Round Two and Three for KB!

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Beg Advance 2019

My next workshop is coming up on Saturday, December 7th, 2019 and all seats have been taken. We got our first decent snow fall yesterday and last night. In fact, my husband is out there right now plowing our driveway before heading to work.

The snow is a plus for our holiday greenery creations made in my workshops. The cold temperatures and a bit of moisture from the snow or mist falling on the kissing balls and/or wreaths prolong the life of the creations! That is the good news. But snow is somewhat of a PIA when it comes to moving in and out of the house or going back and forth to work or for holiday shopping, etc. However, the sun should (hopefully) shine during the next couple days, and it is always gorgeous out when there is full sun after a white snowy storm.

Last Saturday was quite the day. Everyone was super festive, in the spirit, and made the most gorgeous creations with fresh greens. The only down fall was I felt under the weather – darn colds, why do they exist? But this class was filled with mostly regulars and long-time attendees – so they know what to do. I am filled with warmth knowing and hearing about how attendees stepped up to help attendees who needed help. Also, my 3 Elf Helpers did so much to help and assist, I can’t thank them enough. Thanks to all.

This workshop has grown quite large and I’m getting older – it is not so easy to organize all and the timing for many aspects has to happen right before or after. People stepped up to help me when the caterer was late, the teacher (me) was a bit under the weather, and the clean-up needed to be done. Team work – so nice. Good thing I have thorough handouts to help too!

I don’t like to have anything not done well, so the patience was appreciated. The other good news, is hopefully, I’m getting better now. I did loose my voice but it sounds better this morning, and my sister, who is a singer, gave me all the tips on how to not stress the vocal cords more – like don’t whisper! So last night, I was actually “texting” my husband to save my voice to discuss upcoming items on the to-do list.

I’m making custom wreath and kissing ball orders for people this week too. That was actually very soothing for me yesterday because I didn’t focus on my little cold and took my time making some wreaths. I love the way they came out. And I always put on a holiday movie that is a bit corny but there is always a message, and good ones, so that is nice to have in the background while creating. It takes me two hours to make a wreath from start to finish with decor – and movies are usually two hours – perfect!

Now, up next, is the next Holiday Workshop on Saturday, Dec 7, and then another one on Sunday, Dec 8. Reminders to the attendees will be sent out mid-week. I’m so glad now that I did not plan a mid-week class. I needed the much needed rest! Mrs. KB Cathy Claus has been busy.

Photos will be posted later. I’m soooo excited I hired a pro photographer for last Saturday, and I sooooo can’t wait to see the photos. It will be a great way to see what I missed during the day.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Cathy T.
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473

 

How to Make Kissing Balls for the Upcoming Holidays

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Container Crazy CT offers several classes and workshops year-round where Nature with Art are combined.

There are several classes offered every season, such as the annual Container Gardening Workshop in May and a Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations Workshop in December.

And this weekend is the Storing Tropical Plants Demo where steps will be demonstrated on how to overwinter plants such as Canna, Elephant Ears, Angel’s Trumpets, and banana plants.

During the months between the spring and winter, special guests artists are invited to hold various hands-on style classes with the the mission to educate, share, and create – and most importantly, have fun with friends.

On the drop down menu under the “Nature with Art Class Programs” from the top of this blog, you will find descriptions for each workshop scheduled in 2015 and upcoming in 2016.

Starting Early – Kissing Ball Workshop Dates

We realize that many of us don’t like to start thinking about Christmas or the Holidays until at least early November, but when you have workshops to setup, some things need to be ordered in October so we are ready when December arrives to make our wonderful holiday creations. This is why places like Hobby Lobby are stuffed with Christmas crafts already, where you may find decor to add to your kissing ball or wreath at the workshop.

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KISSING BALL & HOLIDAY CREATIONS WORKSHOPS

The December upcoming hands-on workshops have been scheduled. Seats are limited for the first big workshop date of December 5th, so register early. We gather to make beautiful holiday creations with a mix of fresh evergreens and socialize. It is a fun day and a great way to make your own kissing ball just in time to place it on your porch or hang it in a hallway.

