Cathy T’s Container Gardening Services – What I Do for You

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Good morning everyone,

It always surprises me when someone isn’t aware of what I offer as part of my small business called, “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs”, and under the umbrella of, “Container Crazy CT.”

This situation just happened the other day. I was chatting with someone I’ve known for several years, and she asked if I was into banana plants?

This question was a surprise to hear because I’ve blogged about them, sold them, and especially like tropical plants.

Before I could answer, she started to tell me how she was growing some in her home for a garden club event.

As soon as I started to tell her about the big red banana plant I grew in a large planter a couple years back, she paused to listen.

This discussion reminded me of how I once told a garden center owner that many of my friends were not aware their store existed. He kind of listened but I don’t think he believe me – because they are well established.

Funny how that happens.

So, today I’m sharing what I shared at my last garden talk – some quick highlights of what I do. Hopefully you will join me this season for any of the following:

Cathy Testa

Cathy Testa

First – A little bit about my style. I tend to like showy foliage plants, and big tropical plants because they are exciting and grow fast in container gardens. I enjoy storing tropical plants over the winter months so they may be reused each season as well, so as part of my classes and talks, I often share how to do so – store tender plants.

Taking Down a P

Taking Down a big Red Banana Plant – All Steps are On my Blog!!

Storing tender plants (or tropical plants) is something I enjoy. On my blog — this blog, you will find prior posts which show how I do this – The photo above, from a prior blog post, shows me holding a 7 foot long leaf of a red banana plant (Ensete) and the trunk after it was chopped down following an October frost two years ago. It was amazing how this plant grew that particular year in a very large cement planter.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (1)

As you can see, in these two photos above – the red banana plant grew to about 12′ – 14′ feet tall! I was so in love with how lush and tropical it looked, I kept taking photos of it. So, my style is kind of like that above; I like to create outdoor oasis like places in my surroundings, where you escape to a feeling of the tropics. And I tend to enjoy using unusual plants, like cool looking edibles in container gardens. I spoke about edibles quite a bit last season at garden clubs and farmers markets.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (3)Container gardening or arranging plants in patio pots is my favorite thing to do and offer as part of my services offerings. I’m a small business located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT.

Barrels in-front of Joe's Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

Barrels in-front of Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

Store front seasonal container arrangements, such as various plants in spring, summer, and fall – and then changing them out for winter displays with fresh evergreens, and even fun off-season decor for the holidays is what I offer to local store front type businesses. This dresses up the store front, welcomes customers, and even encourages friendly communications with your visiting clients. For referrals or more information about the container garden installations, feel free to contact me or complete the Contact Form at the bottom of this blog post. Or click on Testimonials above on this blog’s menu bar.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (4)

I also offer container garden installations at homes. And for special outdoor events, such as weddings, graduations, or any type of special celebrations at your home. The container gardens filled with lush plants are available for purchase or rent. To read about my Container Garden Services, click HERE.

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Consider this alternative of enhancing your outdoor space with container gardens filled with beautiful plants the next time you are throwing a special party or event. After all, container gardens are enjoyed for months to follow in season, and are long-lasting compared to other outdoor decor which is there just for the day – and never to be seen again. Containers make wonderful gifts and decor for events. For more information, contact me or fill out the Contact Form at the bottom of this blog. It is important to plan early and in advance for special events.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (5)

Fun gatherings where attendees learn hands-on is another service offering by my business. It started with offering classes in the winter months, and transitioned to workshops on container gardening and other classes related to combining Nature with Art. Last fall, we had a special guest speaker come in to teach us how to make hypertufa pots, and this spring, we will be making eclectic windchimes. The topics vary but they all focus on combining nature with art. The 2015 class schedule is posted above – via the menu bars – on this blog. Click on CALENDAR to see the upcoming events by month.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (7)

First on the 2015 list is an April class on making eclectic windchimes. And every May, a Container Garden Workshop is offered. This year’s theme is, “Powerful Perennials in Container Gardens.” To see the complete class listings, please click on the menu bars of this blog and look over the drop down menus by month. Sign up is via the contact forms on the blog pages.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (6)

