Heat and Humidity Great for Tropicals, but Not So Good for Tomatoes!

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Tropical Cont Gardens Cathy T_0003

This is a big pot at the front of my home exploding right now with tall Canna lilies.

Who doesn’t like Canna lily plants, right?

They are easy to grow, get big and lush, and may be overwintered by storing their rhizomes (tubers), which must be dug up after the tops of the plants are blacked by frost – or just before frost.

Growing them in big pots makes it easier to pull them out by October, thus, why I am going to show the process in early September so you may learn it if desired. (See dates below on that if interested.)

They also thrive in the heat, humidity, and rain, which we are getting all week. None of these weather conditions are harming their attitudes at all – they love it.

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My tomato plants, however, are a different story right now.

They started off great, but a fat chipmunk has damaged some of the lower specimens, and well, that is the ugly side of gardening.

To see a tomato half eaten on the ground is discouraging, but it forces us to shrug our shoulders, cry, or become determined to try a new technique to combat the critters. Because in the end, it is worth it to bite into a fresh, juicy, flavorful home grown tomato.

On top of the chipmunk problem – the foliage on my tomato plants started to look bad just recently. I should share a photo here, but why depress myself more?

I think it is Septoria leaf spot. The leaves developed small, dark spots and it started from the bottom parts, and eventually got on many of the leaves throughout the plant.

This type of problem, the leaf spots, occurs more commonly, from what I’ve read, during heat and humidity, and lack of air circulation contributes to the issue as well.

Yesterday, I took pruners out and cut all the damaged foliage off. It took some time, but I just couldn’t stand looking at the terrible foliage.

Fortunately, it does not affect the tomato fruit. Thank God!

Next year will be a new strategy. That is the name of the game, keep trying, don’t give up.

Mikado Tomato Plants

By the way, in the photo above, that is a Mikado tomato. It is an heirloom and I grew plants from seed in April.

I transplanted them into 15-gallon fabric grow bags around Memorial day (which was the first time trying grow bags – more on that later).

They mature by August – as in now, and are indeterminate (keeps growing taller).

I should have given the plants more air circulation by spacing them out more – next season, they will be put in different places too.

Yesterday, I took that photo (above) of one Mikado tomato that is nearly perfect.

Then, I begged the gardening Gods to not allow it to get attacked by a critter, crack, or whatever. I’m scared to go look this am – as I decided to not quite pick it yet. Being hopeful.

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Of course, tomatoes like sun, warmth, and as much good air flow as can be provided. I think I did well with the sun, warmth, but my mistake was not spacing them out enough. They grew very large and needed more space – so lesson learned.

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Yesterday, while out pruning the nasty damaged foliage from the leaf spot (noted above), I spotted this cluster of tomatoes on another plant, called Stone Ridge (Solanum lycopersicum).

Stone Ridge Tomato Plants

As stated on the seed packet, they are dense, bottom heavy, and have sweet fruit – so true based on my experience so far.

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What I found with this type is the cracking seemed to happen more on the tops (like they are that heavy and dense enough to weigh them down) but no matter, they are freaking delicious – and they are SWEET tasting.

The Stone Ridge tomato plants have weird various shapes to their fruit.

Some are pear-like (above) and some are just goofy and flatter or fatter. I like viewing the stages of them. When you touch them or hold them, they are heavy.

They must be started earlier from seed, which I did in late March.

As far as the tomato plants go, the Fox Cherry Tomato is my absolute favorite. And apparently is for my fat chipmunk freeloader too.

Fox Cherry Tomato Plants

The shape and size are just perfect for skewers, or cutting in half, because they are more like two bite-sized than one-bite sized. They are plump and perfect. And the plants are vigorous growers. Staking, twining, and supports are needed but worth it.

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Every day, I go out and grab many and put them in little farmers market baskets (used for raspberries or strawberries which I saved) and set them on the kitchen island.

And every morning, my husband takes a bag full to eat as snacks at work. That is the most rewarding part of it – how much he loves them.

