My Mikado

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Sharing some progress of my tomato plants as of June 30, 2020.

This heirloom is one of my favorite tomato plants due to the large fruit size it produces and also the fruits’ wonderful flavor. They make the perfect slicers for sandwiches or when stacked with fresh mozzarella and basil.

This Mikado is located by my garage which faces east. It gets sun up until when the sun passes over the garage, then it is shaded by the garage itself. While it is best to give tomato plants as much sun as possible, all is going well so far for this particular location. They are producing fruit now.

Some good things about growing tomato plants in pots by my garage is for one, the pesky wild animals are leaving them alone. I am not sure if it is because the garage outdoor lights are above each tomato plant and the lights may signal to them that people may be near. Or maybe the cars do.

Animals have been an issue on my home property. Raccoons, or maybe it is a skunk, are digging into the soil of some of my other planters, but so far, they have not touched the tomato plants along the front of the garage. Thankful for that – hope I don’t jink myself!

I recently put pea gravel in some of the other “visited” pots which seems to help. I read that skunks will stick their nose into soil to smell for bugs, so maybe the gravel stops that from happening. Other things I have tried are hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper sprinkled on the tops of the soil in the planters and pots. They seem to visit the same pots every evening. I even moved one huge pot because they were destroying my tropical plants. I wondered if they thought my canna lily plants are corn, because raccoons like to mess with corn plants apparently.

But back to the Mikado. It is growing very well with no insect issues, and around this time of year, I check it every time I water the plant, which is daily. As I water the soil (not the foliage!), I look around to see if there are any insects or damage to leaves, etc.

I think these plants along my garage will grow slower than those on my deck which are in full sun. I plan to share photos of all my tomato plants as they progress with fruit and I just can’t wait to taste the flavor when the first one is fully ripened on this Mikado.

Some people will ask me what I feed my plants when they see the large sizes of my plants in pots. Honestly, I have fed them a water soluble tomato fertilizer only once or twice so far. That is it. I do not have some secret magic fertilizer as some have accused me of, which I think is funny. Like they think I am not being totally honest, LOL!

If you water correctly, use quality potting mix from the start, and some compost, include some slow release fertilizer upon planting, a fertilizer feed “every 7-14 days” is not absolutely necessary in my book. I feel if the plant has plenty of flowers, is looking healthy, and strong, I don’t “over” fertilize. I also like to use big pots for stronger and larger root systems.

I plan to share photos of all my tomato plants going forward. Hope your’s are doing well also! Especially for those who have purchased seed packets or plants from me earlier this season.

Stay Safe,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
“I grow everything in pots, planters, containers!”
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Time for Updates

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On this muggy and cloudy day, I briefly visited this site, my blog, and I realize I am overdue at making many updates. I need to revamp this site, and as my work schedule calms down, I will do so for you.

COVID-19 has disrupted many of our worlds. The timing and planning especially – who can plan with all these uncertainties, right? I had purchased a “calendar book” this past winter due to expecting a very busy season of offering container garden installs and my plant related workshops, but guess what?! That calendar book became useless – everything I had targeted week by week had suddenly changed, but many of what changed ended up being for the better for the gardening world.

I was extremely busy for months as people stayed at home and wanted to enhance their outdoor spaces, create their own C-19 Victory gardens, plant their herb kitchen gardens, and spruce up all at home with living beautiful plants. I am glad I was able to assist so many homeowners with their plant endeavors this season.

However, I realize so much has changed and I need to update this blog site very soon. I also need to update my photos. I have so many to share for inspiration and ideas in the container gardening world.

For one big change, no workshops are being offered by me at least up to the winter season. It remains to be seen if we will experience a 2nd wave of COVID-19 before I decide if any holiday workshops will take place. At this time, I do not plan to offer any fall workshops. So sorry, but please stay tuned or follow this blog for regular updates.

I promise to update you on all. In the meantime, please visit my Instagram feed under Container Crazy CT to see my daily plant related photos.

