July 27 – Just sharing some photos at the end of the month

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Hi everyone,

I’m at the bookstore today, where I have a small plant showcase as a premier vendor, and just finished talking to a customer who was here to see what I had that is “new.”

She’s become a regular visitor – and new plant friend. She likes my inspiration and then she shows me all of her plant creations via her photos on her phone. We could talk for hours!

It has been so much fun showcasing and selling my plants here – and the best part is meeting new people and making new connections. Without my venture here, I would not have met many new plant enthusiasts as well as avid book lovers.

I could write a book on my experiences here – you see, I’m not a huge book reader myself (shh-don’t tell anyone!). Well, let me correct that – I DO read books, but most of the time, actually probably 99% of them, are related to plants, gardening, propagation, succulents, cacti, houseplants, garden tools, tropicals, gardens around the world, bugs, leaves, botanical subjects, etc. My home based office is FILLED with books on 5 long shelves. And, I don’t just “read” them, I use them for my research. The studying never ends in the world of horticulture – it is the name of the game. Learning! But it has been a very long time since I read a novel or love story – LOL.

Many times, however, especially during the winter, when I have spare time, one of my all time favorite things to do is getting cozy in a lawn chair, which I keep in the greenhouse for those sunny yet cold winter’s day, and read. I soak up the sun, warmth, sights, and sounds as I enjoy a good plant book. On sunny days in the winter, you can’t beat the warmth. It can get warm enough to not have your coat on and put on a bathing suit top – and get a sun burn if not careful! But the vitamin D is heaven on those cold winter days. I just love reading my plant books there.

In the summer, the only time I’m reading in the greenhouse is when I’m looking up a plant problem, and even then, it doesn’t happen much (reading that is) in the greenhouse in the summer cause the greenhouse is filled with plants and plant projects. I’m too busy watering or planting, re-potting, cleaning, and repeat.

My greenhouse space is quiet, however, no matter the season. The things I hear are the occasional dried up leaves blowing across the slanted roof top, or a turkey making a cooing sound to his fellow wild friends. Sometimes I’ll hear a hawk – and once, a hawk landed on the top of the greenhouse roof to observe the bird feeder on a tree nearby for his own living tasty treats. He swooped down over to the feeder from the greenhouse roof – what a sight to behold as I was sitting quietly reading, looking up and seeing the span of wings. And, lastly, sometimes I hear a faint meow from my cat walking by, or hear tons of birds chirping in the brush behind the greenhouse – they love that stuff.

Anyhow, my point being – I do read, but it seems always to learn about plants – Plants! Plants! Plants! How did this planting thing become such a crazy (as in Container Crazy CT) obsession? Well, let’s not go there – that is another LONG story.

This year provided me with MANY new challenges and ventures. I decided to try my hand at houseplants – and WOW, was that ever a fun new gig. I met a wonderful grower, who truly supports me and treats me with respect. I feel this is a gift. A plant connection friendship formed and little did I know – I would learn a tremendous lot about houseplants – by observing, growing them, caring for them, and asking questions when I didn’t know the answer – it’s been all good. And now, I’m fond of them more than ever before. However, no worries, friends. I will continue to offer my other usual too, from perennials to wildly large tropicals. I just like to mix it up every year. It helps us all to grow as plant lovers. Plus, it is fun.

Now – for photos – let’s go so I can stop rambling, and do what I set out today, which was to share some photos…

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Ah, this was fun – making a circular pattern with my BEAUTIFUL succulents!

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My friend Terri came in to make a big terrarium – one-on-one style – which I offer by appointment at the bookstore on Tuesdays and Thursdays – did you know?!!

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My big Staghorn Fern – This was a new workshop offered earlier this year – what fun! I’ve expanded this whole process to mounting other plants to boards. I even painted one board in red-white-blue colors for the 4th of July, and I made custom theme boards for customers. It was the year of “wall-art!”

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Alocasia African Mask – I LOVE the look of this plant – and it is a new one for me this year – it does really well indoors in bright indirect light. I also found it has been thriving in a situation where I have one in very organic soil as an under-story like plant (below bigger leaved plants). It does not take full sun well at all – it needs shade. Also, it prefers “moist” soils, but not water logged. I give it a little water every time it is dry to the touch on the top but not soaking water.