Usually the heat and humidity is good for tomato plants, but it can help to introduce some problems, such as leaf blights, like the Septoria leaf spot, I believe was the problem on mine this month.

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I won’t let it stop me though – just keep improving the process next year.

In the photo above, there is the Bumble Bee Mix cherry tomato next to the Fox cherry tomato, to compare.

Bumble Bee Mix Cherry Tomato Plants

These are fun to grow as well. The have a unique striped patterns, are mild sweet, and smaller than the Fox variety.

They turn various colors,  either yellow, purple, or just mixed. Sometimes it is hard to know if they are ready, but I still love them.

Both the Fox and Bumble Bee will be on my growing list again in 2019.

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Another plant I grew this year is called, Matchbox Pepper (Capsicum annuum), and I LOVE these for the ease of growing and plant size.

Matchbox Pepper Plants

Why are they so great?

Because they are absolutely perfect for hanging baskets.

The peppers are tiny (and supposed to be spicy but we haven’t tasted one yet – probably will this weekend as they are reddening now), and they are decorative.

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But the fact this plant stays compact makes them just wonderful in hanging baskets.

They, like some of the tomato plants, had to be started early inside. They mature 75 days from transplant. They just started to turn red last week.

Now, I just have to learn how to dry these hot peppers, or make some chili this weekend.

And another bonus about pepper plants is that critters tend to stay away from the hot ones. And the fact the plant is in a hanging basket keeps them up high and potentially away from critters looking for a tasty treat.

Upcoming Workshops

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If you want to learn my process on how I overwinter my tropical plants by storing root bases, tubers, rhizomes, corms, etc, the dates have been published on WORKSHOPSCT.com for early September.

I am scheduling it early so people may prepare ahead of frosts. Sign up is requested for headcount but it is a simple ‘pay at the door’ setup for this session.

I’m in love with the big foliage of the tropical plants (canna, elephants ears, and red banana plants) which, as I noted, is flourishing in this heat, humidity, and rainfall.

Tropical Cont Gardens Cathy T_0005

Another bonus about tropical plants is they remain gorgeous all the way into October, and tomatoes for that matter sometimes continue into early October as well.

Well, that’s all for today – I have to get busy again.

I’ll let you know if that juicy Mikado tomato made it – and if yes, it is my lunch today.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Location: Broad Brook, CT
www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Tropical Cont Gardens Cathy T_0002

Wine Bottle Garden Art Workshop Day

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Hi Everyone,

Here’s a recap of our workshop day with Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. We had a great time creating what we called, “Garden Art Creations with Wine Bottles.”

wine-glass-art-workshop-day_0004Each creation had its own unique touches or embellishments which held a special meaning to the attendees.

For example, I included a cork from a champagne bottle I had opened when celebrating a milestone. The cork sat in a box waiting for a special place, and having it be part of my wine bottle art piece was perfect.

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Another attendee brought corks along with a horse image on them because she is an avid horse lover – equestrian to be exact. She used her corks along with a balanced mix of colors in her bead selections for her piece.

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During our workshop I stated, “Crafting is good for the soul” — and this I believe to be truth. When you sit quietly focused, your mind wanders a bit as you start working with your hands. It is very therapeutic. At times, we would start up conversations – and during other moments, we were focused on our pieces and in the “crafting zone.”

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I’m grateful we had Laura here again to be our guest instructor. She is a mixed media artist who creates paintings ranging from pets to nature to whimsical objects and anything in between. Her business is called, timefliesbylauralie.

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As I’ve stated many times, I love her art style and art work. Just look at these adorable pumpkin figurines and her magnets. She has many, many more pieces and appears often at shows around Connecticut.

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And at our workshop, we each were given a antique hand-stamped spoon to add to our pieces with “wine themed quotes.” She also sells spools at shows.

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During our workshop last Saturday, Laura took the time to go over each step, and rather than attempt to cut our wine bottles during the class which would have taken a huge amount of time, she pre-cut them all for us and explained the process to attendees.

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She also taught us about types of wire to use and why, how to assemble and work with the wire and each embellishment, and shared stories of her art and methods.