For my regular customers, please stay tuned to my updates and video on plant care. This week has been a hot one and it looks like it will remain hot for the rest of this week. Be sure to water your tomato plants deeply and regularly. And look out for the insects and plant related diseases which sometimes surface during this muggy, no air movement weather today.

Thank you for visiting.

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

How to Water Succulents in Pots with No Drain Holes

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My number 1 rule has always been to make sure your patio pots and container gardens for plants have sufficient drainage. There is no doubt plants perform much, much better when they have sufficient drainage holes in the base of their pots. Oxygen is necessary for plant roots to develop and perform better, and without drain holes, they lack it.

But, what about all those good and unique pot finds with no drain holes which you want to plant your succulents in? Vintage tea cups or a cool rock? Or when you are growing plants in hanging glass globes or in glass terrarium bowls? How do you deal with the fact these types of pots have no drain holes. If you cannot drill them, which is tricky with glass in particular, then the answer is to water very carefully.

Because succulents are able to withstand periods of drought, many people use them in pots without drain holes, but they do need watering at some point. In fact, succulents tend to like a good drenching, and then you should allow the soil in the pot to completely dry before you water again. The key is watering carefully when you have no drain holes.

Here is a list of tips I created to help you do this correctly, and again, carefully.

Tip No. 1 – Use Sphagnum Moss

Add some moss in glass hanging votives or glass globes over the soil mix. Fibered sphagnum moss absorbs up to twenty times its weight in water. The moisture will distribute naturally throughout the moss reaching the plants’ roots. The moss will dry over the course of the next few days on its own. By the way, sphagnum moss is not peat moss. And, Spanish moss is also different. Spanish moss is more for decorative uses and will remain soggy longer than sphagnum moss. I prefer the sphagnum moss because it dries between the moisture routines allowing the aeration also needed for the succulents delicate roots.

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Tip No. 2 – Tip the pot

After putting water in the soil mix (or moss), tip the pot to drain out any excess water, especially if you over did it. It may be okay to let the water sit there for a bit to be soaked up awhile, maybe an hour or so, but then be sure to drain out any excess water from the globe, pot, or whatever has no drain hole.

Tip No. 3 – Unplug the weep hole

Some pots, such as this hanging basket, has a reservoir area in the base. If the pot got overfilled with rain water during a heavy rain fall, pull the plug out, and allow the accumulated water to drain completely out. After, let the soil dry out and then re-insert the plug.

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Tip No. 4 – Add horticulture charcoal

Charcoal is very useful in terrarium glass bowls in particular. It improves drainage and absorbs harmful impurities. Add a thin layer in the foundation of the bowl along with soil and gravel in the base. It may be used in pots without drain holes too if desired. It will help the soil environment. Just be sure to follow the guidelines on the bag for the amount to use, and wear gloves since it is a messy dusty like component which will blacken your hands. Layer it appropriately as well for terrariums.

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Tip No. 5  – Less is more

Do not over water especially if your pot is in a dimly lit room inside your home or in the shade outdoors. This is a formula for inviting fungus gnats. The moisture will not dry out as quickly in shady spots, and thus, it invites critters. Critters like moisture. Be aware less is more in these situations, but again, your succulents shouldn’t be in non-lit areas in the first place. Most succulents prefer sun. If possible, if the soil is too wet from this situation, put it outdoors on nice days to give it natural air. Just be sure it is warm enough outside and not in too much sun IF the plants have been inside all winter. Select a partial sunny place and bring it back in later before evening.

Tip No. 6 – Use a porous pot

Terra-cotta and non-glazed clay pots allow air movement through the pot itself, so using a clay pots helps the non-drain holes situation versus using a glazed ceramic pot for example. Also, fabric or fiber pots with the natural ability to allow moisture to seep thru the pot base, are helpful to use. Such as coco fiber liners used in hanging baskets.