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Oh God – This Canna ‘Cleopatra’ is ga-ga-ga-gorgeous. I scored a few BIG pots of them – full enough to last you a life time if you overwinter the storage organs (as I refer to them), which I teach how in my “Overwinter Plants” workshops – but back to this plant! It is soooo beautiful; the dark toned striped patterns in the leaves and it blooms, not only red, but also yellow flowers! How can a plant offer so much? Those of you who bought a plant at my workshop or from me at the bookstore – congrats.

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Here, I was showing an elephant ears tuber (bulb, corm – whatever you prefer to call it – although technically they have different names) – no matter, this was a big one! I potted up many this season and sold quite a few elephant ears of my own. One can not have a container garden thrill (or thriller) without one, in my opinion! They last into the fall, bob in the wind, and are easy – they prefer shade but can take sun if you water – a lot!

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Ah, this photo is showing moon flower seeds. This is another “new” offering by me this season – selling seeds by Hudson Valley Seed Co. All 100% certified organic seed and open-pollinated. Well, I had to sow some of my own of this plant which get huge, tubular, white flowers at end of summer. In fact, my plants are growing in a pot and I trellised them up to the light on my garage with garden twine which they freely accepted – the plant’s vines finally reached the light fixture – and I think it may go as high as the gutters of the garage. Because the seeds are open pollinated, any seed I collect from my plants will be true-to-type for next year’s round. Bonus! You buy one seed packet and you can keep it going on for years if you harvest your seeds from the plant.

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I’ve been offering so many terrariums workshops – I’m becoming known as the “terrarium lady” – and one day, a customer came in with a terrarium she had owned for one year – a gift from a friend, and it was so overgrown, she asked me to renew it – which I did – and I made up 3 terrariums for her. That was a fun project. BTW, our next TERRARIUMS workshop is on a Monday, August 21st, 6-8 pm at the Stafford Cidery! See http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for all the details.

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And to finish off today’s “picture post” is a flash back of some of the containers created by attendees from my May Container Garden Workshops. I hope everyone’s creations are doing well. Now, it is time to stay tuned to the fall and winter workshops, after you finishing enjoying our summer vacations and the rest of our summer months! We have a few coming up:

8/21 – Stafford Cidery – Terrariums
9/15 – Book Club Bookstore – Overwintering Plants
9/20 – Stafford Cidery – Microgreens Growing
9/27 – Container Crazy CT’s BB location – Overwintering Plants Early
10/7 – Container Crazy CT’s BB location – Succulent Topped Pumpkins
10/16 – Stafford Cidery – Succulent Topped Pumpkins
10/14 – Container Crazy CT’s – Overwinter Plants (timed for fall frost)
12/2 –  Container Crazy CT’s – The 8th Annual Holiday Kissing Ball & Wreath Making
12/6 – Container Crazy CT’s – Weeknight Kissing Ball & Wreath Making Workshop

Enjoy! July is almost over!

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

If you are an Instagram fan – I’m there under ‘containercrazyct’ – look me up – I am constantly posting photos!

Thanks, Cathy T.

Other services:

Plant Refurbishments
Garden Talks
Demonstrations
One-on-One Private Sessions for Workshop topics
Plant Deliveries – coming soon

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Plants

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

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

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Cost

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

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Easy Registration:

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

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

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Thank you for Attending!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

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

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Address to Bookstore:

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

First Kokedama Workshop, and The Next

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

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

IT’S SPRING, RIGHT?!

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

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THE PIECE YOU MAY MAKE

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

THE WORKSHOHP LOCATION AND TIME

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

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

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

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WALL ART CANVAS BOARD

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

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THE FEES

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

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TO ATTEND

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

860-977-9473

containercathy@gmail.com

Thank you,

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

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More about Container Crazy CT’s new venue in South Windsor

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been getting the word out about a new venue where I will be available every Tuesday and Thursday starting March 11th at a bookstore, BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More, in South Windsor opening March 1st.

When my sister, Louise, asked me what will I have at the store, I thought it would be a good idea to set the vision so my attendees will know the scoop.

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Many times people have asked me at farmers’ markets and other pop-ups where they can find me, well, this will be the place.

TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS

My regular days will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, where I will be there to answer questions about plants, workshops, and well – I’m sure gardening books!

