Planning for the Unexpected

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This week was kicked off by a sensational Super Bowl game, which I know not from watching it but from reading all the excited posts about the game the very next day on Facebook.

Because I am not a sport’s fanatic, I didn’t stay up to watch the game, but it was very entertaining and inspiring seeing all the comments on Monday morning from friends’ posts, which spurred my interest for sure.

Fortunately, we had recorded the game before going to bed on Super Bowl Sunday.

I have to admit, my motivation for recording the game was to see what Lady Gaga would do for her performance, but Steve also wanted to view the game the next day after work.

Due to all the hoopla on Facebook, we both were anxious to see the final seconds in particular as soon as Steve got home from work Monday evening.

As we were viewing it, however, an unexpected prompt appeared right before the last 3 minutes on our TV recording system indicating we ran out of recording time.

ACK! How did that happen?

The game went into over time and I guess that is why. You can’t imagine how disappointed we were.

What a bummer.

That rule of “what can go wrong, will go wrong” occurred in that moment, and I’m sure we will never record something without considering the over time factor ever again.

I decided to start this blog post with the fact we experienced an after-game excitement, but then a bit of let down, but no matter, the whole event was fun regardless, and we moved on, learned from it, and said well, better planning next time.

This year, I believe, will be filled with excitement at Container Crazy CT because I am offering more new workshops. And lots of “planning” is involved.

My workshops have already begun for 2017 and many plans are underway for more and new ones – from ordering plants, posting updates, letting everyone know what is coming up, and more. There are many steps involved, you can’t imagine. And in the gardening world, factors like climate, plant availability, changes in season – are out of our control, but we do our best to look ahead and consider the unexpected’s.

My workshop offerings start off with this weekend’s, for our second annual “Flower Arranging Workshop” – and all seats sold out. I’m thankful the big snowstorm coming Thursday is before Saturday when we will have a great day learning about floral design and succulents in floral arrangements. But we do plan ahead and have snow plows always ready and a backup date “if” it a big storm was to occur on our schedule dates.

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The next workshop up is my “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop, which I’m even more excited about and have all planned out – Hopefully no surprises will occur at the last 3 minutes – but we adjust – as we always have, which is often the case in the gardening world. This a new workshop with a living plant and custom made canvas board. The creativity will be happening in this event because there are many opportunities to do so.

Following the March “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop – being offered two times, one session in Broad Brook and the other in South Windsor, we will have a building “Terrarium Bowls“, and of course, my annual “Container Gardening Workshop” is being held in May again on several dates in Broad Brook, Vernon, and South Windsor.

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To learn more about all of them – and to plan ahead, please visit:

www.WorkshopsCT.com

Be sure to stop by so you don’t run into overtime and miss the excitement or opportunity to be part of it – like Steve and I did with the game. Seats are limited in some sessions so pre-registering early is recommended.

Hope to see you there,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9743 (texts are welcome)
containercathy@gmail.com

Container Crazy CT’s blog is all about combining nature with art, plants, and workshops.

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Workshops – Make and Enjoy! What’s Coming UP.

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I promise to get back to posting about plants very soon! But, I want to take a moment to let you now of the workshops on the 2016 Calendar. They are listed below.

We kick off the year with Floral Design scheduled for this Saturday. Can’t wait. I will share photos of our floral creations the week following.

After that, I will be at a local bookstore for an Authors & Artisans’ Event in Broad Brook. See the date and link below. Garden journals and mini plants will be available for purchase, plus floral arrangements by JEM’s. Swing by to see this quaint bookstore on Main Street and visit with local small business owners. Learn about their services and more.

However, the pace doesn’t stop there – Next is the Hartford Flower Show. If interested in car pooling from Broad Brook on Saturday, February 20th, reach out. We have a small group forming. It helps with sharing parking fees and we learn from each other as we walk and talk the flower show floor.

That’s the start of the year in February, but – wait there’s more. My annual workshops kick in from there where we “learn – make – and celebrate combining nature with art”.

For photos of prior workshops, visit my Pinterest board. We hope you will join us this year – we love meeting new friends at these events and classes.