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See How It’s Done

Kissing Balls Shown on TV by Cathy T. See how they are really fun to make and require a bit of time, but they are beautiful and unique when hand-made with your special touches – and the fresh evergreens smell wonderful – not to mention, when you hang them outdoors, the birds like to perch on them – so pretty when snow is falling upon the kissing balls. You can find steps on how to make Kissing Balls on the web, or watch the video linked above, but when you gather with a group – it makes the whole process extra special because you are with a large group of enthusiastic attendees, the mechanics and amazing greens are here for you, and you learn from Cathy T and attendees with their own unique ideas, such as adding lights to the balls. If you live in East Windsor or surrounding towns in Connecticut, come on down and join us – we have attendees all the way from New Haven joining us annually.

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Open Studio Days and Mini Session

Additionally, there are other opportunities to craft away and make beautiful round kissing balls with a wide mix of evergreens to adorn your home indoors and out. An Open Studio week is offered where you may schedule your own appointment to make an evergreen creation at a time convenient for you. Lastly, we have a Mini Session on December 12th. We also make square or round wreaths, candle centerpieces, and mail box swags at these workshops – you pick the one you want to make.

How to Register

All you need to do is fill out the Contact Form. Cost is $30-$45 (+ sales tax) based on item you select to make, and pre-payment is required. Once you sign-up here, you will receive the 2015 price list and details with instructions. Location of the workshops is East Windsor, Connecticut.

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CALENDAR OF WORKSHOPS

For a handy view by month, click on the CALENDAR menu.

An Attendee Listens to Cathy T's Instructions at the KB Workshop

An Attendee Listens to Cathy T’s Instructions at the KB Workshop

ARTISTS ARE INVITED TO TEACH

Artists are invited to teach and a page shows the Featured Artists for the upcoming season. If you are an artist utilizing any aspect of plants, nature, or the environment in your designs and would like to introduce your product along with DIY instructions for Container Crazy CT’s attendees, please contact her at 860-977-9473 or containercathy@gmail.com to arrange a date and discuss your ideas.  All classes are taught by professionals and artisans with years of experience to share with the interested attendees.

We hope you will join us.

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

Overwintering Red Banana Plants – Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

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Hello Visitors,

Every year, several tropical plants from my container gardens and patio pots are overwintered. In this post, you will see how I helped a client, Laurie, who attended my May container garden workshops, dismantle her pots in September. She did an amazing job with watering and care all summer. Her plants grew very large and were extremely healthy, and now she knows how to store the root bases to attempt regrowing them next season. By the way, she wanted to dismantle her pots early because she was ready for the fall season and putting out mums on her deck. This process can be done much later however (end of October or early November) depending on how you wish to overwinter the plant.

A Client's Container Garden with Red Banana plant as a thriller

A Client’s Container Garden with Red Banana plant as a thriller

As you can see, her red banana plant in this pot grew quite large. It started as a small plant in May. This is a plant for planting zones 9-10 so it is not hardy in Connecticut but it is a great specimen to grow in pots – it grows large fast and the root base can be stored over the winter.

Take note the other plant on its left side is an Asclepias (Butterfly Weed) and during the summer it bloomed orange red flowers next to the rich red coloring of the big banana plant. The height of the butterfly weed worked well next to this very big red banana plant.

By this time in September, the Asclepias formed seed pods. The blooms on this plant are a major source of food for Monarchs.

Cathy T uses a bow saw to say "Timber!"

Cathy T uses a bow saw to say “Timber!”

You will see how I used a bow saw to cut off the top of the plant. It’s pretty straight forward, make a clean cut, do it about 15″ from the base, and let it fall. The hard part is making the cut because the plant is so beautiful. A bow saw works terrific for this – it slices thru just like you would a giant stalk of celery which is how this plant grows, pushing through new shoots/stalks of leaves from its center. Don’t cut it down too low – this can damage that growing center. Some people will make the cut even higher, more on that in the Oct 17th demo (see info below).

Top Removed

Top Removed

Even though I am smiling for the photo, my client was not. She cringed. I asked if she was okay and she said it is so hard to see it taken down. I don’t blame her. She did a great job of watering and watching her plants.

Red banana root base

Red banana root base

Can you guess what this is? It is the root base of the red banana plant. It was a bit of a job to get it out of the soil but after we did, we put it upside down to allow excess water to drain from it. The water collects in the center, and this root base is quite fleshy too. You want to air dry it a bit (few hours or 1/2 a day) to get a lot of this moisture drained out – but you do not want it bone dry either. Then it gets stored in peat in a box. More on that to be shown later.

