Photos of Me, Cathy T

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I remember a friend not wanting any photos of herself on her garden website, and I get it, some people just prefer privacy, but as for myself, I felt it was an important aspect of my plant blog or websites to show who I am, after all, I know if I’m looking up a service person of some kind, I like seeing who they are. And often times, if working as a container garden installer in particular, it is nice to see who you will be entrusting your plantings to. Anyhow, today I decided to share some photos of me with plants from the past to present for fun. I was clearing out some file storage and came across a few photo memories!

Photo Shoot for a Feature in Go-Local Magazine

This is me, making a terrarium in my greenhouse. The editor of Go-Local came by with a photographer to take some “action” shots of me for a feature of my small business in their magazine issue. Go-Local is a cool mag! They feature small businesses in various towns and I love seeing their magazine still today. I offer Terrarium Kits and used to do Terrarium Workshops as well. In this photo, I’m sprinkling some horticulture charcoal in the bubble bowl, or perhaps that is the soil. I was surrounded with all kinds of plants which some I stared myself.

This one didn’t end up being used, which we can see why – my eye looks weird, but the rabbit with plant was cool. I made it as a plant gift around Easter. There is moss in the base with cute little dwarf like plants inside. It was just adorable. Sometimes I will spot cool and unique containers, and the red shiny bunny things were perfect as a neat pot of tiny plants.

Cathy Testa with a Tray of Castor Bean Seeds Just Starting to Push Out Leaves

Happy Camper Here – also by Go-Local, of me holding a tray of Castor Bean seeds which were just pushing up their first leaves. I wrote all about this plant, here’s the link. Anyhow, the greenhouse is my ‘heaven on earth’ as I am always happy in there, especially when the sun is shining. What is neat about Castor Bean plants is you can clearly see the cotyledons shaped differently from the first set of true leaves. It is an easy seed to sow and the plant grows massive.

2014 – In-front of my Chicken Coop

The chickens had quite the chalet back then, but I didn’t end up keeping the chickens, as they were unable to free range (too many wild predators in my yard with the Scantic River near by). The birch tree in the background is gone now (probably fell from a storm) and the Magnolia to the right of me is much taller now – probably as tall as me now, and has some intense rosy pink flowers each season. The outdoor chicken pen is covered with Kiwi Vines – they grow super fast and must be pruned often to not allow them to wander too far. They do produce kiwi fruit (takes about 5 years from planting with a male and female plant) and they are hardy in Connecticut. I usually don’t eat the fruit – they are small and a little bitter. Even though the chickens are no longer here, I love this area still with the shed and outdoor pen. I always try to think, what can I do with that outdoor pen? It is all shade now in summer due to the Kiwi Vine covering the top. If I had grandkids, it would be turned into a fairy garden.

Little red table with the Red Blooming Canna Lily

That little red table was a freebie find on the side of the road by my sister’s house and I spray painted it red. It was just coincidence the red canna lily plants in the background were blooming red too for this photo shoot. Those canna lily return each year now because the wall is located above an indoor basement woodstove, so the soil stays warmer in winter – that is my theory anyhow. There is a honeysuckle vine to my left, which I chopped all the way down last year because it was getting aphids a lot the past two years and I thought, heck, I’ll just chop it all down – it grew back healthy. And the red head planter was purchased while on vacation, and I still have it today. For some reason, no matter which plant I put in that red head planter, it thrives. Right now it has a hobbit jade that is doing super well in my home. I put it outside every summer. You can see some catmint (blue flowers), lamb’s ear (silvery foliage), a yucca plant with spent flower stem (that blooms every other year), along with other things, it is kind of a messy area now that needs work!

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

I don’t remember what year this was but many years ago. We always attended the North Atlantic Blues Fest in Rockland, Maine, and one year, we went to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on our way up or back, can’t recall, but I do recall the magnificent Delphiniums in the background at the gardens. Could you imagine having those at your home?!! Just beautiful.

Ah the Younger Me!