WORKSHOPS BY DATE

February 6, 2016 – Saturday – 11 am to 1 pm
FLORAL DESIGN with JEM’S HORTICULTURE AND FLORAL DESIGN
$45 pp

February 13, 2016 – Saturday *
Authors & Artisans Valentine’s Shopping Event
Book Club Bookstore & More in Broad Brook, CT
10 am – Free to Attend

February 20th – Saturday *
Group Meet Up: Flower Show in Hartford – 9 am
Meet in Broad Brook; Car Pool

May 14, 2016 – Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm
CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOP – Edibles, Herbs, Veggies, and More!
$15 pp (plus cost of plant purchases at class)

May 21, 2016 – Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm
CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOP AT STRONG FAMILY FARM, Vernon, CT
Registration Fee TBD

May 28th – Saturday *
CONTAINER GARDEN TALK – HOW TO’S AND DESIGN TIPS
Ellington Farmers Market
Free to Attend – At the Gazebo at the Market

July 23rd – Saturday, 11 am – 1 pm
NATURE WITH ART CLASS PROGRAM with TIMEFLIESBYLAURALIE
Theme: Working with Wine Bottles! More Details Soon.
Registration Fee TBD

October  – Date to Be Announced
PUMPKIN CARVING & PUMPKIN STUFFING WITH FLOWERS AND SUCCULENTS
Stay tuned!
Registration Fee TBD

October 15, Saturday, 11 am – 12 pm
OVERWINTERING TROPICAL PLANTS
$15 pp

December 3rd, Saturday, 11 am – 2 pm
THE 7TH ANNUAL KISSING BALL & HOLIDAY CREATIONS WORKSHOP
Fresh Mixed Greenery, Wreaths, Kissing Balls, Candle Centerpieces
$38-$40 pp

December 7th, Wednesday, 5 pm – 7 pm
WEEKDAY WORKSHOP: KISSING BALL & HOLIDAY CREATIONS WORKSHOP
$38-40 pp

***

All workshops are located in Broad Brook, CT unless otherwise noted above.

*The items listed with asterisks are not workshops, but special events of interest.

And see our Side Bar menu on this blog for Garden Talks at various garden clubs in our surrounding towns too.

Thank you – Cathy Testa

Holiday Gift Cards and New Workshops

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Gift Cards and New Workshops

Hello everyone,

‘Tis the Season’ to get started for your upcoming holiday fun – So, here’s a heads-up on new items and activities I am super excited to share with you today. Container Crazy CT has new workshops being offered in 2016, gift cards available for the holidays, and more.

New Gift Cards

Container Crazy CT has new “Gift Cards” available for purchase. They are redeemable towards workshops, onsite consultations, container garden gifts, or seasonal plants. Perfect for the friends and family members in your life who enjoy DIY classes, plants, gardens, containers and art fun. The card has a beautiful holiday theme cover with a colorful container garden photo.

Greet Card Gift Card

A beautiful card with container garden photo

Returning Guest Artist

Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie is returning as a guest speaker in 2016. We had such a wonderful time learning how to make her unique and eclectic wind chimes the last time she was here and she enjoyed teaching our group. As you know, Laura Sinsigallo has many talents from paintings to cute figurines for special holidays – she is a very creative person. Her program will be in April 2016 and the special Art Work to be made in class will be announced very soon.

Laura Sinsigallo with her painting - Out guest artist in April

Laura Sinsigallo with her painting – Out guest artist in April

Floral Design – New!

Mandy Mayer of jemshorticulture.com will be our new speaker at our 2016 workshops. I am so excited to have her join our list of guest artists. She designs beautiful bouquets and floral arrangements for weddings and special events. Her business is called “JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design” located in Stafford Springs, and you won’t want to miss this workshop. We plan to have her program offered in February 2016. Stay tuned for details.

Photo by M. Mayer, Floral Designer

Photo by M. Mayer, Floral Designer located in Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

Kissing Ball Class

The first class is full, the supplies are ordered, and the workshop space is being adorned! So excited to have NEW and REPEAT attendees coming. If you were unable to sign up for this class, mini workshops are offered during the week following the first workshop date of 12/5. And don’t forget to bring your own florist wire and decor to adorn your balls, wreaths, etc. Looking forward to seeing you!

Special Orders for Wreaths or Kissing Balls

If you would like a handmade wreath or kissing ball, please don’t hesitate to ask. And don’t forget to visit my Pinboards and Instagram pages for inspirational ideas. It’s time to get your jingle on.

See you soon,

Cathy Testa
Enhance Your Outdoor Surroundings…
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Powerful Perennials in Container Gardens – An Intro to May’s Hands-On Workshop

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The Theme – Powerful Perennials

Perennials, which return year after year in your gardens (or more technically stated, are a plant that normally survives for three or more seasons), are excellent candidates in container gardens and patio pots.

However, they are often overlooked for this use and many people do not understand their amazing benefits in container gardens or know which to select to achieve stunning combinations to make your container gardens look amazing in your outdoor surroundings!

This year’s Container Garden Workshops hosted by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT in Broad Brook, CT will focus on perennials which perform beautifully in container gardens and patio pots, and how and why you should use them to your advantage.

Container Garden with Mix of Perennials and Annuals

Container Garden with Mix of Perennials and Annuals Upon Planting!

