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

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Good Spring Morning Everyone,

Just a heads-up, the BOOK CLUB Bookstore, 869 Sullivan Avenue (United Bank Plaza), South Windsor, CT is holding their grand opening celebration this Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

We hope you will swing by to say hello, visit my showcase at the bookstore, and learn about the store’s many offerings.

I will be there to answer any questions you may have regarding my workshops, plant gifts, and container garden installations.

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A Happy Customer with New Bert’s Birdhouse for her garden!

Available Today

Seeds by Hudson Valley – 100% Certified Organic

Houseplant Gifts of Small Carry Sizes

Succulents and Cacti

Bert’s Birdhouses – Now on Stakes!

Terrarium Showcases

Terrarium DIY Kits (underway – hope to have at the Grand Opening)

Workshop Flyers

Micro-greens Starter Kits

Workshop Gift Cards – Perfect for Mother’s Day

Seed Sowing Kits (underway – hope to have at the Grand Opening)

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Beautiful single Soft Succulents in Stock today!

WORKSHOPS Coming Up

I plan to hold a lunch time hour soon to repeat my free Cathy T’s 5 Must Do’s for Container Gardening demonstration for those who missed it last weekend on Earth Day – please stay tuned for available dates and locations.

May 4 – Micro-greens demonstration at the bookstore

May 13, 17, 20 – Container Gardening Workshops (3 venues this season for you to choose from). Registrations are now open.

May 25 – Basic Seed Starting at the bookstore (and I plan to offer this demonstration during a lunch hour earlier this month as well – location TBD.)

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WORKSHOP INFORMATION AT

Be sure to visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to learn of this year’s plant theme and all the details of our upcoming May Container Gardening Workshops. I’m very excited to continue offering this annual hands-on workshop for all my attendees and new friends.

Thank you for supporting small businesses in our local areas!

We couldn’t make it without you – I appreciate everyone’s recent visits and hope you will be visiting on Saturday, 4/29, 10:30 am-12:30 pm, if you haven’t popped in yet.

Thank you,

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Begins On Monday – Time to Move In Your Plants

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Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to remind you to think about that statement I made at the Big Container Garden Party in May:

Do not let your succulent plants, cacti, or houseplants with tender foliage in your outdoor container gardens and pots stay out in the cold damp weather too long.

It has been my experience if you let that soil stay cold, and it remains wet – and then you move them inside, two things typically happen.  The tender soft foliage of these types of plants start to rot at the base, or sometimes the damp wet soil invites little critters to take residence in the pot.

So as noted on your handouts from the May Big Container Garden Party class titled, “The 7 MUST NOT DO’S WITH SUCCULENTS & CACTI“, is that you should not leave them out beyond summer when we start to get continuous cold evening temperatures.  (Try this test: Touch the side of your pots – if Terracotta or glazed, they are chilly right now – even in the sun.  The type of container may contribute to cold soil at this time of year, despite the nice warm sun we are having.)

This week has been nice and sunny during the day, so if for some reason your soil in your pots is really damp/wet, give it some sun, don’t water, and let it dry out a bit – then start to move them in soon.  Frost typically happens early to mid-October, so there is still time to enjoy other plants, as follows:

Canna, Elephant Ears, and Banana Plants

As for the Canna, Elephant Ears, and Banana plants – they can handle this weather a while longer into early October before the first frost of Autumn hits.

If you wish to keep the Canna, Elephant Ears, or Banana plants in their pots inside the home – my advice is reduce the watering now – it will dry out the soil a bit, makes the pot lighter to move, and kind of the same theory as above, the soil won’t be damp when it is moved inside – reducing your risk if critters moving into damp soil. Pick a sunny window in the house from that point forward.

If you wish to store the Canna, Elephant Ear, or Banana plants base or storage organ, such as the rhizomes under the soil for the Canna, you may allow it to get hit by the fall frost – The foliage will turn black and soft – and you can cut that all off and then work to remove the rhizome or corm for the Canna and Elephant ear respectively.  For the Banana Plant, refer to my blog where I posted all the steps.