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Each piece created by the attendees during this workshop was different. For example, one attendee used soft pinks in her bottle. While another used warm and hot tones for colors.

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I included little charms with the words like Hope, Dream, Wish, and “Love what you do, Do what you love” on my wine bottle. In addition to using the special champagne cork I had saved, I used a bottle a friend gave me a while back so the bottle itself was special.

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There is so much you could add to “adorn” your bottle, as Laura would state – she used the word “adorn” quite a bit. She got me so inspired, I’m already starting on another one – which will be a witch Halloween theme. I will be sure to post the photos of it when done.

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The date of the workshop was geared for the transition from the end of summer and entering our upcoming fall, however, I learned so many other interested attendees wanted to attend but had conflicts due to final end of summer vacations or plans.

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So, I think next year, we will shoot for the third week of September so more people can make it – providing we have Laura return again – which I’m hoping she will.

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Speaking of Laura – I want to say, “Thank you again, Laura – You are a born artist and exceptional teacher. We appreciate your time, generosity, and spirit at our Container Crazy CT Workshops.”

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

UP NEXT:

Overwintering Plants, Oct 15 – Learn to store Canna, Ensete (red banana), Colocasia (elephants ears), and other plants so they may be regrown next spring in your container gardens.

Growing Your Own Nutritious Soil Sprouts, Nov 5th – Learn how to grow soil sprouts via an easy 5-7 day method for harvest indoors all fall, winter and next season.

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Round Two – Container Garden Workshop in Broad Brook on May 23rd

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During this busy month of gardening preparations, this is a short quick post to first say THANK YOU to the wonderful attendees of Workshop No. 1 on May 16th.

It did not rain, we had tons of fun, it moved so fast, and everyone’s container garden creations with tropical plants, perennials, and annuals are beautiful.

And the second reason for this post is to remind anyone interested in Workshop No.2 on May 23rd.

Hands-On and Fun

Hands-On and Fun

To Register, fill out the Contact Form below
or text at 860-977-9473

Each Attendees Receives Instructional Booklets and Plant Catalogues

Each Attendees Receives Instructional Booklets and Plant Catalogs – Plus a GIFT bag

It’s DIY, Educational, Plant Filled, and about Potting Passion!

Cathy T shows how to work with color echos in your pots.

Cathy T shows how to work with color echos in your pots.

We Make Big Pots – for Big Statements!

Beautiful Creation by Attendee Donna at last week's class - Love the dark tones and textures!

Beautiful Creation by Attendee, Donna, at last week’s class – Love the dark tones and textures!

Cathy T talks about why Big Pots are important for Container Gardening

Cathy T talks about why Big Pots are important for Container Gardening

Attendees Get into the Zone - The Pot Planting Zone

Attendees Get into the Zone – The Pot Planting Zone

Talk about FOCUS! :)

Talk about FOCUS! 🙂

Awaiting Delivery After Class - So Pretty

Awaiting Delivery After Class – So Pretty

More photos will be posted in the near future – Stay Tuned.  Enjoy your Containers and Patio Pots!

Cathy Testa

Container Crazy CT

For More Information:

CLASS DESCRIPTION

Reasons to Use Perennials in Pots

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One more day until Container Crazy CT’s workshop on container gardening with powerful perennials and tropical plants. The lucky ladies signed-up are in for a treat! Want to join us? There are just a few seats remaining for tomorrow’s hands-on workshop. You get instruction, tips, and insider info as you pot up your beautiful container gardens and patio pots.

You may wonder why should you use perennials in pots in the first place? Well, here’s just a few of the bene’s:

MORE LIKE A TRUE GARDEN

Perennial plants give your container gardens and patio pots a true garden feel when combined with other blooming annuals and textural plants. How many times have your seen a garden stuffed with only annuals? Not very often I am sure – and it would be too much color in my opinion, and a huge waste because annuals won’t winter over or return. Perennials give your container gardens and patio pots the feel of a true garden in a pot.