Sometimes when I see photos of me, the younger me, I think that was before I got the annoying tinnitus ear ringing issue! Anyhow, I look happy, don’t I? Who wouldn’t with a stash of plants like this – but they weren’t for me – they were for attendees of my container gardening workshops. Aren’t they beautiful plants? I used to pick up plants from Sunny Border in CT at that time. I haven’t been there in a long time, but years ago, it was a fav of mine. They used to have some cool tropical type plants but I am not sure if they do anymore. It is a massive wholesale grower.

Me at The Garden Barn in Vernon, CT

This is me, gosh, I think 10? years ago, really? Time flies. I worked there for two or three summers and this was me before I was about to do a presentation about perennial combinations for container gardens. If you haven’t been to The Garden Barn and Nursery in Vernon, CT, I highly suggest you visit them. They are a huge garden nursery and packed to the gills each season. I still go there from time to time, and always know I can find something I need. They are closed right now for a short time in the winter but are always packed with plants all year otherwise.

Outside of the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA

Going to the Boston Flower and Garden Show was always a routine for me. My husband, Steve, would indulge me for a weekend in the Seaport World Trade Center area in Boston. We’d have Mexican food mid-day, go back to the flower show, and usually go out to dinner for Italian food. This area has changed a lot in regards to buildings, etc., and this year, they are not holding the flower show at the trade center, as it is undergoing renovations and they are looking for a new location. Many buildings around this area have been torn down and replaced with high rises and such. Remember the old run down Irish Bar, what the heck was it called? It is gone now. Anyhow, I just loved going with Steve. I am holding plants I could not resist buying at the show with pink tropical flowers – and guess what? I can not recall the name of them right now.

Presenting in my Garage

LOL! I look so serious, I can only imagine I was talking about big pots during a container gardening presentation in my garage.

Me holding a Floral Arrangement

I coordinated a floral arrangement class once with guest speakers, and they did a wonderful job for my group of attendees teaching floral arranging and everyone made a gorgeous bouquet. It was around Valentine’s Day too. I made one too. Here I am, a happy camper. I have to note “floral arranging” in vases is really not my forte. I don’t know why, but I find it a bit challenging. Whereas container gardening and other plant related creations are not difficult for me. Not sure why I can’t do floral arrangements with cut flowers. Plants attached to roots and soil are not a problem for me – maybe that is what it is, something about the stem positions? Who knows!

2021 Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT

Finally, here is a recent one of me. I’m in my truck getting ready to head out to plant some plants at a container gardening site. This is those selfie types – you know all about those! I was happy to have a beautiful day to do some work and enjoy the sunshine, which I’m terribly missing right now during the winter. February is tough for me and why I got distracted with photos as I was organizing my office and office files.

Snowshoeing in New Hampshire

One of my winter hobbies is snowshoeing. I really do enjoy it and we went off on a trail for hours one day in Jackson Village, New Hampshire. Yes, that cooler has food for lunch. The beer was my husband’s. LOL. It started to snow heavily and we were covered in snow by the time we returned to our vehicle that day but it was lots of fun and the snow is so pretty. It is one way I keep myself distracted in winter – snowshoeing. The place we went to had many many trails, linked above, and I recommend it. There were lots of choices for trails. You could spend many hours there. They also have cross-country skiing there.

On a High Rise

I’m super happy to have a few high rise customers and do lots of planters and pots for them every season. In the foreground is a Mangave, on the right. Isn’t it spectacular?! I loved using it in a very tall planter one year in the summer there. I will write about this plant more. I have one that shot up a bloom stalk about 10 feet tall in my greenhouse which started in October and is still standing. More on that later. After working on a high rise for a few years now, I have learned a lot more about what works well. Sometimes I think I should write a mini-book about my experiences of working on high rise outdoor spaces. It is fun, unique, challenging, and rewarding.

Well, if you are not bored by now, I’m glad. I hope you enjoyed the me photos. It is a way for me to look back and seeing flower colors beats the dull and gray wet day outside right now.

Have a good weekend,

Cathy Testa
Container Gardener
Zone 6b, Connecticut
860-977-9473
containercathy at gmail.com
Dated: February 4, 2022

A better pic

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cathy-t-collage-pic

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

 

JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design – Next Guest Instructors

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The first time I attempted floral design at UCONN during my studies, it was awkward for me. I found it to be rigid and required a great deal of attention to balance, form, and structure. I remember my instructor was very formal and went over all the exact steps on how to do various floral design styles in each class which had to be followed in a very specific order. There was no playing around with the arrangement as we worked. It made me feel like I didn’t have the freedom to bend the rules.

