CT Flower and Garden Show – Spoiler Alert


Good Morning Everyone,

I’m sharing some of my iPhone quick pics from yesterday’s visit to the CT Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, CT.

But fair warning – If you are the type that doesn’t want to see anything revealed before you attend, this is your spoiler alert!

What I found that was different this year:

  • Some “new” booths/vendors – New faces, antiques, roses, coir, etc. It was nice to see new vendors and visit with them. Especially friendly was Helen at Yoga Unfettered (she may do a workshop for me this year), Valerie at Garden Guardians (amazing head face pots – love them and was very tempted to buy another as I have purchased her pots before), Sam at FibreDust showing coir as a potting soil (I will be showcasing this product at my workshops and discussing them at my garden talks.)
  • Enhanced food court sitting area – Nicely organized with a long bar area, couches, more tables for sitting and relaxing (located by the landscape display areas). It is larger this year, well situated, and relaxing between walking the show floor. Just be careful, if you sit on one of the cozy couches, you may not want to get back up.
  • Rearranged vendor spots– While its helpful to be able to locate your favorite vendors in their usual locations on the show floor, there were some vendors located in new spots which made it feel changed up a bit to me. I liked that.

Show Location:

Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Boulevard
Hartford, CT 06103

phone: 860-249-6000
fax: 860-249-6161

Show Hours:

Runs thru Sunday, Feb 21st. Opens at 10 am each day. Tip: Go early, parking in the garage tends to fill up quickly.

Photo Highlights:

In the back row area – Always enjoy the display by Snug Habor – lots of small hand-made hypertufa pots – adorable, small and unique items.

Plant sales by University of CT (left). If you didn’t know, they sell plants from their greenhouses on North Eagleville Road in Storrs by the campus. The photos on the right are from an area at the show on the back right beyond the landscape displays. They have tons of flowering plants and all in full color right now – I believe this is a group of growers that put these out for sale. All healthy.

Floral Design Workshop_0035

If you like staghorn ferns – wow – look at this show stopper – was in the back area by Snug Harbor’s booth. Beautiful and tempting.

Over in the far left area is the floral and plant competition space. Look at these amazing cacti and the shoe! There were pieces of significance and really enjoyed browsing this area. Be sure to check out the jewelry pieces made with seeds, plant parts, and earthy finds.

Floral Design Workshop_0018

Because of my passion for patio pots and container gardens, I especially enjoyed this piece of art – LOVE how the creator inserted a small pot of a dripping down spiller style plant.

Floral Design Workshop_0034

In fact I spotted this plant in the back area in hanging baskets – what are they called again? I’m having a blank moment, but they are adorable, beaded like plants and fun to use in container gardens – as noted above.

Globes, globes, globes are everywhere. Almost every plant related booth had some. They are hot – hot – hot this year and the admiration of these seems to be growing every year. These above are from Natureworks (middle photo) with the adorable bird’s nest with eggs, and Balleck’s on the left and right. We especially liked the thick glass container (left photo) from Balleck’s – a little different, thicker, heavier.

If you are looking for color – it is not in short supply at the flower show. Art and beautiful plants show them off – just look at this moss basket by Balleck’s – Wow, I “almost” purchased that one – it is popping with oranges and yellows.

And I probably shouldn’t have – but I got some of these yummy cookies by Savor. The ladies standing next to me purchasing some told me they enjoy these cookies and return every year to buy some more. They are a small sized cookie which justifies the guilt of eating the extra calories.

And that is all I will post today – as I don’t want to spoil it for you. You should head there today or this weekend. We are lucky this year – no snow to deal with and the sun is shining today. Go check it out – you will enjoy the show.

Cathy Testa

P.S. Lots more photos on my Instagram feed.

5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get Ready for Spring!


#1 Go to the Flower and Garden Show this week in Hartford, CT

Go to the flower and garden show in Hartford, CT being held this week starting Thursday, Feb. 20th. Just walking into the building will get your senses thinking about spring and less about snow as you see, hear, smell, and experience the plants and plant offerings by the many exhibitors.  I plan to go – probably on Friday.  Got the day off?  Want to join me, just email me at containercathy@gmail.com.  There is parking adjacent to the convention center.  After parking, find your way through the parking garage to the main entrance and take the escalators up to the show floor. Don’t forget to visit the seminar speakers on the floor above the show floor too.  Food and wine is available at the show each year, and check in with your local nurseries before you go for tickets – they often offer discounted tickets by a couple bucks.  If you can’t make it during a week day, no worries – it runs through the weekend, and the weather is looking warmer by Friday.