A mix of perennials and annuals with a thriller topical - Looks like a garden in a pot!

A mix of perennials and annuals with a thriller topical – Looks like a garden in a pot!

 

ARE LESS DEMANDING AND FUSSY

Perennials are less demanding because they are a little bit tougher. They don’t need to be deadheaded, cleaned up, or pampered on a routine basis or throughout the growing season over and over again. You basically clean them up after their flower cycle during a set period of time based on their particular bloom cycles, whereas annuals need this attention regularly because they bloom constantly. You can spend more time enjoying perennials than pampering them.

Stachy monieri 'Hummelo' has textural foliage and is a tough perennial

Stachy monieri ‘Hummelo’ has textural foliage and is a tough perennial

NOT AS MUCH WATERING

Some perennials don’t require as much watering as delicate and fussy annuals do in the season. With the right soil environment and growing space in a pot from the start, you can pretty much expect the perennial to proceed with what it is used to doing – growing and blooming on queue for you. Learn what is right to use to grow the best powerful perennials in container gardens at the workshop.

EXTENDS YOUR SEASONS

Perennials can take colder temperatures than annuals, so many perennials may be put out earlier than annual plants, giving you an early start to container gardening outdoors in the spring. And perennials may be left out later when fall arrives as well, allowing them to go dormant in the pot before overwintering them. There are many ways to do this which we discuss in Container Crazy CT’s workshops.

Stachys monieri 'Hummelo' - Easy to transition to the garden

Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’ – Easy to transition to the garden

BLOOMS ARE EVER CHANGING

Perennial’s blooms are ever changing, they don’t sit idle. Perennials tend to be like the “star cast members” in a patio pot and container garden. They add interest and change up your container garden display sequentially. Imagine having some color in your pot from a perennial plant that blooms through spring, then a different perennial in the pot sends up its blooms in July and continues to September, and meanwhile a mid-summer perennial plant bloomed in the pot. You have action happening all the time.

Bloom open on perennial 'Hummelo' while foliage carries a strong textural design.

Blooms open on perennial ‘Hummelo’ while foliage carries a strong textural design.

FOLIAGE FOR LONG LASTING TEXTURE

Perennial offer a wide array of showy textures and colors in their foliage, and some are known for being fantastic foliage candidates to mix up your design in your pots. The color of the foliage stays true as it grows and shows. Embrace the foliage – it is what makes your design stable and long-lasting. When a perennial isn’t blooming, it is working in your container as a foliage feature, whereas most annuals do nothing if they are not in bloom. Foliage is architecture in your pot.

Digiplexis 'Berry Canary' is Berry Nice Indeed, makes a beautiful flowering filler or thriller in a pot! Zone 7 plant.

Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ is Berry Nice Indeed, makes a beautiful flowering filler or thriller in a pot! Zone 7 plant. There will be some tropicals at the workshop too ! Let’s mix it up.

SOLO CANDIDATES ARE LITERALLY ONE AND DONE

If you like it super simple, pick a stunning pot and plant it up with one perennial which will grow wider, taller and fuller in your pot as it progresses from season to season. That is ‘One and Done’ baby! You only have to overwinter the pot and roll it back out to your favorite spot outdoors every spring.

SIMPLE STEPS TO OVER WINTERED MORE WAYS THAN ONE

They can be over wintered in the pot to regrow every season when stored properly, and there are several ways to do so, which we will go over in Container Crazy CT’s workshops this May. Because perennials return, they are reusable without repaying the following season. Unlike annuals which get tossed, perennials are here to stay in your pots and gardens – no replanting required. They act in a double-duty fashion, and we explain all of this in our workshops.

Ensete (Red Banana) is unrolling - getting ready for the Workshop tomorrow!

Ensete (Red Banana) is unrolling – getting ready for the Workshop tomorrow!

Container Garden Workshop – Session One

Saturday, May 16th – Tomorrow
11 am (start time); end time anywhere between 2-3-4 pm (up to you!)
Cost: $15 to register + price of plants purchased at class for your container/patio pot – we have lots.
To register, call 860-977-9473 or text
Rain: No worries, we have coverage for us and our plants

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Happy Friday Everyone,

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

Why Attend a Container Gardening Workshop about Perennials?