Perhaps my frustration had to do with the feeling that I just didn’t have a natural talent for floral design, which is kind of odd to me because I enjoy putting together plants in container gardens and patio pots. For some reason, plants with roots attached versus plants cut from individual flowering stems, have always been easier for me. The process of selecting the plants by texture and color comes naturally as I insert them into a pot of soil, but floral design is a little different – because it requires a methodical approach.

However, I believe many people have a natural talent for floral design. They have an eye for how the parts come together in an arrangement – stem by stem. After all, when you arrange flowers in a vase or in glass container for display, you need to have each stem cut at certain length for the appropriate height and balance. The individual pieces must work together in form and function.

When I see beautifully arranged floral designs on the web, I always pause and admire the creator’s work, and that is exactly how I felt when I visited JEM’s Horticulture and Design’s website for the first time. Each floral arrangement made by the designers of JEM’s for various weddings were perfectly formed and assembled with really, really pretty color combinations based on various themes for each wedding they serviced – and I thought, their designs are traditional as well.

JEM’s Horticulture and Design

The art of floral design requires some basic skill to get started, which some people master over time, and I would have to say JEM’s Horticulture and Design has accomplished this. But, I didn’t know of them because I happened to browse their site accidentally. I met Jeff Mayer, owner of JEM’s, when I started my first nursery job after finishing courses at the University of Connecticut. At that time, he was new in the horticulture world, somewhat – but I was very new. We both had just acquired positions at a garden center and started chatting there as newbies. I was a career changer in my late 30’s, he was just starting his career in his early twenties.

Jeff and I started either on the same day or same week at the garden center. I can’t remember now exactly because that was over 8 years ago, but I remember we were learning our new jobs and getting acquainted with the regular long-time employees at the nursery.

As I got to know Jeff, he would sometimes offer me tips when I started drawing landscape design plans for customers of the nursery. He never mentioned to me that he had a degree in landscape design, but would try to help me whenever he could between moving quickly from the office floor to the nursery floor outdoors.

We also would joke about things from time to time, share plant passion comments during our daily work – and, I genuinely enjoyed Jeff’s company although he is half my age! Eventually we both moved onto different arenas in the plant world. We lost touch for a while, but we were both noticing our work online.

Fast forward to today. Jeff is a Head Grower of a very large grower based out of Cheshire, CT called CK Greenhouses. This is impressive. This growing facility sells to both to independents and big box stores – they process huge orders – into the thousands of plants.

In the winter time, Jeff has posted photos of their greenhouses filled to the brim with red poinsettias which is amazing to see as the miles and miles of bright reds, pinks and whites fill the scene. It’s incredible how many they grow there. And being a plant person myself, I know this effort requires horticulture expertise and talent.

One day last year, I decided to text Jeff to ask him a question about an insect problem I was having on a plant, and I took the time to tell him how I admire his progress in the horticulture world. He replied that he admired the creativity of my container gardens which he saw via my postings on Facebook. The bottom line is – even though I am not nearly as advanced as Jeff is with plant knowledge, we both seemed to find our niche in the plant world. And we both appreciate the differences of the working worlds we are experiencing today.

What I didn’t know was he and his wife, Mandy, started a floral design business in 2009. It started with their own wedding actually. It was the very first time they formally made arrangements, centerpieces, and corsages for a wedding. They decided to start offering their floral designs as a team and named the business JEM’s Horticulture and Design, with JEM’s being a play on their first names and sounding like “gem.”

As you can see from this photo from their wedding day – they didn’t do a shabby job for the first time creating wedding arrangements in colors of the reds, bright yellows, and warm oranges to represent an autumn wedding date of October. Their adventure of providing floral services for weddings and funerals took off from there. They have serviced over 15 weddings to date, and as you browse their links on the website, you will see the various colors used for each theme and season.