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Laying down a tarp or old blanket is a good idea when you do your work of dismantling your container gardens because there will be a lot of foliage to take away to your compost bin.

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet)

Next was the Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) which is another beautiful, fast growing, showy tropical plant with 6-10″ gorgeous trumpet shaped flowers, also hardy to zones 9-11. It must be dealt with “before frost” in the fall. However, as noted above, the red banana plant may be left out until frost hits it if you store it as shown above.

Brugmansia with Coleus

Brugmansia with Coleus

This picture doesn’t do it justice. For a first time container gardener, my client did an amazing job with this plant too. She and her husband enjoyed the highly scented pink trumpet shaped flowers in the evening. You have a few choices with this plant in regards to overwintering it in Connecticut. You may take it inside (if you have space) and treat it as a houseplant. Or you may store it in your unheated basement that remains cold but not below freezing. It will drop leaves and look unsightly, but rest assured, when you take it back out next season, it will boom again. You may also cut back this plant hard too if you wish to reduce it in size for space considerations. However, if you leave it tall, you have the added bonus of it being much taller next season. We decided to cut Laurie’s back a bit.

Brugmansia trimmed back with loppers

Brugmansia trimmed back with loppers

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) is a plant which can grow to the size of a small tree in the right conditions in the ground. It will bloom all the way into November if you wish to keep it going. It will grow a bit smaller in containers, or a big bigger in really big pots. It’s a keeper on my plant list.

Canna on deck

Canna on deck

Next was the beautiful pot of two Canna plants on her mini deck. Her husband graciously carried the pot to a better working location for us after we cut back all the stalks. Again, Laurie whimpered as we did so. The next photo shows what the pot looked like after all was cut off.

Canna with tops off

Canna with tops off

Her blooms were rising so high which is something Laurie commented about as we worked. She was impressed, and did see hummingbirds visiting the blooms this summer. And again, the plants were stunning. It was sad to see them go but the plus side is after storing the rhizomes, they will be ready to be regrown next season.

Rhizomes removed from Canna pot

Rhizomes removed from Canna pot

Here’s a test for you? How many rhizomes do you see above?

I count 17 at least – this means she now has 17 new plants from one potting!

Private Sessions

It took some time to dismantle three large container gardens but we enjoyed every minute. This service of showing you how the process is done and working with you is available up until our frost date, so if you wish to hire me for a private take down session, send me an email soon at containercathy@gmail.com or fill out the contact form below (private sessions are $25 and held at your home).

Castor Bean at End of My Driveway

Castor Bean at End of My Driveway

To close today’s post on overwintering plants from container gardens and patio pots, I’m sharing a photo of my castor bean plant at the end of my driveway (noted in yesterday’s post). It is Giant Zanzibariensis and provides quite a show – it grew to a monster size. The seeds are collected as a way to regrow it next season. More on that later.

And lastly, I wanted to share a photo of my Crocosmia since I referenced it yesterday and planted it into the ground this week from my blue pot. The best thing about this plant is how the hummingbirds visited it often. They loved the red blooms and would chirp away. It was replanted in a very large container which is almost the size of a smaller garden bed for next year’s enjoyment – so this year on the deck, next year in the garden – recycling the good way.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

Overwintering Demo

On October 17th, Saturday at 10:30 am, the overwintering process will be demonstrated. If interested in attending, see the links on this blog under the “Nature with Art Programs.”

Workshops and Classes

Every season, Container Crazy CT offers workshops and classes. Some are plant related, some are arts related. This spring, we had a wonderful windchime making class. This May was repeated Container Garden Workshops. And every winter is the annual Holiday Kissing Ball and Evergreen Creations workshop where you may learn how to make them with fresh evergreens! Don’t miss out – we are always adding programs.

Red banana plant in my backyard

Red banana plant in my backyard

Cathy Testa
http://www.containercrazyct.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

About this blog:

Container Crazy CT is about sharing the passion of growing plants in container gardens and about combining nature with art. Cathy Testa offers classes and workshops and regularly shares information about growing plants in pots. She is located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT. To learn more, click the tabs on the top of this blog site. Cathy Testa also speaks at garden clubs, women’s groups, farmers markets, and special events. See Garden Talks above if interested in having her speak to your group.