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Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT located in Broad Brook offers a service that brings the plants and education directly to you in one spot on the day of her classes and workshops. The workshops are convenient – You don’t have to travel from store to store to get a great selection of plants – and you get Cathy T’s advice and knowledge as you pick and choose the plants you want to pot up at the workshop.

What makes this class different is a lot of effort goes into getting everything ready for just for you – think of Cathy T’s workshops as a personalized class service for you. She hand selects the plants from local reputable growers based on experience of prior use, her classroom is a place you can get dirty and not worry about it or need to clean up after, and it is fun!

You also get to chance to meet other plant and garden people local to your area, make new friends, and enjoy a day with no true work on your part.  Just think, you show up, plant, learn, and take home your patio pots – there is no need to put away that heavy soil, sweep up the floor, or deal with empty trays to recycle.

Purple Power

Delosperma (Ice Plant) cascades over the rim of this pot – A beautiful perennial with drought tolerance and lots of blooms; it is a wonderful filler and spiller in container gardens – and it returns!

What are the best perennials to use in container gardens?

Maybe you haven’t considered using perennials in pots, maybe you don’t know what they are, or maybe you have. One thing is for sure, Cathy T has used various perennials in container gardens and patio pots over the years due to her experience as a local professional container designer – and she will tell you which have worked and which haven’t – some return easily, some are a little trickier, but either way, she will share with her knowledge of powerful perennials at this class.

Perennials offer lots of design benefits from being truly architectural in pots to providing continuous or cycle of blooms. They can be powerful in container gardens, and you will hear about each one available during the Container Gardening Workshop in May and how to capitalize on their features. Tropical plants are part of the workshops too. There are ways to reuse perennials and tropical plants in patio pots again and again. You will learn how to grow them, store them, and over winter them for use every year which is covered during the Container Garden Workshops in May.

Flamingo Pink

Justicia carnea with pink blooms in a container garden – Attracts hummingbirds and as tropical plant in our CT Zone – It is very showy along side Coleus annual and a hardy shrub above.

Ever have trouble getting help when it’s busy?

Getting attention and help on your perennial questions is sometimes difficult to obtain when you visit a busy garden center as the doors swing open for spring, especially this year – after our snowy winter and slow warm up of spring, everyone is anxious to get going. By attending Container Crazy CT’s personalized workshop, you get help and attention in a setting that is not over crowded or too busy. It is not everyone that is willing to share their background story on plants or what is going on in the industry – but Cathy T often does at her workshops and classes. Get the inside scoop by signing up for the workshop – and you will learn from the other attendees in class as well because many of them have their own experiences with plants or they may be new attending for the first time and want to learn what you have tried, even as a beginner, or if you are more seasoned – either way, it is an open forum at the classes.

Examples of things you will learn at this class:

  • Specific details about each perennial and tropical available at the workshops
  • How to plant perennials in the appropriate soil in pots
  • Design and color tips to choose showy combinations with perennials and tropicals
  • Cathy T’s Five Must Do’s for Success with Container Gardening
  • Ways to overwinter key perennials and tropical plants
  • How to capitalize on troublemaker perennials and make them stars in pots
  • What to know about growing perennials and tropical plants

 PERENNIAL PLANT PICTURES

  • Visit ContainerCrazyCT’s special Pinboard highlighting the selected perennials and tropical plants which will be available at ContainerCrazyCT’s May Container Garden Workshops on May 16th and May 23rd. This will give you a preview and some amazing inspiration!

Three Ways to Sign Up:

  1. Complete the Contact Form below
  2. Visit ContainerCrazyCT’s Events Page
  3. Email containercathy@gmail.com

Cost: $15 per person plus the cost of plants selected at the workshop (sales tax applicable). You only need to send your registration payment, bring the pots of your choice, and enjoy! Sign-up before the seats are filled, space is limited.