Tip No. 7 – Add perlite

Your potting mix may already have perlite, but adding more to the soil mix for pots with no drain holes will enhance the air spaces in the soil. Horticulture perlite is expanded volcanic glass. It increases aeration and drainage which will help the roots develop. This tip is good for plants which enjoy lots of drainage, such as succulents. Perlite is available by the bag in garden type stores.

Tip No. 8 – Create a drainage layer

Add gravel, stone chips, sterilized sea shells, or river pea gravel to the base of the pot before adding the soil and or moss. This is only recommended for pots without drain holes. Otherwise, if the pot does have drain holes, it can be counterproductive, creating blockage to drain holes or moving up the soil moisture above the gravel line. More on that in another blog post. It is a bit of a thing to explain to folks, which I have in my workshops on container gardening in the past.

Tip No. 9 – Allow drying time

Most plant roots need a balance of moisture and air. Be sure to allow your soil to dry between watering, especially important when you have no drain holes and are using succulent plants. Succulent plants should not be sitting in soggy soils for prolonged periods of time. And if the weather is right, put your container outdoors for some fresh air to give some air to the soil or moss, just be careful to not put it in harsh sun right away if they’ve been indoors all winter. And do not put out non-hardy soft succulents outdoors if it is still cold out – usually the right time to transition them outdoors is around Memorial Day, but if there is a suddenly warm day and sunshine, it doesn’t hurt to put them out for a few hours if the soil is really too wet.

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Tip No. 10 – Direct the water

Direct the water carefully to the soil mix (not to the top of the plants). Do not mist succulents. Point the tip of your watering-can spout to the soil, moss, or around the plant. I’ve been using a hair style water bottle lately for succulents in tight pots. The bottle is squeezable and squirts out a stream of water perfectly from a very narrow tip. If your succulents are a hardy type, and outdoors, it is okay if they get wet especially in the sun, but for soft non-hardy succulents, it is best to avoid getting the foliage wet. Also, bear in mind, newly planted succulents may have not expanded their fine roots into the soil much so the amount of water may depend on if you just planted a plug or baby succ, versus one that may be fuller and more mature.

Potting Mix

And finally, I think this goes without saying, use a quality potting mix or container mix for your plants in the pots. No native soil, no dirt please. In a future blog post, I will talk about my favorite potting mixes and how to find them. I have my favorite brands, and I actually listened to a webinar yesterday on new wood substrate type components for peat-based potting mixes. Again, more on that later. There is always more to learn.

Thank you for visiting.

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

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Why Succulents in Hanging Baskets?

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Succulents continue to be wildly popular with plant enthusiasts and collectors. If you don’t have lots of room on your patio, a hanging basket filled with various succulent plants is a way to capitalize on your space. Succulents don’t require frequent soakings and may stay dry for weeks, making them very low maintenance plants, which is perfect in summer, when we are busy or going on vacation. Many people are surprised to learn that most succulents do produce flowers, at least once during the growing season. Hummingbirds love the flowers on the long arching stalks of Echeverias for example, just one of the many type of succulents out there to enjoy. It is a thrill to witness a hummingbird visit the delicate urn shaped blooms. In summary, succulents have lots to offer and are very long lasting plants, which means you may enjoy them outdoors in the warm season on your patio in a hanging basket, and then later, move them indoors for the winter season to enjoy on your windowsill or any indoor room with decent sunlight.

The Soil Mix

Succulents require good soil drainage to perform their best, and hanging baskets with coco-fiber or sphagnum moss liners are perfect to provide that drainage. The water will seep thru the natural liners and allow the soil to dry between watering or after a strong rainfall. And, as long as you plant them in a gritty potting mix, which is best for succulents, the plants will thrive. Gritty soil refers to adding more components to make the potting mix sufficiently porous (i.e., providing air space) with materials such as white horticulture perlite, which is added to improve drainage and aeration.

