even smelled rot, and thought, the nursery was possibly over-watering them. However, I thought, well, it is hot and sunny here, it should be fine. Turned out it was not.

When the plant showed issues later, I pulled it out and found round types of worms in the soil. They were probably eating the roots. I took it back home and put it into my tender care area, and it took a long time, but I revived it. It actually got moved into different areas, as I tested out its responses to more sun, less sun, and of course it was re-potted into fresh soil.

This plant is very sensitive to breakage when moved. The tips break or snap very easily if bumped into, so it was tricky moving it but we did so. This plant is new to me, and it will be the first year I test it out in the greenhouse during the winter. It has a rubbery feel to its leaves. It is a cross between agave and Manfreda. The cool spotted patterns on the leaves are from the Manfreda side of the plant. It is interesting and a new find, so I’m liking the whole process of testing it out in containers and will see how it does this winter.

I will treat it in the same manner I treated my treasured mamma agave noted above, such as no watering in winter, etc. I have an article about the person who hybridized this new interesting plant, but I would have to dig that out to add more here, maybe later, as I know I can’t be blogging all morning. I have work to do today. Plus, my computer crashed on me while typing earlier, so now I’m even more far behind.

Carissa shrub

The story about this plant, which is also one I was unfamiliar with, is one I found while in Maine two seasons ago when helping my older sister move into her new home. She had work work to do during the day, so one day, I ventured off in search of nurseries in her area of Maine. I remember, I drove a lot. I found a cool nursery and saw this shrub. I thought it was so pretty so I grabbed one.

It has super deep shiny green foliage and it produces white starred flowers from time to time. It has had no problems in the same pot, and I move it into the greenhouse for the winter months before frost. The only little downside is during the winter, it will drop leaves and it makes a mess, but each spring, I put it out on the outdoor deck and it turns beautiful again, deepening in a rich green color. People will ask me what it is as they admire the beautiful green richness to it and plus it is not common in our area. It is not hardy in CT but it is a keeper.

I also inspected this plant before hosing it down with water to wash away any dust or whatever, I also sprayed it with NEEM horticulture oil as a precaution, and top dressed the soil in the pot with fresh potting mix. The roots are starting to come out of the drain holes so it is ready for re-potting which I will do at a some point. During the winters, I water it lightly from time to time, mostly because it has outgrown its pot and isn’t holding on to moisture well.

So far, I’ve been focused on moving in agaves, succulents, cacti, non-hardy shrubs, and I still have more to do, of course. My Canna Lily, Elephant Ears, Banana Plants, will not be worked on until probably later this month. They may stay outdoors here until frost or after getting hit by frost, if you are planning to store the tubers, bulbs, rhizomes, only (the underground bulb like structures). If you want to keep the whole plant in tact, they should be moved before they get hit by frost. Keep your eye on the temperatures.

As I look at my weather app, I see temps from 48 to 39 (Sunday), so we are still safe, but it is always a good practice to watch the weather people on tv on the news. They will give us a heads-up when the temps will drop lower.

I also will be showing how I move in my Mandevilla plants. I am reluctant to do them yet cause they are so full and lovely, filled with flowers right now, but I also have to budget my time and do it before it becomes a rush.

I hope this information is useful. If you have questions, please feel free to comment or email me. And I apologize of any typo’s or grammatical errors, but I have to go, I don’t have time to edit. Time to get back outside working on my plants and saving them as best as possible.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Owner of Container Crazy CT
Designer of Container Gardens
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
http://www.ContainerGardensCT.com
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com

I am not offering my workshops on Succulent Topped Pumpkins this year due to Covid, but I will have new succulent stock by end of September for Custom Orders and some succulents for sale. Stay Tuned! Thank you. Cathy T.

This is a tough one

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Time is moving so fast…

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Something surprising is happening – I’m receiving registrations for my annual December holiday workshop now – in the middle of August.

Last year, it was in October when registrations began, but August – wow – thank you.

I think it is a testament to the effort I put into all of my workshops to make them fun with quality materials. And because of your continued support and attendance, I am able to keep my workshops going and offering them as a great value.

What I mean is, I work hard to make all my workshops “quality” – from providing a warm atmosphere to offering quality materials. And when plants are involved, which in most cases they are, I make sure to offer healthy, thriving plants.

Since being at the bookstore in South Windsor with a temporary vendor/pop up plant shop this season, I’ve heard repeatedly from customers, “Your plants are gorgeous.”

Believe me – it hasn’t been easy, because after all the bookstore is not a nursery environment per se – but fortunately, the space there has beautiful bright in-direct light for my various houseplants showcased. The many plants and plant gifts available for purchase there are doing well – and they are available while supplies last so swing by soon if you can before summer is out.

