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The Symbolism Behind the Holly Plant

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

The Holly Tree

Mild day in winter, week before Christmas

Turns out the tree in your front yard has been

A holly tree all along, finally showing true colors

As a taxi driver leaves the driveway and

A neighbor in a red shirt crosses the concrete

Sidewalk. The succulents to my side reach like alien

Synapses, your white car looks at me cross-

eyed, cinnabar brick damp with Peninsula fog.

By Kelly O'Connor


photo credit via howtogrowstuff.com

The Holly Tree is one of the most popular symbols of the Yuletide spirit and is on the list of the top ten requested items for seasonal décor.  The primary reason behind this is the plants stunning appearance that exudes shockingly strong colors of green and red.  Its bright and shiny foliage is complimented beautifully by crimson red berries that dangle from the wood of the stem making this a Christmas lovers treasure when utilizing holly in centerpieces, wreaths and garland.  Often, you can find this variety planted as a bush outside residential homes where it remains true to its color year round (yes, even in New England).  Due to this desirable trait, many florists and decorators adore this hardy species because of other flowers difficulty surviving the harsher winter weather where they fall victim typically to ice and frost.  If it’s not used in landscaping, you’ll see cut branches often folded into festive arrangements, particularly when accompanied with red roses, pine and other traditional December greenery.  One thing that you want to keep in mind if you’re planning on bringing holly into your house are its prickly leaves that are sharp enough to cause wounding if one gets too close.  Perhaps this singular flaw is the reason behind its symbolic reference when not paired with the cheer and joy of Christmas.  

Holly’s hard, pointed edges are historically referenced with the idea of “combativeness” and “pain”.  The beguiling attractiveness of the plant also explains the theme of “trickery” found in religious transcripts not unlike the forbidden fruit in Adam and Eve.  The appeal of the round jewel toned orbs and the glitz of the leaves exudes the well-known lesson, “Not everything that is beautiful is necessarily a good thing.”  “Aggression” and “defensiveness” are two more synonyms associated with holly, particularly in Roman times when the redness of the berries were a sign of war and bloodshed to come.  Several battles are on record to have occurred just because a soldier spotted the tree in full bloom, triggering him to be on guard no matter who was the next to approach him.  Like many other plants possessing the red appearance of a bloom or fruit, holly is also tied to the devil meaning that he is close by and watching you.  

Tags: Language of Flowers, Symbols of Christmas, Flower Meanings, Holly

Christmas Gifts from the Heart, Not from Your Wallet

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

December is a great time to spend with friends and family but sometimes we forget what the holiday is all about.  Frequently, our concerns are focused on checking off our list of presents we feel we have to buy, complaining about the long lines in the department stores.  I’m not saying that our purchases during the season aren’t gifted with good intent, I’m just stating that much of what we buy to wrap up and put underneath the tree is unnecessary. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars later we are merely left with that feeling of “thank god that’s over” while we sweat over next month’s credit card statements.  


It’s just not what Christmas is supposed be about so why not make real presents with our hearts instead of our wallets this season?  Not only will they be appreciated more, they won’t leave you fumbling to make January’s mortgage payment.  If you have little ones, you might really want to take this suggestion seriously.  One day they’ll be making holiday preparations for their own families.  Teaching them that Christmas isn’t about how much you spend early on is a life-long lesson that someday they’ll appreciate.  You don’t have to be overly crafty or talented to make beautiful presents either.