#2 Visit Cathy T’s new Pinboards on Succulents and Tropicals

Why?  Because in May, Cathy T is offering a fun class on how to make container gardens with succulents, and will be having a Tropical Talk too.  To get inspired about this first annual BIG CONTAINER GARDEN PARTY to be held on Broad Brook, CT, visit her new pinboards right now, note the date on your calendar, and register today.  These pinboards will get you at least thinking about upcoming fun of creating beautiful containers for your outdoor spaces in the spring and summer. The possibilities are endless in the style and ways you can mix up plants for the season.

To learn more details about this class, see the pages listed under Cathy T’s Classes or under Container Gardens on the menu of this blog.  Share the information too with any local friends interested.

#3 Scout Containers for the Upcoming Season

Now could be a very good time indeed to think about containers or patio pots for not, only Cathy T’s BIG CONTAINER GARDEN PARTY (class) in May, but in general for your container gardening coming up in a matter of a month of so!  We may have snow right now, but it will begin to melt as soon as temps warm up – so why not rummage your own stock of goodies, or start looking for unique containers at the flower show this weekend?? – and of course, the tag sales that kick off in the spring. It is when you least expect it that you find a vintage item, a repurposed pot, or something sitting in your garage or basement right now that can be a container in spring and summer – old fancy shoes or pumps – heck, before tossing them, think – could this be a great container for succulents at Cathy T’s class?  I think yes!

#4 Think about Attending Other Garden Related Conferences

Did you know there is a great ELA conference next week in downtown Springfield, MA for plant enthusiasts and ground huggers?  Well, I say ground huggers in a very loving way – the focus at this conference is usually on natural horticultural practices and sustainability.  Is there any other kind?!!   The speakers at this conference are highly educated and the attendees inspiring for many are hort people in the business, but this doesn’t mean an avid gardener expanding their knowledge base and horizons can not attend too. If interested, visit their website for all the details. There is parking near the conference location, and places in downtown to eat if you want to adventure beyond the cafe onsite at this conference.  Do something different, and give this conference a try, or don’t forget other flower shows going on, such as the Rhode Island show (held same time as Hartford’s) or Boston show in March or UCONN’s Garden Conference in Storrs, CT.  You will be amazed how inspiring it can feel to attend a conference you haven’t tried before – you may not know what’s out there – but if you go – it surely makes you more ready for spring!  And many are in locations where you can adventure into the city and enjoy other places of interest if you make a weekend out of it, or stay overnight.

#5 Start some Seeds indoors, or Force some Pretty Bulbs:

Herb Seeds (Photo by Cathy Testa)

Herb Seeds (Photo by Cathy Testa)

It may feel too early to start seeds, but heck if you pot up a few herb seeds in your home or grow an Amaryllis bulb, like I did recently inside the home – you start to feel inspired for the growing days of spring ahead when you see the bulb’s flowers open, or see the seeds popping up in the soil.  So go to your local supply shop, get some seed starting potting mix and a couple packets of seeds, put them in some pots, place by a sunny window sill, and watch it grow.

Photo by Cathy Testa, Panical Hydrangea Covered in Snow

Photo by Cathy Testa, Hydrangea Covered in Snow

Or if that doesn’t suit your fancy, get bundled up, walk your property and take some photos of plants in the snow covered with icicles, fluffy snow, and enjoy the shadows against the snow cast by branches.  This cheers me up and hopefully will do so for you.  By the way, if any of your shrubs are toppling over due to the weight of sticky snow, it is a good idea to gently shake the excess snow off the branches so they don’t break or bend too harshly.

Happy Monday Everyone,

Cathy Testa

32nd Annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show

'Kwanzan' Cherry tree bloom at the flower show

‘Kwanzan’ Cherry tree bloom at the flower show

The CT Flower and Garden Show is underway at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford this weekend.  It opened on Thursday, February 21 and continues through Sunday, February 24, 2013.

I attended yesterday with three friends, and we bought more garden goodies than we could have imagined.  One friend bought 60 lily bulbs because she had success with them every year in her gardens, so she returns to the same woman from Maplecrest Lilies (booth 427) at the show to purchase batches for her friends and family.

This year’s theme is “Love in Bloom” and there were blooms a plenty.  You can expect to see everything from landscape displays, florist competitions, garden supplies and tools, greenhouses, solar panels, sun rooms, ponds, clothing, furniture, photography, scarfs, and even some things I felt were a little out of place, such as beds – as in ‘sleeping’ beds, not garden beds.  Who knows on that one, perhaps if they lined them with floral bed sheets or those made from bamboo, it may have made a little more sense, but all the same, it is fun.  I would have liked to rest on the bed when my feet got tired!