Even my stag-horn ferns on wall boards continue to do well there. It is proof how well various houseplants will thrive with bright indirect light, and in some cases, fluorescent lighting. You don’t need a really full sun type of room to enjoy many houseplants. Many will do fine in home environments where some light is cast or there is ambient lighting.

I also maintain many types of plants in my private greenhouse from perennials, tropical, cacti, and succulents – where there is various sunlight situations, because some are put under shade cloth, while others are in full sun spots in the greenhouse – and I coddle my stock of plants for use at my workshops and for sale to anyone interested.

It takes me two hours every morning to water my outdoor container gardens and inspect my stock plants, making sure they are doing well, and give them plenty of coddling.

I tell myself every year, don’t put out so many containers at the house because I become a slave to them – but I truly can’t help myself. That is like trying to ask a fisherman not to buy another lure – or a shoe fanatic to not purchase a new fancy pair of shoes.

In addition, when I set up my workshops, where we combine nature with art – I do a lot of extras in advance so all is well-organized for my attendees, which I really don’t think others would take the time to do.

For example, for my terrariums workshops, I wash every bubble bowl by hand to make sure they are sparkling, and I package materials, rinse items, and again, make sure all the plants are doing well or get them fresh from growers for each session.

Sometimes, preparing for a single workshop takes a whole day of time. Truly. You may find this hard to believe, but it does. Of course, I want to make the whole package right for my attendees so all is well-organized. Is that going overboard? I don’t think so.

Again, it isn’t always easy – there are so many challenges, but I continue to be obsessed with my plants and workshops. I’m always taking pictures of my plants too – it is to the point, I could be classified as a plant paparazzi. Good thing plants are not shy. The photos are posted daily on my Instagram feed.

But I love it all – and I’m so happy my regulars and new attendees love it too. Thank you again for supporting my small business. I could not be doing any of this without my loyal fans and new plant friends.

As I mentioned in the title of this post today, time is moving so fast – it has been a fast and fun season and now fall is approaching already – summer is almost over, and I’m so excited to be offering more workshops this Sept, Oct, Nov and of course, DECEMBER.

In the meantime, maybe I can grab some beach time between my workshops before summer is gone.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
www.CONTAINERGARDENSCT.com
http://www.CONTAINERCRAZYCT.com

For my various locations and workshop venues, please visit the LOCATION tab on my workshops site. Thank you. Cathy T.

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Cathy T takes up-close photos of plants in her greenhouse. She is a Plant Paparazzi!

Photos, Photos, Photos!

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Caterpillar, Moths, Bugs and Bees

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Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

This week, I’ve been posting pictures of a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – well, not the moth itself yet, but its caterpillar stages before becoming a moth.

On Monday of this week, he moved to the base of a plant he’s been feasting on and began the process of making a silk cocoon. I’m glad I caught the very first stage of it – and was able to take pictures every couple of hours during the afternoon.

As noted in an earlier blog post, I spotted the caterpillar when I noticed something was eating the leaves of the plant (an elderberry in a starter pot). I am totally fascinated by this caterpillar’s coloring, horns, and well, as odd as this may sound, he kind of became my buddy. (See earlier posts of photos of him during his feasting stages.)

Every day, I’d go out to see if he was still clinging onto the stems of the elderberry, and see how much “damage” he did by feasting, and then voila – this week, I came out and he was starting his process of creating a silky cocoon (not sure if cocoon is the right term.)

I was surprised he squished himself in the base between stems/branches, and the plant label, which I never removed. The label makes a great supporting wall for him. I didn’t see him move at all when I would go out to take a look and photo.

In fact, every time I stepped out to take a photo before, he would stop moving usually and pull his head into his big body during his eating cycles in the mornings prior to the cocoon making.

Upon reading and looking it up, I discovered the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is “North America’s largest native moth” – and it is noted in references that “females can get a wingspan of six inches or more.” Cool. So it is a neat find and I’ve enjoy watching its progress.

As odd as this may sound, I have a memory from childhood of seeing a huge butterfly on a bush and running to get my parents to show them. Later in life, I thought, did I imagine this? – but I remember it being huge – similar to the photos of this moth. I will have to ask my parents if they remember this at all, or if I imagined it.

Anyhow, today, I think I’m going to prune the plant back and put a netting material over the top so nothing can get at it during the rest of the summer and into fall.

In the winter, I will either move the pot into my garage because it must experience the normal temps of winter, or put it under my steps in the front of the house.

I went to a website and asked about it – and they recommended these steps versus bringing it inside or putting it in a grow room which would be too warm.