Tags: Symbols of Christmas, Christmas, Holidays, Gifts

Dressing Up Your Doorsteps for the Holidays

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

It’s time again to make plans for your holiday décor since the season is now upon us!  As you’re reading this, you’ve probably begun to make a list for garland, wrapping paper and maybe even a tree but please keep in mind that there’s plenty to do outside of your home as well.  Did “Christmas Vacation” just flash across your head, remembering the efforts of Clark Griswold blacking out his neighborhood with an extravagant light display?  Although hysterically funny, I’ll reassure you that decorating the outside of your home doesn’t have to be this elaborate…

suzie front steps.jpg

By using a few easy tips, you’ll be able to create a beautiful holiday presentation without spending gobs of money or using up precious time that could be better spent with family.   By “Recycling, Refurbishing and Reapplying” certain items that you already own, you can transform your plain entryway into a gorgeous welcoming display for friends and family.  Many people believe they have to be “Martha Stewart” in order to achieve a “magazine cover” appeal but judging by this guideline, you clearly don’t.  Shake off your worries and roll up your sleeves because it’s time to get going on your outdoor holiday decoration!



Check in the garage and attic for anything that can be used to hold either small or large arrangements.  Iron cast urns, ceramic pots and metal containers are fabulous for holding pine and other seasonal greenery.  Next, poke around for last year’s lights and take a few minutes to both untangle and plug in to see if they still work.  Typically, the previous winter’s bulbs are tossed out for convenience but you’ll be happy to save a few bucks reusing rather than spending unnecessary finances.   



Sometimes we toss out certain objects because they become a little shabby, worn or rusted, particularly things used in the yard such as planters.  Instead of automatically discarding them, we should be thinking first if they can be fluffed and buffed for future purpose.  When setting up an outdoor holiday display, these items become treasures by simply giving them a good cleaning and applying a fresh new polish of paint.  Marble, cast iron and metal materials are fantastic for this process and will come out looking brand new when placed on the doorsteps stuffed with pretty foliage.  



I love naturally growing outdoor foliage and even though the flowers have disappeared until spring, there is plenty still available for the picking.  If you live near wooded or forested areas, simply clip a few smaller branches from nearby trees and combine together in an outdoor pot.  Make sure you are collecting from a variety of species and you’ll soon learn that you don’t have to be a floral designer to make stunning arrangement both in and outdoors!

Tags: Holiday Decor, Christmas, December, Pottery

Ornamental Magic on a Budget

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

hristmas time is here and the bells are ringing, music is flowing and the decorations are being hung with care!  One of the biggest yuletide displays is the beloved Christmas tree, which is customarily decked out with shiny baubles and lights.  This presentation is the focus of the celebratory decor so it’s important to take pride in choosing themes, color palettes and textures.  

But wait a minute…  This can be EXPENSIVE!


photo credit via http://www.nomeatathlete.com/

Have you ever really done a good accounting check on how much ornaments, tinsel and lights can cost for only a single year?  Generally, tree accessories can be a fortune ranging anywhere from $5.00 to $50.00 for a single package.  Holiday companies have made a fortune over charging for personalized gifts and hanging tokens when realistically we’re only using them one day out of the whole year!  I mean come on!  How much is overspending when it comes to dressing up a tree?


photo credit via http://www.bhg.com/

Through careful research, I’ve found some great ways to cut back on the elaborate ornament fees by just using a little imagination.  Make your tree gorgeous without having to tap into the kids college fund and show your guests you can still implement a look with style and taste!  Start checking in your closets, attics and basements because I guarantee- you’ll have everything you need if you do some prep work before hand.  Be sure to add both perishable and nonperishable items including dried fruits and antique relics that have been passed down for generations.  Select only materials that are small in size and durable enough to be featured on branches that might be whimsy.  This is a fun activity for the entire family so get together and raid the house for anything and everything that will make your tree uniquely spectacular!


photo credit via http://stowandtellu.com/

Tags: Holiday Decor, Christmas, Kids, DIY, Christmas Ornaments, Crafts

Popular Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

Flowers are a customary tradition when planning a funeral and are often one of the happier highlights to the event because of their ability to soothe onlookers with their beauty and aroma.  Quite often, you’ll notice arrangements in baskets given by friends and family, pulpit arrangements and of course, the casket covers designed in a variety of different ways.  Sometimes relatives decide to have flower arrangements reflect a personality trait or a favorite color and other times there is a religious connection to the selected blooms.  Florists also have their favorites, which are often an assortment of chrysanthemums, roses and lilies.  One reason is due to their easy, availability from wholesalers year round and the second relies on the symbolic meaning they reflect when utilized in funeral pieces.