The workshops are held in Broad Brook, CT. They are convenient, educational, and a great way to network with other gardening friends. But most of all, they are fun! Last year, we held two sessions on Miniature Gardens with special guest speaker, Rondi Niles of Gardening Inspirations – it was held twice because everyone enjoyed them. This year, the Container Garden Workshops will be held twice as well. I hope you will join us and share the events with your gardening friends.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (8)

In the warm season months, classes are held outdoors. During the winter, inside a classroom. Every December, I offer a class on working with evergreen plants to create amazing holiday decor, such as evergreen kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces. It fills up fast and is an event everyone enjoys as well – organizing groups is one of my passions – and is a great way to network and meet new gardening friends, or those who enjoy creating and making items for their home’s outdoor surroundings.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (9)

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (10)

And last year, a new activity was added to the Cathy T’s offerings – Walk and Talk Home Gardens tours – Very informal, fun, and the hosts are homeowners willing to share what they have done in their gardens – with the rule that there “are no rules!” It can be informal, messy, or amazing – it is a way to share and learn from each other. Last year, we toured a pond garden in Enfield, an urban veggie garden in Wethersfield, and a sunny hillside garden in East Granby.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (11)

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (12)The Walk and Talk Home Garden Tours for 2015 are underway. We have two lined up so far for 2015. Again, see the menu bar with drop down menus of all the activity. If you are interested in sharing your home garden, please reach out – it is a great way to exchange gardening tips, meet new gardening friends, and share what you know, how you have created a garden in your special spaces, and it doesn’t matter if your garden is big or small, perfect or imperfect – we want to hear from you! To contact me about a tour, e-mail containercathy@gmail.com or fill out the Contact Form at the end of this post.

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So there you have it – in a nutshell: Container Garden installs for homes, businesses, and special events. Lots of nature and plant related classes which are all DIY and include taking home your creation – and educational! And Garden Talks at Garden Clubs, appearances at farmers markets (Ellington and East Windsor again in 2015), Garden Tours at People’s Homes, and more.

My business is based on 8+ years of growing from my inspiration and passion of plants and container gardens, experimentation which lead to knowledge and taking courses over the years, and knowing the right way to care for plants in container gardens and patio pots, circling back to more experience. It starts with having a passion and inspiration! Let’s meet to share the passion together.

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

To learn more about Cathy Testa, see her BIO.

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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.

Hot Day, Sweating, Tired – But Still Smiling

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Cathy Testa on a Hot Summer Day; Photo by DebutCinematic

Cathy Testa on a Hot Summer Day; Photo by DebutCinematic

This photo of me was taken on one of the hottest summer mornings this year.

Karen of Debut Cinematic Life Style Photography arrived very early, but even so, it was already hot and humid as the sun was rising that day.

We had no choice but to pick this day because my schedule was packed and Karen’s was too – plus, she was about to move to another state the very next day!

When I showed the photos to Steve, my husband, he asked, “Why do you look so tired in this photo?”

I guess this is true, and I had to laugh when he made that comment.  And although I do look a little tired, I still love this photo – the reason for looking tired was the combination of the heat and the fact my schedule keeps moving in the hort world.  It’s all good, but sometimes keeping up leads to some wear and tear on the face and body.

My planting season was filled with activity – from holding garden talks in early May through the end of this season, and continuing into February of 2015.

It was also the year when the first “Big Container Garden Party Class” was held at Cathy T’s location in Broad Brook, CT.

And, I also invited special guest speakers to hold classes, such as Rhonda Niles of Gardening Inspirations, and Jim for the upcoming class by Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa on October 4th.  Reminders for this class have been emailed to attendees – don’t forget you need to get a small plastic pot for this class, but there’s still plenty of time for that.

In addition, we kicked off the first year of the Garden Walk and Talk Events at hosts’ homes – Thank you again, Louise for your Urban Veggie Garden tour, and Rhonda for your Pondering Ponds, and Lisa for the Sunny Hill Side Garden.  More tours are already on the schedule for 2015.