Since this store is a bookstore, you will find many new and used books, and the store also hosts special author appearances and regular book club discussions.

Nestled among the books will be Container Crazy CT’s items for sale and some plants, etc.

WORKSHOP PROTOTYPES

Every month, the game plan is to showcase workshop creations at this location. This way attendees may see what we will be making at scheduled workshops being offered at the bookstore for smaller groups.

SPECIAL ORDERS

Additionally, special orders may be placed with me for pickup at the store any day of the week based on requests. My large stock of plants will be maintained in my greenhouse at another location, but will be made available to you. It will be an exciting season to say the least.

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LOCATION

The store is conveniently located off of Sullivan Avenue in a United Bank Plaza at 869 Sullivan Place. As you enter the plaza, look for the bookstore on your left. It is only six miles from Broad Brook.

There are many other nice stores there too – a huge pet store, a massage and fitness facility (heard the yoga classes are great there via my other sister, Rosalie.) And I just met the owner of the health facility yesterday when I delivered some tables to the store. He was very pleasant and we discussed how my healthy and nutritious microgreens growing demonstration in March may be of interest to his clientele.

My setup will be somewhat in transition because I am traveling next week – where I will be including tropical plant research in my adventures – and returning just in time for the opening – which is March 1st. Expect to see change outs as my vision evolves.

FIRST FREE PRESENTATION

To kick off my first official day there, I will be offering a free presentation on “6 Design Tips for Container Gardens” on March 11th at 10:00 am. We ask that you register on the bookstore’s Facebook events listing as seats are limited.

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NEW WORKSHOPS ADDED

Container Crazy CT will continue to offer workshops at her usual location in Broad Brook, but now we have added this new place with more dates, plenty of parking, and more. Some of the workshops recently added are Botanical Wall Art (March), Kokedama balls (dates to be posted soon), Terrariums (April), etc.

See www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for all the dates and information.

STARTER KITS

We will have kits available for special features, such as our microgreens growing kits, available at the workshops or by request. This is another vision I have – making kits for you so you may elect to create an item at home on your own if you wish.

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And you know, I am so ready to plant up these containers framing the bookstore’s window, as soon as spring arrives. See you there soon!

Thank you,

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

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A better pic

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There. That’s Better.

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

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

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

Upcoming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

2017 Flower Arranging Workshop – Open for Sign-Up’s

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Good Morning Everyone,

Just a quick post to remind followers and interested people – our registrations are now open for the February 11th, 2017 Flower Arranging Workshop.

Location: Broad Brook, CT

Guest Speakers: JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design

We require confirmed seats three weeks before the workshop date to ensure the “freshest flowers”  – so please visit our sister site listed below for all the details and express your interest today, ask questions, or look at our Gallery to see prior workshop photos of everyone’s beautiful creations.

www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

Additionally, we have posted many workshops upcoming in 2017. Visit the site to see each one and let’s get together to make it together this year!

Thank you,

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

 

Succulents are Tough, but Not Indestructible

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

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

How tough?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all of this said – succulents are not indestructible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Pot them Up

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

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

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

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

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Sun or shade

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

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Babies

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

Creations with Succulents

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

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

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

 

 

 

Autumn Brings Beauty and Overwintering Work for Gardeners

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I think everyone in our area of Connecticut would agree – the fall foliage colors are absolutely spectacular here this year – what a treat for the eyes to see the bright golden yellows and reds against clear blue skies. There are trees in my yard which never looked so vibrant, even the kiwi vine over my chicken coop pen is beaming more than ever, but alas, the leaves will fall and the holidays are right around the corner.

#autumn at the beach yesterday!

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In preparation for the fall, I have spent the last three weeks putting away many of my tropical plants and conducting a mini workshop on the famous succulent pumpkins. It was the first workshop offered at Container Crazy CT’s on this new fashion – Pumpkins covered with succulent plants and decor! The workshop was conducted with an Insiders Club members – what fun we had. We are testing our results based on the techniques we used to assemble and design them, and all of this will be shared in next year’s workshop – I know this workshop will grow. These succupumpkins are addicting.

#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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Yesterday, a stink bug was still sitting on one of my succulent pumpkins in my house. I had to laugh – these guys are slow moving but he didn’t move for 24 hours. There is a black plastic spider on the top and I thought, “Does he think the spider is real?” LOL.