Burst of “Dynamic” Color Periods

We all love color – and know many annual plants provide constant color in your container gardens, but so do perennials. Many perennials bloom at specific times during the season so they add a dynamic element to your containers. Some are short bloomers for a period of weeks, while other are long lasting for several months – It is a matter of knowing which perform best to maximize their show in your container gardens. Think of perennials as providing a burst of color at the right times to compliment the other mix of plants in your container gardens and patio pots.

Perennial: Agastache 'Blue Fortune' blooms all summer long

Perennial: Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ blooms all summer long

For example, a blue flowering perennial, called Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, which also goes by the common name of anise hyssop, has a very long lasting soft blue flowers in summer. The blooms start in July and continue blooming all the way into September. Not only is that long-lasting, if you find the blooms look tired towards the end of the summer, you only have to snip them off from the tall stems of the plant, and guess what? Within two weeks, you will see new fresh buds forming and opening up on your plant in the container garden.

Perennials Don’t Get Exhausted

Perennials don’t peter out as quickly as annuals because most do not profusely bloom during the entire summer which takes lots of energy, and they have reserves from previous year’s growth, unlike annuals, such as a petunias. Petunias, as an example, usually look tired or worn out by the end of August. I’m not saying annuals don’t rock in container gardens because they do and they are a must have – but people often overlook the values and bonuses of using perennials in container gardens and only consider them for the gardens of the ground.

Are Stars in Containers

Some perennials are aggressive spreaders in gardens, but when used in container gardens, they turn into stars. An example is the perennial, Ajuga reptans, also by the common name of bugleweed. You may know this one too. In the spring time, this low growing, ground cover looking perennial spikes up tons of purple flowers in May; they are noticeable.  However, they also have a habit of spreading in lawns – which is a nuisance.  This perennial actually travels from one spot to the next underground – so folks who desire perfect lawns dislike this plant.

Ajuga in a small pot

Ajuga reptans in a small pot packs a lot of punch – Just Adorable!!

In a container garden, however, the spreading issue of Ajuga is eliminated and controlled.  Because it is a tenacious plant, it will return in a container garden for several years however – the problem aspect is now a solution in container gardens and patio pots; it shines during the growing season with various foliage colors and tidy habit serving as an exception filler in container gardens with other mixed arrangements.

Ajuga reptans

Image: Wikipedia/EnLorax – Ajuga in the ground – shows the blooms, which are so pretty in a container!

Ajuga reptans is just one of the many examples of perennials which can be vigorous or quick spreaders in the ground, but is not a problem in a container. The flush of purple color from its blooms is beautiful in a container especially when combined with other spring colored plants like the soft yellow of daffodils or pinks of tulips. Or it can serve as a very long lasting foliage feature in your container gardens, and this perennial doesn’t get lots of problems.

For this upcoming Container Garden Workshop in May 2015, two cultivars of Ajuga reptans: ‘Burgundy Glow’ and Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ will be available for purchase along with many other wonderful perennial plants. Both of these cultivars I have used in containers and patio pots with wonderful results.

‘Burgundy Glow’ has white, pink and purple variegation on its leaves with 6” spikes of blue flowers in May, and ‘Chocolate Chip’ has intense violet-blue spikes rising 3” above miniature, vibrant, chocolate-hued foliage in May through June. One year, I used ‘Chocolate Chip’ in a little container and it was so pretty, and this one can take shady conditions too.

Ornamental Grasses or Grass-like Perennials

You may not think of ornamental grasses or grass like perennials as container garden plants but two of these which I can name right off the bat are Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ and its counter opposite in regards to color is Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' on right

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ on right – Similar to ‘All Gold’ but All Gold  is well – all gold!

Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ is one of many hakon grasses I selected for this workshop because it has stunning gold blades of foliage that grows in graceful clumps and the color is intense and vivid. Take that intense vivid color and put it next to the right color bloom of another perennial – and voila – you have eye magic or eye candy.

Then there’s Lirope muscari ‘Big Blue’, the polar opposite in color compared to the hakon grass – it has a dark green long strap-like leaves – and it is not an ornamental grass but a perennial, so it, like ornamental grasses, it returns year after year and is tough too.

Lily turf is Lirope’s common name, and it can be used to cover lots of turf – because it does spread – so this one fits my “Troublemaker Turned Star” scenarios for container gardens. It is a strong grower which is a problem in landscape situations, but it makes a wonderful low height type thriller with 15-18” long leaves with violet flower spikes in late summer in containers and patio pots! I’ve used Lirope in containers and it comes back every single year – it’s tough! This enables me to reuse it and just add new supporting candidates with it in the pot every season.

Container Garden with Perennials: Heuchera, Hellebore, Bellis, Euphorbia.

Container Garden with Perennials: Heuchera, Hellebore, Bellis perennis, Euphorbia in early Spring!