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Fresh Mix is Best

The garden industry provides many perfect potting soil or container soil mixes by the bag to use to plant your succulents in containers, hanging baskets, and patio pots. Potting mixes or container mixes are suitable, and cacti mixes or mixes specific for succulents, are even better. The key aspect to keep in mind when selecting your potting media is to purchase it fresh from a reliable source. Never ever use dirt (native soil) from the ground for your succulents in hanging baskets. Dirt is far too compact and will not provide the appropriate air spaces in the soil for the plants’ delicate fine roots, and it may harbor diseases, plus it will be too heavy to support a hanging basket on a hook. Look for brands such as ProMix, Fafard, or Hoffman. There are many mixes on the market to choose from and most of them have the component to achieve success.

Deep Pots Not Required

Hanging baskets are also well suited in regards to depth. Most succulents do not require super deep pots, and hanging baskets with an 8” diameter and about as deep are fine to use for many types of succulents. Even a minimum of 6″ deep is fine for many succulents. If they outgrow the hanging basket by the end of the summer season, they are easily transitioned to interior pots for keeping them indoors for winter, or propagated to make more succulents from a mother plant. They don’t mind being crowded in a basket for the short term of a summer season. Hanging baskets are a perfect choice and have so many benefits for succulents.

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Making Baby Succulents

As the succulent plants in your hanging baskets continue to grow and get bigger, you may create babies from your plants via propagation steps. One propagation method that is becoming practiced quite a bit by beginners is making baby succulents by propagating leaves removed from the succulent mother plant. There are many ways to perform propagation to achieve success but once you learn how, you will become a succulent baby making machine in no time. The endless benefits of succulents are to be enjoyed. Some succulent naturally produce off set side babies as well to keep the plant growing and to expand your succulent family collections.

Each Has Different Needs

Not all succulents are the created equal, however. Each has different needs. Did you know some succulents actually prefer less sun than others? And some succulents may burn in extreme sun situations, especially when moved out from the indoors to the outdoors for the first time. But, in general, they are very tolerant of being housed together in one hanging basket for the summer. Plants like Jades will play well with Echeveria or Sempervivums, for example. Many succulents are spillers or trailers, perfect to soften and hang from the edges of hanging baskets; think donkey or burro tail (two types of Sedums). And for plants with upright appeal, add a Kalanchoe paddle plant or Aloe in the center. The list of succulents is endless and in general, many share similar needs, such as limited watering, full sun to part sun, and minimal fertilizing needs. Succulents do well in full or partial sun outdoors, and when grown indoors, you should do your best to place them by the brightest windows in your home. If you see your succulents stretch, this may be a sign of not enough light, or they could be pushing out a bloom, which hardy succulents often do from their centers. In regards to temperature, it depends on the type of succulent! Hardy succulents tolerate the outdoors in winter but some should be protected. Soft succulents are not able to stay outdoors in winter. This is why the hanging baskets are handy, just bring them inside and set them on top of a pot for winter! Voila!

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Watering Conservatively

Watering is probably one of the most difficult tasks to master when it comes to training plant beginners. Because most succulents conserve water in their leaves, they are tolerant of watering neglect but they will not survive if they are completely ignored forever. They have very delicate roots and if not watered at all, those roots will dry up and die. Watering is based on the climate, location, season, and the type of patio or interior pot. There are different methods of watering, but when they are in a hanging basket, especially one with a natural liner, you can’t really over water them either due to the drainage which will occur in hangers with natural liners. In addition, succulents appreciate a bit of air space below their pots, and hangers provide this function. Misting succulents is not recommended. They should be watered only when the soil is completely dry. You may drench the soil in the hanging basket and allow the excess water to drip out to drain. It is not good to let water sit on succulents leaves, especially in the hot sun, due to a water mark appearing on the center of the plant at times. Shaking the basket after watering helps, it will cause the water droplets to roll off the leaves and its center rosette. The misting routine, often used, is really not best for some succulents.

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Observations

I have found succulents have done very well in hanging baskets ever since I started offering it as a workshop topic a couple years ago. Due to the succulents various sizes, styles, shapes, and tolerance, people have been successful with keeping the plants going in their hangers after the workshops. In fact, many have shown photos of how well the plants grew and they were able to maintain them in their homes during the winter.