#succulentpumpkin #autumn #stinkbugs #succulents

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Part of my autumn overwinter process included collecting seeds from Canna, Castor Beans, and other misc perennials which are stored in plastic pill bottles and kept in a dark cool place in my home for use next season. Here’s a photo of the Castor Bean (Racinus) which look like ticks! Oooooh! I also take various cuttings and do some propagation, as well as divide and repot plants to keep (as shown with the lemon grass in my prior post).

#castorbeanseeds #racinus

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If you have been watching my posts this year, you surely saw the container filled with a huge green elephants ear (Colocasia), and I had to finally take it down, such sadness, but one of my workshop attendees asked me for the leaves because she is doing some leaf castings – and so that helped soften the blow – knowing the leaves will be used for an art related project. And, just maybe she can teach us when she perfects her process of leaf casting at my workshops. I can’t wait to see her results.

#containergardening #tropicalplants #autumngardening #ensete #overwinteringplants #workshops

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The elephants ear grew very very large, at least 3 ft long leaves. Here is the bulb located at the base of the trunk shown below when I dug it up. I call it a trunk as I type here but technically base of the stems, but it looked like a trunk because that elephant ear grew very lush this year. I just adored it.

#colocasiaesculenta #colocasia #autumngarden #overwinteringplants

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Now, I will store this bulb to reuse next season. All the steps, tools, process, and products used to store my tropical plants were covered in my “Overwintering Tropical” plants workshop earlier this month. We had lots of fun as you can tell from our smiles in the above workshop photo where we are holding leaves of one of my red banana plants (Ensete). We covered everything you need to know and enjoyed a sunny day following a morning frost.

#tubers #colocasia #elephantsears #autumn #overwinteringplants #bulbs

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And I have to be honest, I was getting tired of storing bulbs, rhizomes, tubers – you name it – I had a lot of plants this year. Here’s a photo of the stack of boxes I was about to hand-truck to my unheated basement for the babies put to rest for the winter. The only good news was the weather was cooperating – it was nice and sunny almost every day – so I wasn’t working with cold hands as in years past. We had a frost on the same day I held my “Overwintering” workshop – which was perfect timing. But about 3 days later, we had a day in the 80’s – when I snuck out to go to the beach! Why not?!

Next on Container Crazy CT’s workshop list is my first ever Growing Nutritious Soil Sprouts workshop – We decided to add a week night workshop by request – so it looks like this one is underway with a few sign-up’s. I can’t wait to show this process – to grow sprouts all year round, starting now in the fall – is a great way to have fresh sprouts which are oh so healthy on your salads, on appetizers, in soups – all perfect for upcoming Thanksgiving meals, or for those moments when you want a nice warm soup on a cold winter day. I could go on and on about these sprouts but I will save that for the attendees of this workshop in November. See my http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site for all the details.

Next workshop. #sprouts See WorkshopsCT.com. Two dates Nov 5, Nov 10. #containergardening

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But as busy as I’ve been the past few weeks, I still take the time to go have some fall fun – stopping by Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT to see their scarecrow competition – it was a PERFECT day – and they did such a wonderful job. I have to enter next year – my brain is already brewing with a scary container garden scarecrow.

#scarecrows #autumn #farms #halloween

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And to cap off this quick post – I have to share the photo of my beautyberry shrubs (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’). I post a picture every year around this time – these purple berries can not be beat. They are so pretty right now. I planted three of these shrubs many years ago – and I remember I followed the spacing instructions exactly, but they can be maintained easily with a good pruning every season. They are deciduous, cane-like shrubs. The branches tend to arch and the color of the leaves is a bright light green color. The purple berries are clustered and they reach their beauty in October. In winter, the leaves will drop off but the berries do hang on a long time. Seeing them makes me consider if my May 2017 workshop should entail beautiful shrubs such as this one.

#autumn #fallshrub #berriedshrub #callicarpa

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#callicarpa #berriedshrub #fallshrub #autumn

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Well, that is all folks for this Friday morning. Enjoy your Halloween Festivities if you have them on the agenda for the weekend, and don’t forget to visit my Instagram pages for many more photos of all the activity discussed above.

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