Terrariums for Mother’s Day

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OK, I’m just gonna say it – This week’s weather was crapola! 10 degrees below normal, low clouds ALL week, cool, damp, raw, and wet. We are so looking forward to when the sun comes out to play – which is hopefully today.

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Terrariums for Mother’s Day

Today, from 10 am to noon, I will be offering terrariums for sale at Book Club Bookstore & More for Mother’s Day. When you consider this week’s weather, this actually turns out to be an excellent gift option for Moms because it is too cold to put some plants outside right now. It makes a wonderful centerpiece and is easy to care for – requiring very little watering, and with the unique decor of colorful barn animals, I think they came out just adorable.

Colorful Bunny in a Terrarium

Colorful Bunny in a Terrarium

Each one is layered like a cake with pea-sized gravel for drainage, activated horticulture charcoal to help improve drainage and keep the soil healthy, and well draining soil. Added are slow release prills to feed the plants for months, and of course the adorable, colorful animals as this go-around’s theme. I really enjoyed assembling them for this Pop-Up Event today.

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While in New Orleans for vacation, I spotted colorful wooden hand-painted animals at the French Market held on Sundays in the Quarter. I had to pick out a few with my terrariums in mind. They are so colorful and pop next to the mini-sized plants in the glass terrariums of different sizes – but note, supplies are limited, so if you would like one, come in to see us today at
100 Main Street, Broad Brook, CT 06016.

I’m happy the bookstore invited me again, as well as some other artsy vendors to participate – it is a fun way to spend the morning. There will be candles, other wine related art (can’t wait to see what it is), adult coloring books, and a featured author, etc. It may look like a small bookstore but it is packed with great books and I think I’ll bring a terrarium book along with me to show folks interested in this information.

Cute Cow in a Terrarium

Cute Cow in a Terrarium

Tulips

Last fall, I decided to plant 50 tulip bulbs in to my large cement planter which is a planter I like to do different things with and try out plants. They are purple (tall) and pink (short). They popped up before I went to NOLA and I thought, “Ooh darn! I hope I don’t miss the blooms.”

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Well, there are things I didn’t realize about tulips because I haven’t really planted them before to be honest – they last a LONG time, they enjoy the cool weather (which we had all week), and they close a bit every evening. I am IN LOVE with them.

They pop color from so many views (from my bathroom window, when I exit my basement, when I’m in the yard and can see them from a distance). They have been the sunshine during this cloudy week – the color is so vivid.

The only downfall was the darn squirrels. One day, I saw them with their heads buried into the soil and I yelled, “Hey GET AWAY from my tulips!! Arrr!”

To help reduce their munching visits, I scatted some hot pepper on the soil and that kept them away for a little while anyways. Next year, chicken wire will be laid over them to avoid that scenario, cause now I’m hooked. By the way, I dump my left over soil from the prior year’s container gardens into this cement planter – this why you see perlite in it, etc.

Go Local Magazine

It is finally issued and out in local stores – and friends have been spotting it. I’d like to thank Go Local for featuring me and other local artisans and small business owners. It was great meeting them and having their writer visit before I took off to New Orleans for the Jazz Fest weekend.

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Also, I want to point out – We made an error on the photos of me – The wrong photographer is noted. It was Karen Ladany of Debut Camera Co. who took the pro photos of me on my deck and by my red table shown in the magazine. I think my rush before vacation with lots of emails back and forth, and sharing several photographer’s work, caused an email mix up with the publisher and we both feel badly about that. Other photos in the issue were taken by their photographer as well.

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Debut Camera Co.

Karen’s photography style is one I absolutely love. She captured up-close flowers and the essence of many of my container gardens in a way is hard for me to describe, but my eyes see it. I have some of her photos on my www.WORKSHOPSCTS.com blog site as well – She took photos of my flowers, planters, containers, and even a wild turkey that decided to quickly strut by us as we were doing the photo shoot that day – and it was the hottest day of that summer. We were sweating but she was getting ready to move, and so I had to grab her services before she took off. She’s excellent.