From what I’ve learned, this moth, when it comes out – will only stick around for 2 weeks, and it is rare to actually spot the process of it coming out – but I do not want to totally disturb it and let nature take it’s course too. It is more important to me he makes it than to witness it changing into a huge, beautiful moth. Especially if it only lives for two weeks.

Ironically, earlier this season, I found black caterpillars feeding on a plant by the side of my house in a different area. I even posted a video of them and remember saying, I don’t know what they are, but I don’t like that they are eating my plant – Well, I suspect now they were the instar versions of this caterpillar because I’ve been looking at the pictures online of it’s growth process online.

Its cocoon basically got thicker and darker colored during the afternoon on Monday. By the next day, it was very dark brown where you can’t really see the caterpillar anymore inside because the layers are so thick from the silk.

He will change into a brown casing (chrysalis? I don’t know – I’m not a bug expert), eventually inside – similar to what is depicted in the Silence of The Lambs movie – like that. I am “not” gonna open it up though.

Here are some photos which I posted on my Instagram feed:

View this post on Instagram

#cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

A post shared by Cathy Testa (@containercrazyct) on

View this post on Instagram

#cocooning #cocoon #moth #cecropiamoth #caterpillar

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Beetle with Babies

I discovered another insect “thing” yesterday – I put out some glass jars on hanging hooks, and the rain filled one partially. There was a beetle floating around – deceased sadly (drowned), but I noticed little movements of its babies on its back. This stuff fascinates me – nature always has and always will, and I felt a little bad for the mommy – even for an insect I have these feelings at times. Not all the time though – not when they devour other plants I adore.

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She drowned. Her babies on her back moving. #bugs #beetle

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Bees on my Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia, commonly called summersweet, is a deciduous shrub which blooms this time of year, and has an intense fragrance. I have only one in my yard, but I look forward to seeing and smelling it every time it starts up its white flowers.

Yesterday, I walked up to it – and of course, iPhone in hand, and I saw a bee kind of sleeping on an upright panicle (flower heads). As I moved closer to take a shot, his little arm would jump up as if he was saying stop coming towards me – it was comical – like a reflex.

Eventually he got annoyed with me and flew away which I caught on a fast video taping and his one little arm was raised like he was saying goodbye as he took off. No Joke! LOL.

View this post on Instagram

#clethra #pollinatorsandflowers

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Because people are very interested in helping our bee pollinators – this is a good shrub to add to your landscape for late summer blooms to give the bees a boost – and they are certainly enjoying it right now.

September Workshop – Garden Art Creations

Also, we posted a photo of samples of the art pieces we will be making in our September 10th workshop called, “Garden Art Creations” – with wine bottles. Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie is our Special Guest Instructor. She developed three prototypes to show us what we are in for! I can’t wait.

WINE ART WORKSHOP TIMEFLIES_0001

Here are some details:

Location:

72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

Registration Fee:

$35 pp – Includes a pre-cut wine bottle per attendee, art pieces to embellish, instructions by our Guest Artist Speaker, wire, etc. You may bring additional art pieces to add and should bring your own wine corks. Bring own wire cutters if you have them.

Special Guest Speaker:

Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. Laura is a returning Guest Artist at our workshop. She taught a wind chime making class in 2015 and we are happy to have her return in 2016 for this workshop.

Date and Registration:

The date for this workshop has been scheduled for September 10th, 2016. Please refer to our www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site for more information, to register via Eventbrite on that site, or see our Facebook EVENT on Container Crazy CT facebook wall. Registration and pre-payment is required. Seats are limited – so please don’t wait if you would like to join us. It will be held rain or shine, and if a nice day, hopefully outdoors.

Enjoy your surroundings everyone – it is there for us to enjoy. Even without Pokemons (did I spell that right?).

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

Oh, and FYI, my “Ugly” tomatoes, or Costoluto Genovese, are getting bigger, can’t wait for them to ripen. They may be ugly ducklings but the flavor is suppose to be fantastic. The reason I selected them, along with Tomatoe ‘Juliet’, Tomatoe ‘Purple Bumblebee’, and Tomatoe ‘Sun Gold’ is because they are interesting – and, I like that kind of thing…

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Tomatoe Ugly #containergardening

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The Future is Fresh

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Hello Everyone,

When another website or blogger links my article to their’s, I receive a notification. This is how I discovered M&M Wintergreen’s post about 2016 Gardening Trends.

I’ve been wanting to write about garden trends because I share them every year at my garden presentations, but as I read M&M’s blog post – I thought they did an AMAZING job of capturing the essence of several trends. I particularly liked how they showed the way in which their company’s products support these popular trends in various ways.

Thus, I’m re-blogging their post (with their permission) to share with you.

Be sure to check out #9 – That’s where my blog article is linked.