Jeff is a graduate of The University of Connecticut with a degree in Horticulture and also a graduate of The University of Maine with a degree in landscape design. With his two degrees and experience as a head grower, you can imagine he has a wealth of knowledge about growing various plants, trees, and flowers. However, I didn’t realize what a talent he had for floral design arranging until recently.

Mandy, whom I met for the first time when she and Jeff met my husband and I for dinner, said she learned the skill of floral design from Jeff and their friend, Dory. Dory lives in Maine where Mandy is originally from, and it is where they delivered floral wedding arrangements for Kurt and Cindy, among other friends from that area. They designed the bride and bridesmaids bouquets as well as the centerpieces and arbor flowers. Personally, I absolutely love them – the whites, pinks and soft rose color are gorgeous in the photos shown from Kurt and Cindy’s wedding day.

Mandy describes herself as crafty but she said she doesn’t have any formal training in floral design outside of what Jeff has taught her, and her friend Dory who has a background in floral design also taught her – so there you have it – some people are gifted at floral design – and I think she is, based on all the arrangements they have done for friends and family ever since they did their own wedding arrangements.

jenny

Mandy has an eye for the colors and what would go nicely together, per Jeff’s description of her style. And she says, Jeff has the eye for texture and how to shape an arrangement. He is very symmetrical with his floral designs, something, which I noted earlier, I do not. This is something you learn and master, or perhaps have a natural ability for doing.

Jeff has done everything from small corsages to large arrangements. While he may appear as the master mind behind their floral design business at JEM’s, in just the one dinner meeting with Mandy, I was impressed with her talents and the way she spoke about everything we discussed. She is a very smart young lady and has a keen sense for business.

Funeral Arrangements by JEM

We had the best time talking that evening over dinner, and I probably was over-talking because I was so excited to talk plants, flowers, and workshops with them both – all the while, my husband, Steve, quietly listened and ate his Italian meal with no objections. He was probably admiring the connection between us as plant enthusiasts.

Floral Design Workshop

There are specific things to learn about floral design from how to cut stems, ways to store them, and how to prepare the water for long lasting pieces, and you may become a master or be like me, coming along slower when it comes to floral design – but I do know this for sure – creating as a group in a workshop energizes everyone attending and participating. It is inspiring to share a space, learn, and create – Thus, I was super thrilled when both Jeff and Mandy accepted my invitation to teach a class this year as part of Container Crazy CT’s “Nature with Art” class programs. This workshop is scheduled on Saturday, February 6th, 2016 in my Broad Brook classroom. Start time is 11 am.

workshop phot

We timed this workshop so attendees may make their floral design arrangement just in time for Valentine’s Day. This workshop is a great way to share time with your mom or daughter making your very own floral arrangement and taking it home to display, or to gather up some friends to create your arrangement.

Our feature flowers at this workshop will be Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), spray roses (clusters of blooms on one stem), carnations, spider mums, mini carnations, daisies, and Ruscus (evergreen foliage). Additionally, attendees will have the option to buy a container at class (two types will be available) or bring their own of an 8” diameter. In addition, they will have the option of purchasing some special bicolor carnations, additional spider mums, and red roses. What more could you ask for?

I suggested to attendees currently registered that they may bring any embellishments they desire to dress up their floral arrangements, as shown on my Pinterest board. Bring it along, and we enjoy having Jeff and Mandy’s direction on everything at our workshop day.

To Register

We are so very lucky to have these two guest speakers on February 6th. There are seats still remaining. If you would like to register, please do so below, and confirm your seat by mailing in your payment ($45/pp) by January 15 to Cathy T’s Landscape Designs. The address will be provided after we receive your registration. We need to order the flowers three weeks in advance per my guest instructors, so don’t wait – We would love to have you to join us, but seats are limited – sign up today!

Family Photo

By the way, Jeff and Mandy have two beautiful children. They reside in Stafford Springs, Connecticut where their business is also located. Mandy also holds a degree in early childhood education from the University of Maine. She is a stay at home mom, and she and Jeff love combining their love of flowers, family, and home life.

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

“Stay Tuned for More Workshops! We are filling the 2016 Schedule!”

Bubble Photo with Logo