We hope you will join us!

Cathy Testa

More details may be found here:

MAY CLASS (BIG CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOPS)

CONTAINER GARDEN WORKSHOP INTRODUCTION

MAY WORKSHOP IN THREE WEEKS (PRIOR POST)

Cathy Testa Summer 2014

Cathy Testa Summer 2014

Container Gardening Workshops in Broad Brook, CT – In Three Weeks!

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Container Gardening Workshops

 Do you dream of lush, full, flower abundant container gardens on your patio, deck, surrounding your pool, or gracing the front steps of your home?

If yes, then Container Crazy CT’s Container Gardening Workshops are for you!

Pucker Up

Cathy T with plants for a workshop

Learn from a professional designer about the steps for success in designing and maintaining beautiful container gardens and patio pots at this workshop and take home your creations.

This is a fun hands-on event that everyone will find informational and convenient. So popular in fact, each May, it fills up quickly – so don’t delay – fill out the Contact Form below to sign up.

Last year's Class Group

Last year’s Class Group

Dates

Saturday, May 16th, 11 am to 2:00 pm
– or –
Saturday, May 23rd, 11 am to 2:00 pm

Water Droplets on Leaves - Different colors and textures

Water Droplets on Leaves – Different colors and textures

Workshop Details

Many plants will be available at the workshop held in Broad Brook, Connecticut for you to select from. Cathy T of Container Crazy CT uses reputable nurseries and local growers that offer quality plants, plus she has an eye for selecting ‘wow’ plants suited for stunning color and textural combinations.

The design process demonstrated during this event will be based on a theme of using ‘powerful perennials’ and ‘showy tropical plants’ this year. A large variety of perennials and tropical plants will be available for purchase and each attendee will be provided with detailed instructions and reference documentation for continued care of their plants.

The right soil mix specifically for container gardens and patio pots will be available for purchase so you don’t have to carry a thing but your beautiful container garden and patio pots ready to be filled with plant selections. And don’t worry, if your pot is too big to carry when you are done, we have delivery services available via a protected trailer.

You only need to bring yourself, a container(s) of your choice, and gardening gloves! It’s that easy.

Don’t Delay – Save Your Date Now

As noted above, you have two choices: May 16th or May 23rd.

Brugmansia tropical - Available at this Year's Workshops

Brugmansia tropical – Available at this Year’s Workshops

Workshop Cost

Only $15 per person + plus the cost of plants purchased at the class (and applicable sales tax).

Payment is mailed to Cathy T’s Landscape Designs to confirm your seat. Address is provided upon registration.

Note: Cancellations 4 days prior to the class dates are non-refundable, or you may send an alternate.

More Details

For more details, visit the menu’s above, or click these links below, and stay tuned.
Once registered, you receive additional details with your workshop confirmation.

May Container Gardening Workshop

Workshop Introduction

Pinboard – Shows Examples of Types of Plants at the Workshop

CONTACT FORM – TO SIGN UP

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Cathy Testa

Cathy Testa Summer 2014

Cathy Testa Summer 2014

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.

Evolvulus (8)

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.

A Frosty Start to October 26th in Broad Brook, CT

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And my plants felt it!

First Frost_0012

On the evening of October 25th, we received a drop in temperature around midnight, and it was only in the low 30’s around 6:00 am the next morning.  In fact, when checking Timeanddate.com, it reported the lowest temperature at 32 °F on October 26 at 5:53 AM.  That’s chilly. And my plants outdoors felt it.

Birdbath frozen with fall leaves

Birdbath frozen with fall leaves

So when I went outside around 8:00 am yesterday morning, it did not take long for me to realize I would need to go back into the house to get a felt hat, warm gloves, and heavy wool top to do my work of the day, which was taking down my big red banana plant in my large cement planter along with various elephant ears and Canna plants.

Elephant Ears and Other Tropicals Curled up

Elephant Ears and Other Tropicals Curled up

All of my tropical plants remaining outdoors were drooping downwards and heaped over from the effects of getting hit by their first frost of our autumn season.  And other plants had white and feathery frost patterns on their leaves.