I agree with everything they wrote and especially the “toilet brush” tree comment which made me laugh. Oh gosh, we don’t want trees made of toilet brushes! LOL.

Enjoy – Cathy Testa

P.S. Check out my new Blog Site specifically created for this year’s workshops, called www.WORKSHOPSCT.com, where, of course, my annual Holiday Kissing Ball Workshop with Greens is listed.

**********************************************************

Happy 2016 everyone! Now, I realize that it is almost March but it took me until now to stop writing “2015” every time I had to put a date on something! So technically, that must mean 2016 is still…

Source: The Future is Fresh

Making Your Own Evergreen Creations – This Saturday at the Mini Workshop!

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Just a quick heads-up – If you missed the big Holiday Evergreens Creations Workshop this past Saturday, there are other opportunities to make your own evergreen creation – via appointment this week or attend the Mini Workshop on Saturday, December 12th, 11 am.

(Note, the start time is 11 am but if you prefer earlier in the day, or later, just let me know – I realize everyone has super busy holiday schedules right now – we are flexible).

To attend Saturday’s class, email containercathy@gmail.com or call or text me at 860-977-9473. Payment in advance is not required – You may pay at the class, but a confirmed headcount is needed, so sign up by Thursday of this week if you wish to join the Mini Workshop on Saturday.

We have fresh beautiful greens to make a Kissing Ball, Candle Centerpiece, Wreath, or Candy Cane Wreath.

Here’s more details!

Open Studio Days – The week following the Big Class, if you prefer a one-on-one instruction by appointment, you may contact Cathy T to book a date and time – any time of day the week of Dec 7th, Monday through Dec 11, Friday.  This is convenient for those having time during the day or prefer to make an item after work or even before work.

Saturday’s Mini Workshop

Saturday, December 12th, 2015 – The Mini Workshop:  This session is perfect for anyone, nice for mothers and young daughters, or anyone that could not make the Big Class. It is quieter, no festivities other than making your beautiful evergreen holiday items with more one on one personal instruction directly since it is not a big crowd. You will learn the techniques and tricks to making gorgeous greenery arrangements and take home your holiday creation.

Cost: $37-$40 based on item you elect to make.
See the menu bar for descriptions.

Location: 72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

I hope to hear from you! Cathy Testa

860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Photos by Bonnie of the Home Place Blog. That’s her on the top left in pink! She is wonderful and shares posts about food, events, and fun happenings in Connecticut. Check out Bonnie’s award winning blog for more on her amazing topics about places to eat and enjoy in Connecticut.

Keeping Holiday Greens Fresh after Assembly

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Hello Everyone,

The temperatures are getting a little colder here in Connecticut and the misty rain is making things outdoors a bit damp, but it will not dampen my spirits – In fact, it will make them even brighter.

As my big Kissing Ball and Holiday Evergreen Creations class is approaching – in only 3 days – I welcome the colder temps and feeling of winter – It also helps me to maintain the goodness of my specially ordered mixed evergreens for this weekend’s class.

This year, we have lots of newbies in my workshop. Some of them seem a little nervous, saying or texting things like, “I’m not crafty” and “I want to sit in the front of the class,” but I believe they will surprise themselves.

All my attendees end up making something amazing and they impress me every year with their talents as they decorate the kissing balls and wreaths. I learn from them as well.

FM Kissing Ball Red Ribbon

Kissing Ball with Bow Created at ContainerCrazyCT Classes

But after the class, they may be wondering, how do I keep everything fresh?

For starters, the cold weather really helps – and it best for them to keep their newly made holiday arrangements with fresh evergreens outside.

The natural moisture from misty winter rains and upcoming snow falls outdoors keeps the greens just right. Colder is better to retain needles.

But, the type of evergreen also determines how it will fare in the weather after being cut and inserted into the mechanics.

For example, fir and balsam trees cuttings last very well for a long time. Their needle retention is pretty good – that is why people like them for Christmas trees.

Keep Your Holiday Creations Outdoors

It is also important or helpful, but not mandatory, to keep your wreath or kissing ball out of direct sunlight and wind. The wind may dry out the needles somewhat faster than if located in a protected place outdoors.

You may hang your kissing ball indoors – like from a ceiling fan or chandelier, however, it will dry out faster in a warm house. If you really want to do that for décor during your festivities later in the month, a good tip is to hang it outside the weeks or days before so it stays cold, and move it to your indoor location a couple days before your holiday event.

And be sure to keep any holiday arrangements with fresh greens away from hot rooms heated by wood stoves. That will surely dry them out.

I also recommend any candle centerpieces are kept in the coldest room possible before you display them at your holiday dinner table.