Spring is upon us and by early June, it will be time to enjoy your succulent plants outdoors. It is important to transition them carefully in late May, gradually, before putting them in full sun or partial sun. They also require warm temperatures and you should avoid putting them out too early.

Refreshing succulent hanging baskets is easy to do as well. Much of this I will be showing to my attendees via Facebook Live videos soon. For Connecticut, they are safe to go out around the same time you would plant your tomato seedlings/starter plants, around Memorial Day. Now may be a good time to take a look at your succulents and consider refreshing them for the outdoor season.

Workshop Cancellation

My goal was to offer a workshop in May 2020 again on Succulent Hanging Baskets but this was cancelled due to COVID-19. Stay tuned for updates on what is next, which only time will tell (see my Services List below). I have plenty of pretty colorful hangers in stock now however. Guess that means, time for me to get planting. All of the above is explained in detail at my workshops, but alas, I think the workshop scene is on hold for my offerings in the coming months. I will be, however, refreshing my succulent hanging baskets in stock and offering them for sale. Lately, I’ve been offering porch pick-ups for folks in my area during this difficult time (for seeds and houseplants or succulents). It brings me great pleasure to know it has been helpful to cheer up their environment with plants and other things, like seeds for sale or houseplants. I guess succulent baskets may be added to my services list. I will see how the rest of this month goes!

Thank you,

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

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Market cancelled but I’m still here!

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Hi everyone,

The Ellington Farmer’s Market had to cancel tomorrow’s last winter market, where I was scheduled to speak, but hey – I’m still here! If you have a need for seeds, seed kits, fresh houseplants, or succulents, please reach out. I am located in Broad Brook, CT and we could arrange for a meet up if local or near my town.

If interested, lists of what is available are provided to you via email, etc.

In the meantime, please stay healthy and calm. Remember, plants calm the soul! Consider sprucing up your home with some air purifiers, grow some of you own seedlings now, and get your TP!

And also – a big thank you for all who attended last night’s Purse and Plant Party – it was really fun. Enjoy your new plants and purses.

I hope, truly, that everyone stays safe and sound.

Thank you – Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
containercathy@gmail.com

 

Purse and Plant Party

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Hello all,

What a wonderful winter we have had so far, right? No big snow storms. I hope I don’t jinx myself by typing this – but wow, it feels like spring on some days, although I did work outdoors for 3 hours on Sunday and it was very cold, brrr! I had overalls on, two shirts, a hat pulled over my ears, a neck warmer, thick gloves, a warm coat, and big snow boots to stay comfortable.

But, only one day later, I was outside without a coat unloading my truck from Sunday’s work in warm temps that felt more spring than winter. It seems the daily weather is fluctuating this year, and I would guess that most of us in Connecticut agree, it has been a mild winter. Thus, this gets us into thinking spring sooner, don’t you think? I do.

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PURSE AND PLANT PARTY

To kick off the ‘think ahead spring’ season, I am holding a collab with a friend (and she is my cousin too), called “Purse and Plant Party!” It will be held next week, Thursday, March 12, 2020 from 3 pm to 7 pm at a local restaurant, called Elizabeth’s Bar and Restaurant in East Windsor, CT.

Stop in any time to see the wonderful line of purses and accessories by Sales Rep, Maryse Kettle, of Buxton Co. There will be many colors and styles available for purchase. And, I will be offering succulent plants, plant gifts, seeds, and houseplants for sale. It will be held in the banquet room next to the bar area. We hope you can pop by. Please take note – checks and cash are preferred.

SEED SOWING DEMO

Two days after, I will be offering a demo at the Ellington Winter Farmers Market. The winter market is held at the YMCA and there is a large side room for demonstrations – find me there starting my talk at 2:00 pm, shortly after the market opens. I will talk about seed sowing for tomato and pepper plants primarily. There will be a hands-on opportunity for anyone wanting to start a 6 pack cell tray, and will have seeds for sale and seed planting kits. This is THE PERFECT date to get it all started. My demo is focused, as you know, if you are a follower, on planting in container gardens and patio pots. The talk is free to attend, the hands-on portion has a small fee, or you may purchase kits or seed packets. Now is the time my gardening friends. This is held in Ellington, CT. See link above. Again, cash or check preferred.