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Enjoy Your Mother’s Day!!!

Cathy Testa

860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

“All About Container Gardening and Combining Nature with Art”

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Elizabeth Park Offers A Spring Greenhouse Show

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Happy First Day of Spring Everyone!

Spring arrives today in about 9 hours from the time I’m typing this post – However, the clouds in East Windsor right now sure don’t match our date on the calendar. We may get another frosting of snow today – let’s hope it is the last for the season.

It is chilly and gloomy, so I thought I’d share just a few snapshots from my visit to the Elizabeth Park Conservancy (located at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Asylum Avenue on the Hartford-West Hartford Line) to cheer you up as you deal with today’s weather.

I attended the show yesterday. Fortunately, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the warmth of the greenhouse was a refreshing change from the cold temps still lingering outdoors.

(Address for GPS: 1561 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT).

Burst of Spring Colors

Burst of Spring Colors

The first thing I noticed was the smell of Hyacinth, which looks similar to the purple Muscari shown in the photo above but is much bigger – and everyone knows of them – Hyacinth bulbous flowering plants are very popular during Easter. They have an intense strong scent so it is no wonder the blooms of many filled my nose the minute I opened the door to the greenhouse at Elizabeth Park.

Row of Happiness

Row of Happiness

I arrived at 9:45 am figuring it would be best for parking. Taking 91S to 84W, and the exit for Asylum Street, turn right, go straight for about 1.5 miles, and the park entrance is on your left.

First thing I saw was a big fallen tree on the ground which fell over from the force of the 40-60 mph winds the day before. It was near the entrance area. A tree working crew was just showing up to clean that up.

Proceeding down the lane to the greenhouses, I planned to park adjacent to a nice cafe, called the Pond House, they have at the site – but the parking spaces were already full. This really surprised me, so I exited and took a right, circled back, and re-entered the park again. By this time, the tree crew moved to another part of the road and they were all looking up at a limb hanging above. Because the road is one-way, I parked on the roadside near the rose garden beds and took a brisk walk to the greenhouses. I really didn’t mind the walk because it was blue skies and very sunny. Others were walking the park for exercise too.

Yellow tulip at Elizabeth Park Greenhouse

Yellow tulip at Elizabeth Park Greenhouse

I absolutely adore yellow roses and tulips – and I enjoy taking close up shots of flowers. So, with my handy iPad, I started to lean in to take shots. The greenhouse was quiet – only 4 other people were inside chatting and admiring the plants. I found out later the crowded parking lot was due to seminars and classes being held in the cafe.

Amaryllis Blooms

Amaryllis Blooms

Fascinated by the internal structures of flowers, I leaned closer to a beautiful Amaryllis flower to take photos. Many are blooming in the greenhouse. I love how the sun placed shadows of the stamen and pistil parts of the flower on the petals. To know those tiny pollen molecules move from the anthers of the stamen to the stigma female portion is incredible. So many things happen in plants, if only we could zoom in closer or see the insides operating.

Anyhow! The pink flower petals of the Amaryllis were sparkling in the sun which was truly glorious on a sunny bright winter’s day in their greenhouse. I was fortunate and happy I took the time to visit.

Frilled Edges of a Tulip

Frilled Edges of a Tulip

Visiting the greenhouse early in the morning hours was a good call. The sun was shining through and hitting the blooms everywhere. This tulip has frilly edges to its flower petals – making it all the more elegant in soft yellow.

This Spring Greenhouse Show at Elizabeth Park runs from March 14th to March 27th, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. The various spring bulbs will definitely cheer you up if you decide to go.