Kissing Ball on VDay

Fake Red Carnations on a Regular Sized Evergreen Kissing Ball

I find my kissing ball, hanging outside by my steps lasts all the way into February with no problems at all. I remember one year, it was hanging there on Valentine’s Day covered with snow and red fake carnations but it was soooo beautiful even then.

Pick Them Fresh

It also helps if the greens are purchased or picked fresh of course, which is one of my goals every year for this workshop. Timing is everything.

If you get greens from your yard, wait until you are ready to arrange them to cut them from your branches, or do it the evening before if possible, and take them when it is cold outside (not warm). Also, I recommend you cut them before any major wet type freeze falls on leave leaves or needles – so be sure to watch your weather forecasts.

Boxwood Plain

Regular Size Boxwood Kissing Ball – Color Lasts a Long Time!

Other types of evergreens which last and have a nice color in mixed arrangements are juniper, incense cedar, white pine, and as noted above, fir and balsam. The white pine may dry out a little quicker than the others, I have found but no worries, all will be fine.

Hemlock branches are very pretty and they tend to arch which I like in container gardens outdoors for holidays, but they will loose their needles a little faster than other types.

Yew, with its dark green needles, is a great candidate and lasts. For some reason, it is not as popular but I think it looks marvelous and adds a layer of texture in the arrangements.

One new item this year at my workshop, which will be a surprise to my attendees unless they are reading this blog post today, is berried Eucalyptus. This has a beautiful blue coloring and texture – and I’m excited to share it with everyone on Saturday.

Boxwood is another excellent, quality green in arrangements for the holidays. One big benefit is they have no sticky sap and they maintain their dark color even if they get a little dry over time. I absolutely love the classic look boxwood cuttings give to kissing balls and wreaths.

Boxwood along with Pine may be soaked in water prior to your day of arrangement – if needed to re-hydrate, but often it is not required.

Holly can be a little tougher to work with because those spines are SHARP. And holly may turn black if it gets wet and then freezes, but I don’t see this situation too often.

By the way, this year, we have variegated Holly – wait til you see it – oh, la, la, fa, and la-lah. Its gorgeous.

One year, perhaps next year, we will add magnolia leaves to the mix – they have shiny tops and brown undersides to their leaves, and it adds a really nice texture to holiday evergreen arrangements, especially on wreaths.

There are anti-desiccant type products you may spray on your greens to help retain moisture, but to be honest, I don’t bother with that – and everything has lasted well for the holidays.

Boxwood Bow III

Bow on top of a Kissing Ball

Last but not least, cutting the ends of your greens from fresh branches with “good sharp pruners” is important. It not only helps with the insertion into your kissing ball mechanics, but allows water uptake if you set your greens in a bucket of water the night before or if you are using hydrated floral foam.

Timing is Everything

Timing is probably the most important of all (along with cold temperatures).

Everything is timed in the background – lots of busy growers, distributors, and buyers do everything they can to time the harvesting of greens at the right time to shorten the length it sits out – and if too early, that’s not good – if too late, not good either. It has to be just right.

I do my best and feel like Mrs. Kissing Ball Clause as I prepare all for holiday workshops – I feel this magical spirit as I get everything ready – maybe that is what drives everyone in the business of selling Christmas trees, making wreaths to sell at stores, and arranging workshops. They end up working outdoors in the cold or rain but keep on. We are those elves doing whatever it takes to make all merry.

See you soon,

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

Container Crazy CT has Gift Cards Available – See the Menu Bar above – A Great Gift Redeemable Towards Future Workshops!

We have many exciting new workshops in 2016 – See “February’s Floral Design Class” with two experts in the horticulture business of floral design. See “April’s Art class”, and also May for the “Container Gardening workshops” – All hands-on and fun, educational, convenient. Classes fill up early too – so gift cards are perfect to give to someone who will enjoy this type of event at Container Crazy CT located in East Windsor/Broad Brook, Connecticut. And they may be used, of course, for next year’s holiday workshops. We hope to hear from you! Cathy Testa

A Walk in the Garden – A Blog to Follow

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John Viccellio from Stallings, North Carolina is the author of a blog titled, “A Walk in the Garden.” I never met John in person, but I’ve been enjoying his blog posts for quite some time.

He regularly posts photos of cut flowers collected from his gardens which are arranged in vases. Actually, I believe his wife is behind the vase selection and arrangements. He refers to her as his Arranger, and she does a wonderful job.

In addition to the various vase photos on his blog, John writes about plants growing in his North Carolina gardens. From time to time, I’ve admired the plants he is growing which I wish I could grow here in my Connecticut yard.

However, John’s planting zone is a tad bit warmer than mine. He is in a zone 7 area, and I reside in 6a. But not is all lost, as some of the plants he can grow easily in his area are candidates for container gardens or patio pots in mine if they are not winter hardy here.

Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree)

One day, I spotted a gorgeous photo of a chaste tree growing in John’s gardens via his blog posting. He had them ‘arranged’ in a vase and the soft blue to violet colors of this plant, along with its long narrow blue-green leaves situated like fingers from a central point, caught my attention and admiration. I don’t know why, but plant lovers just fall in love with certain plants, and this is one I’ve always liked.

I don’t see this plant (technically a deciduous shrub which can grow to the size of a small tree) offered for sale here in Connecticut often. They are hardy to planting zones 6 to 9 (or zones 5-9 depending on which plant reference you look up), so they are considered, what I call semi-hardy in our planting areas because they do not hold up well during harsh winters.

If the winter is not harsh, I guess your chances are better. Also, where they are planted matters in regards to the soil and exposure because they prefer full sun and well-drained soils. Bottom line is the plant will die back (dies to the ground) in severe winters. Its roots may survive to regrow the following season if all goes well.

Chaste Tree Cuttings by A Walk in the Garden blog

Chaste Tree Cuttings by A Walk in the Garden blog

The only other time I’ve seen a beautiful specimen of the chaste tree was when I toured a Connecticut garden via the Connecticut Horticultural Society’s programs. It was growing in Steve Silk’s amazing gardens amongst other trees and shrubs on his property in Farmington, Connecticut. Steve is a former newspaper photographer, travel writer and was managing editor at Fine Gardening magazine. He held the role of President for the society for several years.

Steve also has cool tropical plants in container gardens staged in various areas on his property, which is why I was happy to be seeing his gardens that day during the tour. But as I walked his yard, I remembered spotting the chaste tree and running my fingers along the plant’s foliage, again thinking how I wish I had one of these trees. I should have asked Steve how he managed to keep one growing in his garden due to it being a bit sensitive to our winter climate.

Of course, an alternative option, when desiring a specimen that is not totally cold hardy here is growing them for enjoyment in your container gardens during our summers and then overwintering them if possible in frost free places in the fall and winter. Many times semi-hardy plants will survive this way.

I can envision this chaste tree right now growing in a large container garden, and would pair it up with other plants showing off soft color tones, like pink, soft yellow, or other blue to violet flowering plants. If you browse John’s blog, A Walk in the Garden, you will see the other color of flowering plants he put near his chaste tree in his garden, some were hot pinks which worked well.

This deciduous shrub is a long summer bloomer, and as John noted on his blog post, it can be deadheaded for re-bloom later in the season, which he has done for twenty years on his plant. It was a grown from a second generation cutting from its parent at his Aunt Martha’s home in Chatham, VA.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (pink Muhly grass)

Then there was another day when John posted the pink Muhly grass photo from his gardens. Oh my God, I thought. I just LOVE that grass, and wish I had one here. The photo was especially beautiful because of how the sunlight captured the bright to soft pink colors of this fine textured ornamental grass in his garden, and I especially like how delicate this perennial ornamental grass looks and feels. Again, depending on which source you look up this grass, it is hardy to zone 6 or zone 5.

A Walk in the Garden muhly grass light

John noted that its a native, so his climate is ideal for its growth.”In October it was glorious,” he wrote, “…as the sun seemed to ignite its pink seed clusters.” I couldn’t agree more, it is electric – Just look at his photos!

Photo by John Viccellio

Photo by John Viccellio

Ah, I thought as I read his words and admired the photos he posted, I can imagine this vision on a fall day. Selecting a spot where the sun would hit it would be ideal in the landscape or garden, or again – in a container garden or patio pot. I can envision it in a cobalt blue pot, can’t you?

One day, on a day which some bloggers call, “Wordless Wednesday” – John posted two photos of his pink Muhly grass with no words or text because, it was “wordless” Wednesday, and it was enough to see just the photos, let me tell you – this grass is captivating.

A Walk in the Garden blog shares beautiful photos of the grass growing in their gardens.

A Walk in the Garden blog shares beautiful photos of the grass growing in their gardens.

John has been kind to follow my blog, and I follow his – but I really don’t remember who discovered whose blog first. So, recently I asked him to answer these following questions as a fellow follower – and wanted to share his blog site with my readers so they may enjoy his gardens too.

Why do you blog?

“I started the blog almost two years ago coincident with my self-publishing of my first (?) garden book (Guess What’s in My Garden!) in hopes that it would spur sales of the book. Over time, however, I began to respond to a number of garden memes out there (and photography), and that has been pretty much the direction I have been going. It is fun, and am getting to know folks all over the world. I have been thinking a lot about how I can get more info about the book into the posts and perhaps spur a few more sales. I have spoken at several garden clubs this past year, and that has gained me some blog followers and a few sales. I love the involvement I have now with fellow gardeners and fellow bloggers around the world.”