There is also choice #3 – if you want to keep the Canna, Elephant Ear, or Banana plants in their pots and you have a basement to move them into – this is also a technique for overwintering them.  Again, pick a spot, don’t water it much now, and let it look tattered over the winter but just hanging in there. For basement option, must do before frost as well – which probably will happen in mid-October.

Elephant Ear - Colcocasia

Elephant Ear – Colcocasia

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets)

Another plant sold at the Big Container Garden Party was the Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets).  These should not be hit by frost.  I recommend you move them in to the home if you wish as a houseplant before frost hits, or into your basement to go dormant.  In the basement, most of the leaves will fall off, it will look tattered over the winter, but will bounce back (usually!).  Also, Brugmansia (Angel Trumpets) may be pruned back hard if you wish – pruning off all the stems and part of the stalk, but then you would not have the tall height next season if you wish to keep it tall.

Succulents, Cacti, Alpine Plants

Also, a reminder about another “do not do’s” with the succulents, cacti, and alpine like plants – do not put them in dark rooms, or between curtains in the house.  Do not let them sit in water catch trays.  Do not put them in a very shady spot in the home, or by really cold pockets. They need a bright sunny window, and reduce watering them regularly.  South or West facing windows are typically best. Refer to your handout on more details about how to water them in the winter months.

Hens and Chics

Hens and Chicks – Sempervivums

Hypertufas with Hens and Chick Plants

Hypertufas!  Did you buy one in May?  Well, the good news is they can remain outdoors – the material of the pot is pretty tough – but I say move it to a protected outdoor location, the hens and chicks in the pot will come back next season.  You may want to put it under your porch steps, or if you have a woodstove, heck, put it by the foundation wall near that area outdoors.  Or bring it in and place in a sunny window to treat as a houseplant, reduce the watering, etc.  The plants will look like they are not alive at some point, but they hang in there – believe me – they bounce back.

Mini-Crimson Mandevilla

Mini-Crimson Mandevilla

Mandevillas

Mandevilla – These too can be stored over the winter in somewhat of a tattered state, cut the vines back, and put them in the basement, they will loose leaves over the winter, but will hang in there.  More information can be provided if you have any further questions. This tropical like vine will be showy for a while more too – but don’t let it get hit by frost.

Perennials – Some of the plants were perennial and you may remove them from your container gardens and transplant them into the gardens of the ground, or often they return in the pots if you move them to a protected location over the winter (i.e., garage), especially if you used a big pot with lots of soil mass as your container garden when you put these together in May.

Thank you, and for those registered for the Octobert Hypertufa Class – I’ll see you soon!

Cathy Testa

P.S.  The “Evergreens Kissing Ball & Holiday Creations” class date has been noted above and on the side bar of this blog.  It is Saturday, December 6th, 2014.

Cathy T at the Ellington Farmers Market – Edibles, Succulents, and More

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Good Morning Everyone,

In June of 2009, I was interviewed by Sarah Martinez for “Garden Center Magazine” about my Container Garden Parties at people’s homes, and one statement I made to her at that time was, “Holding these parties at people’s homes is a lot of work – but I enjoy it.”

Well, the same holds true today.

Last weekend, Cathy T’s Big Container Garden Party (Class) was held, and the plant feature was succulents, alpines and tropical plants – and again – it was a lot of work to setup, but so much fun.  Being with a group of attendees interested in creating and learning – well, it can not be beat.

Attendees listening to Cathy T's Tips

Attendees listening to Cathy T’s Tips

The opportunity to share what I have learned over the years about Container Gardens and plants presents itself again at the Ellington Farmers Market today in Arbor Park on Main Street in Ellington, CT.

Come see me at 10:00 am in the gazebo. (Note:  There are 2 gazebo’s on the property, one will have musicians, the other along Main Street is where I will be on the farmers market grounds.)

The market opens at 9:00 am and closes by noon.  It will be a fast paced day filled with goodies – including a talk on “Decorative Edibles in mixed Container Gardens” by me.  I hope to see you there today.