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PLANT BLOGGING

Ok! I admit it – I need to really blog some topics on here soon on plants and not just events. I have so many topics on my mind, it is not easy to find the time to sit down and write it all out – but I promise I will soon. If there is a particular topic you would like to hear about, please let me know.

WHAT I DO AND OFFER

I think now is a good time to remind everyone, in addition to holding plant related workshops and demonstrations, I also make custom plant gifts and install container gardens and patio pots for homes and businesses. I actually have 3 sites. This one, called Container Crazy CT, and one specific to workshops called WORKSHOPSCT.com. And my container install site is called, ContainerGardensCT.com. CT for Connecticut or for my initials, Cathy Testa. I am also on Instagram and have a gallery on SmugMug.

Well, I gotta go – today is one of the days leaning towards warmth and sunshine, expected to be 55-61 this afternoon – yahoooooo! Love that – especially when in the greenhouse making items for my upcoming events.

Thank you for visiting today,

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

 

 

 

 

Round Two and Three for KB!

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Beg Advance 2019

My next workshop is coming up on Saturday, December 7th, 2019 and all seats have been taken. We got our first decent snow fall yesterday and last night. In fact, my husband is out there right now plowing our driveway before heading to work.

The snow is a plus for our holiday greenery creations made in my workshops. The cold temperatures and a bit of moisture from the snow or mist falling on the kissing balls and/or wreaths prolong the life of the creations! That is the good news. But snow is somewhat of a PIA when it comes to moving in and out of the house or going back and forth to work or for holiday shopping, etc. However, the sun should (hopefully) shine during the next couple days, and it is always gorgeous out when there is full sun after a white snowy storm.

Last Saturday was quite the day. Everyone was super festive, in the spirit, and made the most gorgeous creations with fresh greens. The only down fall was I felt under the weather – darn colds, why do they exist? But this class was filled with mostly regulars and long-time attendees – so they know what to do. I am filled with warmth knowing and hearing about how attendees stepped up to help attendees who needed help. Also, my 3 Elf Helpers did so much to help and assist, I can’t thank them enough. Thanks to all.

This workshop has grown quite large and I’m getting older – it is not so easy to organize all and the timing for many aspects has to happen right before or after. People stepped up to help me when the caterer was late, the teacher (me) was a bit under the weather, and the clean-up needed to be done. Team work – so nice. Good thing I have thorough handouts to help too!

I don’t like to have anything not done well, so the patience was appreciated. The other good news, is hopefully, I’m getting better now. I did loose my voice but it sounds better this morning, and my sister, who is a singer, gave me all the tips on how to not stress the vocal cords more – like don’t whisper! So last night, I was actually “texting” my husband to save my voice to discuss upcoming items on the to-do list.

I’m making custom wreath and kissing ball orders for people this week too. That was actually very soothing for me yesterday because I didn’t focus on my little cold and took my time making some wreaths. I love the way they came out. And I always put on a holiday movie that is a bit corny but there is always a message, and good ones, so that is nice to have in the background while creating. It takes me two hours to make a wreath from start to finish with decor – and movies are usually two hours – perfect!

Now, up next, is the next Holiday Workshop on Saturday, Dec 7, and then another one on Sunday, Dec 8. Reminders to the attendees will be sent out mid-week. I’m so glad now that I did not plan a mid-week class. I needed the much needed rest! Mrs. KB Cathy Claus has been busy.

Photos will be posted later. I’m soooo excited I hired a pro photographer for last Saturday, and I sooooo can’t wait to see the photos. It will be a great way to see what I missed during the day.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy T.
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473

 

Twas the Night Before KB…and

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All through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a…

Wait! That isn’t how it goes… Crazy Cathy T is stirring.