What attracted you to Container Crazy CT’s blog?

“I was attracted to your blog for several reasons. I realize you are using it as a vehicle to support your business, and I have enjoyed seeing your business related posts. It’s just a bit far for me to sign up for some of your workshops. I also have liked your hands on posts (e.g., pot arranging, etc.). Your warm personality shines through what you write and present…I can sense your smiling.”

What is your favorite plant or way of gardening?

“I have lots of favorite plants…particularly iris, peonies and azaleas…but my favorite way of gardening (because of our soil) is raised beds. I also very much enjoy creating things for the garden…stone walls, trellises and clematis poles that I have designed and constructed.”

Thank You for Your Service

And by the way, John Viccellio is a retired U.S. Navy Veteran – so, in addition to thanking him for his online contributions, gardening style, and demeanor expressed on his blog regularly, I’d like to pass on a sincere thank you to John for his service to our country in honor of Veteran’s Day which was two days ago on Wednesday.

Cathy Testa

www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

 

Getting Red, Orange, and Yellow in Your Fall Landscape

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The fall colors we have been experiencing as the trees’ leaves changed to red, orange, and yellow this year in Connecticut have been so spectacular, well – it is nearly impossible to put into words.

There have been moments when driving where you may have been blindsided by a turning in a curve when you see the beauty of it all. A street that is ordinary in your hometown has suddenly turned into a light show of vibrant eye candy, and you may have pulled over to take photos, but many times, those photos do not capture what you see through your eyes or through your polarized sunglasses against the clear blue skies and bright sun.

However, this month, a friend posted a photo which blew me away. Not only were the trees covered in the mixed colors of fall, but the ground was as well. Vibrant reds from low growing wild blueberry bushes provided an affect one doesn’t often see – unless you live in Maine, which is where my friend resides.

PJ Walter Photography

This friend, PJ Walter, is a person I met many years ago when my husband and I stayed at his inn which he co-owns with his partner, Frank. When we met PJ and Frank, the bond was instantaneous – Let’s just say, they are great people with a wonderful inn located in Rockland, Maine, called the LimeRock Inn. Check their place out – Steve and I highly recommend it for visits in that region, which we have done many times when attending the North Atlantic Blues Fest in summer.

During our first time staying at the LimeRock Inn, PJ did something special for us. He knew Steve and I were taking a sail boat ride in the afternoon, so he hiked out to one of his viewing spots and took a photo of us on the boat as it was sailing by. We didn’t know he was there, so when we arrived to our room that evening, the photo was already printed and matted for us sitting on our bedroom side table – what a surprise and gesture by PJ.

This is how we were introduced to PJ Walter Photography, and many of his works are hanging in the hallways of the LimeRock Inn for their guests to enjoy. PJ has the skill of capturing the magic of mid-coast Maine. He was posting photos this month of various Maine landscapes, and stating along the way how Maine’s fall colors were incredible and probably the best around New England.

One day, I responded by posting, “The colors are not too shabby in Connecticut either.”

But then on October 16th – PJ posted this brilliant photo below. It blew my mind.

It also blew the minds of many of his followers and friends. Comments were posted, such as:

“Looks like an impressionist painting.”

“BELISIMO!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“That hill is on fire, yo!”

“Interesting that the colors are in the ground cover as well as the trees.
Do you know what gives it the red color?”

PJ responded to the question by providing a link explaining why the ground color is painted in red (see Wild About Blueberries blog), and also gave a hint of the location, posting it as: Route 1 just north of Bucksport. 

His photo was shared over 55 times and a local television station in Maine shared it one evening. One may argue he should have kept it so well guarded to avoid a non-credit situation, but how can one not share such a beautiful sight? We are so glad he posted this photo and many others this season which has been particularly colorful from here to Maine. To see more of his professional photography – be sure to visit his website, PJ Walter Photography.

Low Growing Reds

As PJ pointed out to his fellow followers, the reds on the ground are wild low-growing blueberry bushes. Many people desire the red color in their fall landscape, and for years, the burning bush shrub (Euonymus alatus) was recommended for its bright scarlet color in autumn, but this plant is invasive. It spreads aggressively in the woodlands (where it stays green in coloring due to mostly shade situations) and overtakes areas, out competing local native plants. Blueberry bushes are the perfect alternative – giving your fruit in summer, and as you can see from PJ’s photo, the bonus of providing a powerhouse of red to scarlet coloring in the fall season, especially this year. While these shrubs are wild and low in Maine’s natural landscape – many blueberry shrubs can be purchased here in Connecticut which grow taller, from 3-6 feet. There are highbush, lowbush, and rabbiteye blueberries – and as long as you plant them in acidic soil they desire, blueberries are rewarding. Ask your local nurseries about them next time you visit to browse their offerings.