Other Perennial Benefits

There are other wonderful benefits to using perennials in your pots – Again, they return, as mentioned above, for at least three or more years – so this saves you money; they may be transplanted into your gardens or yard after the summer season is over in the fall, so you will enjoy them for years to come; and they give a dynamic bloom period or show at specific times in your container gardens. This gives your container a living interest because suddenly, in the midst of summer, a burst of a new color opens in the blooms of a perennial in the container, or perhaps it is an early spring bloomer or late bloomer in the fall – either way, it adds a new interest for you to enjoy and view. It is the ta-da of container gardening.

Perennial Purposes

Perennials also serve lots of other wonderful purposes. They have fragrant foliage and flowers, many can be used as a cut flower for your vases, and they attract butterflies and bees – and others have medicinal purposes too.

Bee enjoys a Perennial (Turtlehead)

Bee enjoys a perennial (Turtlehead) – A late season bloomer and very showy plant in containers!

There will be varieties for sun and shade available at these two workshops in May 2015. A total of 120 perennial plants have been ordered, 6 each of 23 species. Learning their features and how to use them with other plants in the containers will be part of this workshops offerings.

Red Banana Leaves with Various Elephant Ears

Red Banana Leaves with Various Elephant Ears – The Type of Tropical Plants Available at the May Workshops!

Tropical Additions

Tropical plants with large lush foliage features will be part of the Container Garden Workshops this year as well – because they are a passion and, like perennials, they have great benefits – the ability to reuse them year after year when appropriately stored over the winter, their dramatic and showy role due to their ability to grow fast, and adaptability to warm climates, which is what we have here in CT during the summer months. Many tropical will last all the way into October with no signs of stress, giving you a real show until the first frost of fall arrives.

Containers in Sept 2015

Containers in Sept 2015 shows the thriller of Colocasias (Elephant Ears) – Available for Purchase at the Workshops!

Every year, elephant ears (Colocasia), banana plants (Ensete and Musa), and some other unique tropical plants are offered as part of this workshop. Pairing up a dark toned elephant ear, such as Colocasia ‘Maui Magic’ with a vivid bloom of a perennial has dramatic effects in containers, and in this workshop you will see how it’s done.

A total of 185 tropical plants have been ordered, 8 each of 21 species, and learning their features and how to use them with other plants in the containers will be part of this workshops offerings.

Pinboards – Perennials with Power for Container Gardens

Start visiting my pinboard titled, Perennials with Power for Container Gardens, to get a glimpse of what the featured perennials and tropical plants will be at the Container Garden Workshops scheduled on May 16th and May 23rd, 2015. I will be adding photos up until the workshop dates. This will give you an idea of what will be featured, and some are shown in container gardens and patio pots too.

Two Workshop Date Options

This year, the workshop is being offered on two dates. There are some considerations beyond your calendar’s availability on which date you may want to select. Both sessions will have the same topics and materials available.  More details of what is included in the class is listed on www.ContainerCrazyCT.com, click MAY CLASS (BIG CONTAINER GARDEN) under the Nature with Art Programs menu.

May 16, Saturday – Session No. 1:

The May 16th date is after our typical spring frost date but we won’t know until we hit April. Experts say we are “almost guaranteed” to not get frost from May 10th through September 26th, but after our winter and global changes – do we trust weather guarantees anymore?

This means if you elect to attend session no. 1 on May 16th, your containers may require protection if we get an overnight frost. Frost is not as harsh to perennials, but will affect tropicals. If you are okay with moving your pot or covering it with a light sheet if forcasters say we will get a frosting, then May 16th is for you.

May 23, Saturday – Session No. 2:

The May 23rd date will be safe – however, it is Memorial Day weekend, and schedules tend to be busy – but with that said, nothing is better than placing your newly arranged container garden out on your deck or patio just in time for the festivities.

Registration one of 3 ways:

  1. Visit the Facebook page for Container Crazy CT and click on EVENTS to join.
  2. Complete the Contact Form found at the bottom of the class pages from the top-menu bars of http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com.
  3. Email containercathy@gmail.com or call (860) 977-9473

Payment:

$15 per person + cost of plants purchased at the class. Payment of class fee of $15 is required by mail one month prior to the class date. Payment is non-refundable for any cancellations one week prior to the class date. Sales tax is applicable on all plant purchases during the class.

Send to: Cathy T’s Landscape Designs, 72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

For a PDF version of this text: Container Garden Workshops Intro 2015

Thank you,

Cathy Testa

Cathy Testa is a container garden designer in Broad Brook, CT. Her work has been featured on the television program, CT Style, and in several gardening publications. She offers classes year round where nature is combined with art and is available for container garden installations.

Succulents ContainerCrazyCT_0010For a Calendar of All Events and Workshops, click HERE.