And because I have beautiful succulents and alpines in stock, I will have those available for sale too.  If you haven’t completed planting up your container gardens and patio pots – come see the goodies available.

Succulents, Alpines, and Cacti

Succulents are plants with thick and strong leaves and stems.  Because they are designed to store water during periods of drought – they are tough little plants.  Some are dainty and others offer bold and strong architectural forms.

Cacti are similar to succulents; they store water in their stems.  Some have areoles with spines, so they can be very strong and even dangerous if not handled appropriately, but so worth it in my opinion, for many offer values in design compositions in container gardens.

In my class last weekend, I went over the 7 ‘Must Not Do’s’ with Succulents, so if you want to know what those are – see me today or sign up for a future class.

Oh and alpines – well, they are just adorable little plants popular to use in rock garden settings, as ground covers, and in crevices — and of course, in big or small container gardens.  This small wired basket is a creation by an attendee last weekend, Linda.  Isn’t it as sweet as ever – so small but so cute.

A dainty creation with alpines by an attendee

A dainty creation with alpines and herbs by an attendee

Sometimes you get inspired when you work with small plants too.  Yesterday, I took snips and cuttings of various succulents and alpines to create this adorable, dainty tea cup embellishment for a table.  Want to give it a try?  All supplies, the vintage bone china tea cups, plants, and instructions will be available at the market at the gazebo.

Cuttings of Succulents in Vintage Tea Cups

Cuttings of Succulents in Vintage Tea Cups

The tea cup plate and cup on the left, by the way, will be available for purchase. These cups go for $20-25 dollars on eBay – I will have them for a deal at a limited supply so if you want one, arrive early before they are all sold out.

But succulents, as noted above, can be very edge looking, and another attendee at the class scored an amazing container – check this out!  Topped with a very large Sempervirens (Hens and Chick), alone it makes a statement.  Her tall silver GARDEN container will rock it outdoors, and is easily moved indoors over the winter if desired.  I think it was my favorite container style brought by an attendee this year – so fun to see what they find and design in class.

Lisa's GARDEN container rules!

Lisa’s GARDEN container rules!

Succulents and cacti offer extremely different ranges of forms and textures.  Take the Faucaria tuberculosa on the left in the photo below.  This plant is a South African native and has the most interesting triangular leaves and it is a soft silvery blue color. This looks great with darker toned succulents in a pot, but it is also a neat form to work with.  It is a Zones 10-11 plant so perfect for the heat of summer and as a house plant in winter.  It is very easy to grow and will bloom yellow flowers in late summer.  The common name is Pebbled Tiger Jaws – perfect name, I would say.

Awesome forms and textures

Awesome forms and textures

And check out the plant on the right – Gasterworthia ‘American Beauty’ – it is NEW on the scene.  This is a hybrid of Gasteria and Haworthia pumila (maxima) grown by local growers in CT – and the rosette is stunning – patterned with spotting on the leaves. It is shooting up yellow flowers right now.  Both will be available for sale today at the market, along with many other types.

Two Types of Jades

Two Types of Jades

The plant with red edged leaves is a Jade plant by the name of Crassula arborescens – also NEW on the scene.  How can you resist this plant? – it has fleshy, blue-gray foliage and stands upright but full and mounded too.  It eventually grows to 3 to 4 feet wide, and I think they are stunning.  Also, a common Jade (as seen in the background), Crassula ovata, is in this photo – a common houseplant which I think looks amazing in head planters.  Go see my Container Garden Collages for photos of a red head pot to see.

Hens and Chics

Hens and Chics

These are just ‘sneak peeks’ of today’s plant features.  Echeverias with a variety of colors and fleshy leaves tinged with colored edges will be available too.  The Genus name is named after an 18th century Mexican botanical artist, Atanasio Echeveria y Godoy – now you know why they are called Echeverias (a.k.a., Hens and Chicks).  And be on the look out for Agaves, Aloes, Kalanchoes, and other’s.

But now it’s time for me to sign-off and get ready for my day.

See you there,

Cathy Testa
http://www.cathytesta.com
ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473