Middle Row Filled

Middle Row Filled

As I snapped away, one of the workers came inside to tend to plants, so I took the opportunity to ask him how the greenhouse is heated. The structures here are ancient and historic – In fact, Elizabeth Park is on the national register of historic places. There are three greenhouses on the property – only one is part of the showcase at this time. The worker was very kind and told me it is heated by large pipes which run directly under the benches, which of course, I didn’t notice or see because the benches are fully covered with flowers and plants. The temperature in the greenhouse was 60 degrees during the time of my visit, and he told me at night they keep it between 45-50, and the sun is what rose the temp to 60 at that time. I surely was enjoying it!

Splashes of Red and Orange

Splashes of Red and Orange

If you are a photographer, there are plenty of photo-opps here! One of the visitors in the greenhouse was a pro – he had this big tube which he held up at the end of his camera lens, and he didn’t take long to capture his photos. I was sure to not interrupt him – taking pictures of plants is a form of therapy while you go from one to the other in a old beautiful greenhouse when the sun is shining. The only thing you hear are the six fans circulating away at the top of the structure and some mumbles of plant admirers in the greenhouse.

For more information – Visit the Park’s Website

Cathy Testa

Bring on the Easter Colors

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Tulips in Vase

Tulips in Vase

Yesterday I was determined to get some color, and since the outside was blanketed with snow on the first day of spring for 2013, I spontaneously decided to pick up some fresh tulips while at the grocery store.  I placed them in a green glass pitcher and added some white twigs – and voila, the color arrived.

Begins to Open

Begins to Open

Within the first five minutes or so, I could see the tulips petals begin to expand from the warmth and water uptake.  I thought it is amazing how quickly they respond to being admired.

Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-Boo

So, because I’m obsessed with plants and flowers, I took a shot of the petals opening up.  Finally, I thought, I got some color in this house.  Then I placed one yellow tulip by my window to capture the sun’s rays.  Yellow happens to be my favorite color for tulips and roses.

Yellow petals capture the sun

Yellow petals capture the sun

This little bit of activity prompted me to go dig out a box of Easter decorations from my basement and put out some bunnies and other Easter goodies to brighten up the home inside.  It was time to bring on some Easter colors.

Easter Bunny Lady

Easter Bunny Lady

I also installed a container garden display outside of my client’s business.  Usually I include some daffodils, hyacinths, or other spring blooming plants – but it is only in the mid 20’s to mid 30’s, and I thought, I’ll jut put out some decorations and as soon as Easter is over, I’ll add some live plants.

It was cold outside as I was working with the wind blowing, and I was a bit frustrated of not having spring-like temperatures, but this process cheered me up.  The bunnies faces are too adorable – and the colors reminded me of the tulips I put in the house earlier.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

When I work on the displays for this client, the customers walking into his store always compliment me – saying, “You do such a good job!”  They just love the change of the seasonal displays – and that makes me happy.

Cute Couple

Cute Couple

Aren’t these pair of bunnies so cute?  I think so.  Seeing them made me think of the Easter goodies and colors as a kid.  I always loved getting Easter baskets and cards when I was a child, and as an adult, I also love preparing and giving Easter baskets to my nieces and nephews, and still do.

One year, my Aunt hid Easter baskets all over my parent’s house.  I remember us running through the house, trying to find our basket. The rule was if you found someone else’s basket, you could not give it away – where it was hidden, so we would scream and laugh when we would find other’s – for our brothers or sisters.  Thank you Aunt Lucy – I remember you doing this for us!

I miss the “Candy Castle” store we use to have in our town where you could buy homemade chocolates.  The smell would be so alluring when you would walk into the place, but now it is gone.  Another fond Easter memory.

Two barrels

Two barrels

There are two barrels in front of this store, and the other one has a male bunny.  I didn’t take a photo.  Lovely bag of rock salt in the back, eh?  It is the little hint that we have snow right now.  But – Spring is Coming – It is coming – right???  In the meantime, get into the Easter spirit.  Add some color inside if you can’t get it outside yet.

Container Crazy Cathy T
http://www.cathytesta.com
860-977-9473
ctesta@sbcglobal.net