Annual Thunbergia, a Blackberry plant, and Castor Bean

Annual Thunbergia, a Blackberry plant, and Castor Bean

Some leaves looked as if dew had frozen in time.  Tiny balls of clear ice could be seen on the undersides of the curled up leaves of elephant ears.  This was the pretty side to the frost on some plants, perhaps the only pretty side.  While other looked just horrible – particularly my tropical plants which can not survive below freezing temperatures.

Mojito elephant ear curled up with crystals

Mojito elephant ear curled up with crystals

They were all curled up, wilted over, and turned mushy overnight.  Liquid within their plant cells froze into ice crystals and ruptured.  This damages and kills the top part of the plant, but the underground storage organs, such as rhizomes and corms, can be stored over the winter.  Unfortunately for tropical plants, they do not have a way to protect themselves to survive frost.  However, their underground storage systems go into a semi-dormant state immediately, and can be moved to a cool but above freezing location over the winter inside the home.

Seed pods of Castor Bean frozen hard

Seed pods of Castor Bean frozen hard

Gazing ball with Mandevilla blooms and foliage

Gazing ball with Mandevilla blooms and foliage

Thus, it was definitely time for me to get the rest of my tropical plants stored for the winter season by digging up the underground storage organs or root balls and putting them away carefully. I could not put this process off any longer.  It would take most of the day and I managed to get it all done.

Canna by house not as bad as others

Canna by house not as bad as others

Ipomoea, elephant ears

Ipomoea, elephant ears

Written by Cathy Testa

P.S.  Stay tuned.  I will be sharing ‘how to’ overwinter tropical plants, but in the meantime, visit my HOW TO VIDEOS page to see some tips and tricks.

Holding an leaf and cut off top of my red banana plant.

Holding a leaf and cut off top of my red banana plant.

For a mystical and eclectic plant mix, visit Logee’s in Danielson, CT

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Logee's Growers, Danielson, CT

Logee’s Growers, Danielson, CT

When you enter Logee’s greenhouses in Danielson, CT you may want to make sure you do not suffer from claustrophobia because there is a jungle like atmosphere in this grower’s world unlike the traditional environment of a nursery.

As you enter the first greenhouse down some rickety old steps, you have to decide, do I go left or right?  And depending on what you see down the narrow corridor between plants, you may opt to take a detour.

The aisles are so lush with plantings on all sides and vines are dripping from the greenhouse ceilings above, only one person can pass through at a time.  You sometimes have to take the “high road” as one employee called it by stepping up to a side connecting pathway to allow other plant enthusiasts to pass by.

In my case, a group of very gabby women were coming towards my direction up the pathway, so I took the high road and stepped up to wait for them to go by in single file. They noticed I was admiring a papaya plant, and one lady (apparently the leader of this group) commented the plant has healing powers, where you can take the plants’ leaves and wrap them around your legs to sooth wounds, or something like that.  She had a bit of an accent so I wasn’t sure what exactly she said, but it was obvious her group was super charged about the abundant offerings of fruiting and fragrant tropical plants at this unique plant destination.  And I was too, I couldn’t wait to adventure more.

Logee's Greenhouse

Logee’s Greenhouse

I put the papaya plant back down, and contemplated returning to look at it again later, knowing I would have to browse the entire greenhouse and adjacent house before I would decided on the plants to take home.  And it would be a tough decision.  Logee’s has a large selection of many interesting plants.  And you have to look carefully – as in “up, down, and all around” to make sure you don’t miss something intriguing, plus walking in there can be a little tricky.  Let’s just say, it is not for the dainty feet, for there are some water spots and ruts along the way, all representing the 121 years of service this location has offered for the plant hobbyists falling into the ‘untamed’ category.