Taller Growing Reds

Another good option is planting a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) to get red color in your fall landscape. There are many varieties, heights, and styles to choose from, but what you may not notice is the red coloring of Japanese maple leaves intensify in the late fall, turning to a glowing red. Some cultivars you may be familiar with are the ‘Bloodgood’ maple which grows to about 15′ in 15 years, or ‘Crimson Queen’ with a more delicate, weeping form, and many more. Ask your local nursery staff to point them out to you next spring so you can capture some of that red in your landscape in time for next fall season. Japanese Maples like partial sun or filtered sun locations in moist, fertile, well-drained soil, and range in heights from six to twenty feet, so if you want a high level of red, plant one of these along with some blueberry bushes, and you are in business. And don’t forget, many smaller Japanese Maples are gorgeous in containers on your deck, they serve as elegant focal points, and may be protected in the winter months in garages to be returned outside the following season – something I did for several years with one of my smaller maples until I decided to plant it permanently in the landscape.

Another Red – Sourwood Trees

Another red tree, which I just have to mention because I find them beautiful, is the Sourwood tree (also called Sorrel Tree, Oxydendrum arboreum). It grows long drooping clusters of bell-shaped white tiny flowers in summer, which I think are splendid, and in the fall, the leaves turn a plum-red color. You can see the remnants of the white flowers against the red when you observe the tree up-close. It is a slow-growing tree, reaching about 20′ tall, requires a infertile soil, and likes full sun. I don’t see them often in landscapes, but when I do, and it is in the fall – the color is striking on the finely textured foliage. There is one located in Northampton, MA by a walkway which I took photos of this summer and Instagramed by Cathy T – I will track down those photos for you soon to post here later.

Oranges and Golds of the Sugar Maples

Sugar Maple spotted in Wethersfield, CT.

Sugar Maple spotted in Wethersfield, CT.

Fall Colors_0005

One afternoon while babysitting my niece, I drove past this maple on my sister’s street in Wethersfield, CT. My gosh, I had to walk to it to take photos. Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) make an impact when in full golden color – and this year in Connecticut, they have been breathtaking.

Close Up of Golden Leaves on a Maple Tree

Close Up of Golden Leaves on a Maple Tree

When my sister arrived home from work, I told her immediately, “I went down the street to take photos of that maple – its glowing.” She excitedly responded with, “I am so glad you said that; when driving down the hill, as the sun hits it – it is absolutely beautiful every year.” The tone in her response was as if she way saying, gosh, you noticed it too – that emotion you feel when you see a colorful autumn tree highlighted by the sun.

It is moments like that when you embrace fall. It helps to prepare for the oncoming winter by providing a sense of transition – and the Sugar Maple is one to have for oranges and golden yellows in your landscape. It prefers full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil and can grow up to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Although this one was located by a sidewalk, these trees do not like poor soil or road salt and do best away from those scenarios. They require a lot of space since they are big trees.

Ginkgo for Yellow

Another yellow to be had in the landscape is by way of the Ginkgo biloba (a deciduous conifer), which most people are familiar with due to its unique fan-shaped leaves and its medicinal benefits – however, did you know it turns a yellow color in the fall? Additionally, it is very tough, can take difficult locations, and the yellow leave color in the fall is lovely – until all the leaves drop which can happen quickly – as in one day when frost hits it – but it is worth it up til that point, plus you may choose to collect the fallen leaves for crafts. Ginkgo trees do not have serious pest issues. They tolerate road salt and drought, unlike the sugar maples. Oh, and if you go buy a Ginkgo at the nursery, remember to ask for only male trees (‘Shangri-La’ or ‘Autumn Gold’ are examples) because they do not produce fruit – the fruit on the female trees are stinky and people find the scent unbearable.

Pumpkins in Broad Brook, CT

Pumpkins in Broad Brook, CT

One afternoon, sitting inside by my kitchen slider, I was mesmerized by the colors of the trees in my own backyard – our carved pumpkins were a nice orange, and I thought, “Gosh, I wish I could capture those tree background colors in a photo.” This photo above was my ridiculous lame attempt with my iPhone. I guess the autumn colors will be sealed in our minds, or if we are lucky enough – captured by people, like PJ Walter, to be viewed forever. Here’s another one of his shots. Thank you PJ for the permission to post and show your photos.

Photo by PJ Walter Photography

Photo by PJ Walter Photography; FB Page in Mid-Coast Maine, 2015

Cathy Testa
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com