Finally, the big cap off of the summer was the designing and installing of container gardens for a very special outdoor wedding event.  A total of fifteen pots were assembled, delivered, positioned, and featured for the day. Phew – I get tired just thinking about how much running around I did – but I smiled throughout it all – yes, every minute – because it is my passion.

In the background of the above photo, you see some of the container gardens created and maintained for the wedding event.  The plants were in the beginning stages of growth and had a way to go when this photo was taken.  To see more of the container gardens created, check back in here again on this blog.

A Hypertufa Round Pot with Hens and Chicks

A Hypertufa Round Pot with Hens and Chicks

In the meantime, next on the agenda is the Hypertufa Making Class on Saturday, October 4th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.  The class is already full but we have a waiting list, if interested.  Jim of Ancient Hypertufa Gardens is an expert at making these earthy pots.  I’m thrilled he will be our next guest speaker as part of the Container Crazy Cathy T Class Series.

Blue was the Theme this Season

Blue was the Theme this Season

I’m not exactly sure how this happens – but every year, a theme seems to naturally evolve – and this year, it was all about blues.  Here you see another photo Karen of Debut Cinematic took for me.  The blue cloth is from Rockland, Maine – a wrap I purchased and adore.  I added it to the table to dress up the scene before her photo shoot.

The blue hand-blown wine glasses are from a place in Vermont.  They are so beautiful, I treated myself to a pair – and added them to the table too.

Also displayed is the miniature garden, which I created during Gardening Inspirations’ class on Miniature Dreamscapes by Rhonda Niles, held here in the early summer. And lastly, I recycled a baby chicken feeder to hold some Hens and Chickens plants.  Why? Just because it was fun.

The color blue also appeared on my list by way of the wedding client.  The bride specifically requested cobalt blue in her container gardens, preferably in the flowers, along with whites and lime greens.  How was this achieved, well – more will be posted on that later.

Time to hit the road to my new TRX exercise class – which was also a new item on my 2014 agenda – and this core building class has helped me get stronger, making the constant lifting and bending to work on containers and pots for my projects a bit easier.

Oh also – coming up, an Advance Master Gardening class.  To see more, check out the Cathy T Classes menu above, click to locate drop-down menus with all the details.

Cathy Testa

Hypertufa Class Being Offered in October in Broad Brook, CT

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Could this season get any better?

Cathy T has just lined up a special guest speaker to teach a Hypertufa making class in October.

See Cathy T’s Class Schedule to learn more.  Click on the drop-down menu selection titled, October (Concrete Art).

The date:  October 4th, 2014 – Saturday

The time:  11:00 am to 1 or 2 pm, depending on how much fun you are having

The teacher:  An expert hypertufa making artist by the name of Jim of Ancient Gardens Hypertufa.  He has exhibited at the Boston Flower Show, Newport Flower Show, and Celebrate West Hartford.  To see his works, visit http://www.formedforyou.com.

In this class – you will be making your own small to medium sized round or square hypertufa. More details will be posted very soon.

Not sure what a hypertufa is?  See Cathy T’s description on her Class Schedule above.

For inspiration, visit Cathy T’s Pinboard:

Sign up early – You don’t want to miss this chance, as our special guest artist rarely agrees to teaching classes, but guess what? – he did for Cathy T.  This is a special treat.

To Sign Up for the October Class:

To sign up – complete the Contact Form from the Cathy T Class Schedule above.

Or join the class via the Facebook Event.

This Weekend’s Pondering Ponds:

And don’t forget – this weekend is another opportunity – to see a homeowner’s pond garden in Enfield, CT.  We have a small group forming, a professional photographer joining us, and it is predicted to be another gorgeous weekend – the stars have aligned.

Pondering Ponds ContainerCrazyCT_0001

The Pondering Pond’s Walk and Talk is this Saturday, July 19th, 2014 at 10-11 am.

For the address to join us, contact Cathy T at containercathy@gmail.com or text 860-977-9473.

Thank you,

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