Dripping from the Ceilings

Dripping from the Ceilings

The greenhouses are permanent homes to many large, mature plants growing in and around the shelves of smaller, starter plants for sale.  The mature plants growing there reminds me of plants you see in conservatories, and they give you a sense of what is to come should you buy and grow a plant available at Logee’s. For example, a Golden Trumpet with rich, dark green leaves covered one area of the ceiling and was in full bloom.  There were also Clematis, Bougainvillea, Pink Power Puff, and Chinese Lantern plants suspended all around – plus many more.

Allamanda cathartica in bloom

Allamanda cathartica in bloom

You can feel, smell, see, and sense the history of this long-standing establishment, and the mix of plants – at least to me – represent the mix of the plant passions behind their offerings by a family with apparently as much diversity as their selections at Logee’s. As a large poster will tell you in the check out area, the founder’s son had a passion for begonias, his daughter for herbs and scented geraniums and her son’s passion for fragrant tropicals and fruiting container plants expanded Logee’s world into the full jungle it is today.

Bowiea volubilis

Bowiea volubilis

A comical sight to me was a big Climbing Onion situated right next to an old telephone. The plants here intermingle with the walls, equipment, and surroundings so much, it almost has an eerie feeling to it – as if the place has horticultural ghosts from the past wandering in the spaces and structure’s crevasses. If you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate depending how you look at it) to be alone in the greenhouse, you may get spooked by one of them tapping on your shoulder, but as you turn around, it will be disguised as a vine brushing up against you.  Funny how they can reach out that way.

“There is something mystical about Logee’s. The mix of plants is as eclectic as the diversity of personalities I’m sure grew this place into a destination worth visiting.”

Photo by Cathy Testa

Photo by Cathy Testa

Not only has Logee’s experienced diversity from a chain of generations, it survived a hurricane, blizzard, and energy crisis.  When I read the place was once heated with 50 cord of wood, I said, “wow” out loud.  But somehow, I imagined how enjoyable that may be for a plant lover, perhaps for the short term.  The buildings and plants housed within Logee’s have survived it all.  They have a lemon tree there, a showcase of the facility, at the ripe age of 113.  It’s been there almost as long as the business of 121 years.  I took a picture of the massive tree and its big green lemons, but decided to not post it here – I didn’t want to give away all the treasures – for you should make the trek out there sometime if you haven’t done so already.  This place has lasted a long time – one has to wonder – how many more years will we get to enjoy it?  I’m sure the plants in there will last longer than some of us.

Logee’s is located at 141 North Street, Danielson, CT.  Their website is www.logees.com where you can easily view their plant availability and more information, but going out to the grower’s location is something worth doing.  An adjacent rural town is Pomfret which has some local artisans and quaint shops to visit along the way.  Stop for some good food at “Pizza 101” at 16A Mashamoquet Road, Pomfret Center before or after your trip.  They have great sandwiches, grinders, salads, and yes, pizza there. Make a day trip of it because it is a long drive from at least my location – and perhaps your’s but the country roads are enjoyable if you have the time.

My first papaya plant, 'Red Lady'

My first papaya plant, ‘Red Lady’

And yes, I did buy that papaya plant I first saw when I arrived at Logee’s.  The funny part about this ending is the very nice young lady at the register offered a couple Logee’s magazines to me.  I grabbed three.  As I sat down eating my lunch after this trip, the 2013 issue shows a Babaco Papaya (Vasconceliea x heilbornii) as their featured plant on their latest catalog cover.  It is described as a superb, fruiting container plant that tolerates cool weather much better than the standard papaya.  As the owners Byron Martin and Laurelynn Martin further write on the inside cover, “You can grow this delicious fruit even if you’re a northern gardener.”  So I got a papaya, and they featured a papaya – not exactly the same cultivar, but its ironic, isn’t it?  I ended up with a papaya – to add to my fruiting collection this year. The one that lady told me had healing powers.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy Cathy T
http://www.cathytesta.com
860-977-9473

Can u guess what this is?

Can u guess what this is?

Can you guess what this plant is at Logee’s?  A Pomegranate!  (Oh and I bought a Megaskepasma erythrochlamys,…I got to go research that mouth full.  The photo of the bloom attracted me to it.)