Yup, how I wish I could sleep a few more hours this morning, but nope, the 5 am wake up call came.

Heck, I’ll just get up, cause tossing and turning is more frustrating for me.

Today is the day. The 10th year workshop of making kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces!

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My space will be filled with festive ladies, the greens are set to be brought out and placed outside, the decor is up, and I feel relatively pretty good, minus a little sore throat I had last night – but I know what that is – not a cold, but from feeling a bit run down, which happens to people in the plant world during the holidays as we rush to get things prepared. The good news, is it feels good this am. We went to bed early last night to get a good night’s rest.

Yesterday was supposed to be a “rest day” too – before my first workshop today, but kinks happened. Some of my greens arrived late on the Santa truck. We had to rush out to get them at the last minute. I also was planning to be off the hook with holiday decorations but my decorator got injured.

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You see, I had big visions for my 10th annual event to celebrate holding these workshops for a decade. I lined up a decorator months ago. I never went that crazy before, but this is special. I even had visions of reindeer and sleigh but we know that would REALLY be over the top!

A couple months ago, my decorator and I had a great plan. Greens and golds upstairs, a winter wonderland theme down stairs in the workshop space, and the bathroom would be filled with bubbles of balloons in whites and blues. My entrance would be decorated too. I left a lot undone, of course, as I had someone lined up.

But three days before my event, my decorator contacted me to say she had a terrible fall. She decorates many big venues for the holidays and she tripped over a black rubber mat on a floor at an install job. She landed on her arm and hit her head too. Luckily no concussion but she got a terrible black eye and broke her arm! Yikes. Poor thing!

She felt terrible to not be able to do what we planned. She offered to come do it with her husband and maybe do less. I made the decision right there. No, you stay home and get well. That is way more important. No worries, we will adjust our plans.

I also told her that my biggest fear is what if I got injured when busy. These things can happen, so I could appreciate her situation. Thus, yesterday, my husband got into action decorating our entrance, putting up more lights. I have to admit, I had some decor out already here and there. I was a bit relieved but then I had to get a little creative. In the end, all looks really great! No worries.

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Because I’m a planner, it is hard for me to go with the flow sometimes. It can be a good trait and a bad one too. However, planning helps to be prepared for things that can go wrong. And that is what we did – after all – the decor was going to be a surprise, but it is not mandatory to have fun.

My point being is we have to make due when these unexpected things comes up. And in the plant world, this is usually the case. Sometimes, I think, “Why did I go into plants?” OMG, it can be so stressful.

But the plant passion continues to drive me to keep going. I totally get into the zen mode when I create with plants, and so will the attendees today when they create with a beautiful mix of greenery to make their holiday masterpieces!

Workshop Number One kicks off today and then two more in a week. Rest and restocking will be required.

It is go time! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercrazyct

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3 More Days

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3 More Days until my first Holiday workshop on November 30th, Saturday. The seats are sold out, the workshop space is set up, the greens are on their way, and the holiday festive music is ready to play!

This year, as noted before, is a celebration year for me. I read it is important to celebrate your accomplishments, and holding these holiday workshops for 10 years, is one for me!

Cathy T Holding Large Wreath

Being a small business entrepreneur, there is not an often ‘pat on the back’ for what I’ve accomplished by people in the business, believe it or not! It is “my attendees” on the other hand who have always thanked me for holding this workshop. I believe it contributes to a community spirit by bringing together a bunch of ladies to enjoy kicking off the holiday, an they do appreciate this.

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I feel celebrating this year, as the 10th, is important because if you don’t take the time to do so, you could feel a bit deflated (for lack of better words). Celebrating – Well, it feels good. Overall, this workshop, in particular, I feel has been a success. There have been many, many challenges for me in the background to set it up and make it happen, but in the end, everyone has a good time, learns, creates and best of all get into the holiday spirit. It sets me in the right frame of mind as well. It is a win-win.