I took a photo of a ‘Kwanzan’ Cherry tree in bloom at one of the landscape displays. Nothing welcomes spring more than spring blooming trees, and this one surely creates a seasonal accent in your yard.  It has outstanding features, such as puffy pink flowers, bronzy leaves that turn an orange-bronze color in fall, and shiny, smooth bark offering some winter appeal.  Plant one in a full sun location with moist, well-drained soil and protect it from harsh winds.  It is a great specimen or patio tree.  Or come enjoy its beauty at the show.  One of the great benefits of attending the show is seeing many trees, shrubs, and perennials in the landscape displays so you get a feel of how they look before you give them a try in your landscape, plus you can ask plant questions at the show.

Terra Cotta Pots, Glass and Wire Vases by Puddingstone Farm

Medieval Watering Pot at the show

Medieval Watering Pot at the show

I almost purchased one of these medieval watering pots for $15.  They were something I found neat – but then I thought, “Don’t be silly – you have way too many container gardens to use this.”  But at the same time, it is an artistic piece and I love the natural clay used by the maker.

This artist also had tiny wired bottles used to create miniature bouquets with “snippets of fresh flowers.”  This vendor’s clean labels, clear and simple packaging, and tiny unique works of art, were sweet and well-made.  As tiny as they were, each was perfect and professional looking.

All of us bought a few of the miniature vases, and I already put mine on the windowsill.

The terra-cotta pots and bird houses were natural looking, so I also purchased a birdhouse made of terra-cotta.  It will be used very soon by a lucky bird this spring.

Puddingstone Farms by Cleave Hayes/Josie Fowler are located at booth 1050 at the show.

Shoes are popular this season

We saw shoes of all styles at the show used as plant pots, and they were cute, but one note of caution, check if they have drain holes.  When I was checking out this silvery bling pair, I said out loud, “But they don’t have a drain hole,” and then a woman next to me said, “Yah, but it is filled with succulents and they don’t require lots of water.”

Well, have to just say here, this doesn’t matter.  Without a drain hole, these have the potential to rot over time, and if you look closely, there is also moss on the top of the soil, which will stay wet. I love these shoes, but a power drill would have easily solved the problem, just saying.  Check for the drain holes and encourage the maker to create them going forward as they make more – because they are cute and fun.

Silver Shoes with Succulents

Silver Shoes with Succulents

And although there are hundreds of great gardening finds at the flower show, I don’t want to list them all here and give away the surprises you can enjoy, but I also wanted to mention the works created by Shauna Shane of Fenton River, located in Storrs, CT.  She had the cutest fairy dolls, and works made with clay that were so natural.  Her leaf prints were earthy and she had sculptures with succulent dresses.  Her fine art and whimsy are available to enjoy and purchase at the show.  And she offers classes, demonstrations, and workshops at her business location in Storrs.  Her website is noted as http://www.shaunashane.com but I couldn’t get the link to work this morning, so to reach her, try 860-429-3646 or fentonriver@yahoo.com

A Fairy Doll by Shauna Shane, Artist

A Fairy Doll by Shauna Shane, Artist

So get out there – take a drive to downtown Hartford, CT to see the show.  The weather will be fine most of today, so you don’t have to worry about poor driving conditions until later this evening.

Some Tips:

Discounted Tickets:  Check with your local nursery, some are selling discounted tickets ($2 off the regular admission price.)

Bring a Bag:  Bring a light weight bag or two to put your literature and garden goodies into as you walk around.

Light clothing, good shoes:  The floors are cement so wear good walking shoes, and wear something that you can feel comfortable in for little temp changes.  Sometimes it feels cool, other times a little warmer as the temperature in the building seems to change from time to time.

Lunch and Beverages:  There is wine sold at the show, but we decided to have appetizers after in a downtown restaurant.  The croissant sandwiches are very good at the show’s cafe.

Camera:  It can be difficult to get good photos at flower shows due to lighting and shadows, but bring your camera or smart phone along to take shots, and try to take a photo of the vendor’s sign or business cards, so later, you will remember who you bought what from.

Hand stamp:  If you leave the main show floor, get your hand stamped so you can return back in, and don’t overlook the speakers on the upper floors, included in the entrance price.

Parking:  Remember where you parked your car in the garage, it is kind of like a maze getting around the garage.

Passport:  Visit the CT Garden & Landscape Trail booth, get a pamphlet called a “Passport” and take it with you this season as you visit all the CT Garden Destinations.  The garden facilities participating will apply a sticker to their listing in the “Passport” as you visit them, and you can send the completed Passport in by the end of 2013 to be entered in a drawing to win at $10,000 landscape installation.  The winner will be drawn at the CT Flower & Garden Show next year, on February 23, 2014.  (Cool, another reason to return next winter.)

Show’s website and telephone no.:  www.ctflowershow.com, 860-844-8461

Show’s Hours: Saturday: 10 am to 8 pm / Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm – This weekend.

Thanks for visiting,

Container Crazy Cathy T