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Celebrating this event with my attendees, especially those who have attended every year, is a way to acknowledge how important attendees are to my success. Without them, this would not happen – and without me – it wouldn’t happen either! It is a combination that makes it happen. This Saturday’s event is a way to say thank you to them and to myself.

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Hopefully, I will be able to add other annual events, like the Succulent Topped Pumpkins workshops or the Seed Starting Workshops, to that 10 year list. These workshops started up a bit later, so they are behind, but we are getting there. They are well received and grow each season.

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So, now it is 3 more days until the first workshop, followed by a couple more, and making my custom orders, which I wanted to remind my readers, followers, and customers, I make custom wreaths and kissing balls. If interested, reach out to me soon. You may call or text me at 860-977-9473 or use email noted below. A price list is provided for those interested.

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Until Saturday – enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday (which by the way, I have beautiful large globes with succulent and fall themed decor in stock) as a perfect hostess gift or as a centerpiece accent. If interested, there’s still time. They have gorgeous live succulents in them and hang or may be placed on a table. Each is unique with cones, fall themed fruit decor, and lotus pods, etc. Pick up in Broad Brook, CT is required.

Clear Globe Fall 1

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9743
containercathy@gmail.com

 

Persian Shield is Purplelicious

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If you haven’t been introduced or seen the annual, Persian Shield, you are missing out on one of the most amazing purple colored foliage plants to use in container gardens.

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Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) enjoys full to part sun and will grow to about 18-36″ tall. It has an upright habit, makes an excellent filler, and is an annual plant except for zones 9-11. In CT, we are zone 6.

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In a part sun situation, under patio umbrellas, these plants performed beautifully this season for me at home. However, I also have installed them in full sun situations at client sites (photos on those later) this year, and they performed equally well because they are heat tolerant too. I guess you could say, this plant is very versatile.

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As a container garden installer, sometimes I will have some left over plants and assemble them at home in random fashion. Thus, this year, I put together 3 plants you may not consider would “work well” together for design purposes, but they did. They were a darker variety of rubber plant, Persian Shield, and mint.

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The mint served as a cascading spiller (and was handy to cut from for summer cocktails), the rubber plant served as the large and tall thrillers, and the Persian Shield was the filler (and is of a perfect height with the rubber plant which grew taller).

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I tend to enjoy foliage plants over flowering. Foliage lasts a long time (still going strong right now in mid-September) and adds a great deal of texture. In the case of Persian Shield, it has the narrow shaped leaves with pointy ends and the leaf veins and the somewhat ruffle texture on the leaf itself gives it a sense of ambiance.

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These two patio pots with Persian Shield graced the steps leading to the top level of my deck. When friends came by, they always stopped to not only comment on the Persian Shield’s coloring and beauty, but they also would reach down to touch the leaves with their finger tips. This is a true sign of a plant that is captivating.

The rubber plant’s darker toned and larger sized leaves gave the Persian Shield’s coloring a bit more impact but this plant also pairs well with softer colors, like pinks or softer purples, which is a combination I put together at a client’s full sun patio site this season (and will show photos of that combo later).

I have found the coloring of Persian Shield is best in the part-sun situations, but I would never limit it to only part sun. It tolerates the full sun situations. I watered these two pots regularly and the soil remained moist most times, although one should always be sure to not over water anything to the point of soggy. The nice thing about Persian Shield is it can take low water use as well. Again, easy and versatile.

This plant may be overwintered as a house plant, which I have not done myself, or you may take tip cuttings to root in water and hopefully keep it going to replant next season, or just run to the nursery in the spring time to get some more because Persian Shield is worth it.

In a future post, I will share more photos of how I used this plant and post about the rubber plants used in these combinations soon. They have an interesting story to go with them. 

In the meantime, enjoy the purplelicious nature of this wonderful primarily foliage plant (Note: It does bloom light purple flowers eventually but they are not very showy).

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
Broad Brook, CT

P.S. The beautiful photos in this post were taken by JMSArtandPhoto