Certain blossoms hold certain meanings when it comes to funerals and each can represent a particular thought, feeling or sentiment that grievers wish to express.  If you’ve never heard of this practice than you’ll want to learn more about the flowers your sending and the messages they’re conveying!  Here is a list of the most popular varieties of funeral flowers used in the northeast and their meaning when implemented on this occasion.  



Roses are the single most requested variety used in funeral pieces because they’re large enough to take up space, strong enough to last most temperatures for the duration of the occasion, highly fragrant and have a unique meaning according to each shade chosen.  Yellow is typically the sign for friendship while pink pays homage to remembrance and kindness.  Red is probably the most universal for funerals because it symbolizes grief and love and white transcribes as purity, innocence and everlasting bonds.

fuenral flowes west roxbury.jpg


Chrysanthemums (or otherwise known as spider mums and pom poms) are the oldest variety connected with funeral flowers with the exception of roses.  As they are usually relatively inexpensive, they have a substantial head that allows designers to easily create casket covers and other larger pieces for the ceremony or gravesite.  These flowers also hold a strong significance within many religions and emphasize the idea of “rebirth” and “heaven” in many cultures around the world.



When it comes to funerals, lilies have a bad wrap and it’s mainly due to its pungent smell that can fill an entire room.  Wildly popular with undertakers and funeral directors, these star-like flowers make a grand presence because of their size and shape as well as emit a reflection of “grace” and “angelica”.  The bloom also holds a direct connection to the Christian religion where it is believed that grievers filled the Virgin Mary’s tomb with pure white stems of lilies.  Unfortunately, many people link the flower’s appearance and scent to death and are sometimes rejected by those who become upset by the association.    

Tags: Language of Flowers, Sympathy Flowers, Funeral Florist, Funeral Flowers, Flower Meanings

Winter Wedding Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

Throughout 2016, we’ve seen an impressive parade of weddings grace our Boston aisles, each having their own style and tradition to display.  The remarkable efforts of our finer city florists have truly out done themselves across the spring, summer and fall months of the year, so now we ask, “What do you have in store for the winter?”  Now that we find ourselves entering the colder realm of New England, designers have a fresh palette of color and texture to help construct yet another magnificent, bridal presentation for those planning to wed during December, January and February.  For those who think that the chillier weather is too hard to manifest a fabulous wedding floral presentation, think again… Florists are generating jaw-dropping pieces for centerpieces, bouquets and pew markers that are sure to impress even the most skeptic guest.  If you’re planning on walking down the aisle within the next few months, you might want to scroll through these ideas that embrace the beauty and breath take of winter in New England. 


Pew Markers and Podium Arrangements


photo credit via Lombardo's in Randolph

Sometimes when we thing of winter flowers, we automatically envision green, red or white but in all honesty, there’s a lot more options out there than merely Christmas colors.   Just by using our imaginations, we can transform all churches, temples and other religious centers into mystical staging perfect for brides and grooms everywhere.  One tip to keep in mind is that winter flora should be depictive of reflective color similar to ice and candlelight.  Pastels are the precise answer, including hues of peach, cream and light green that stay away from deeper shades like purple and crimson.


Table Centerpieces


For dinner receptions, you should be focusing on the lighting, which should be glowing and dream-like in nature.  Unlike the summer or spring where the mood is typically bright, winter bridal décor should be cozier and that goes for your table work as well.  Creams and opalescent tones are especially nice during this time of year and can be either created in large or small containers.  Since votives are a “must have” with this type of appeal, use varieties that will soak in the mood such as white roses, succulents or lambs ear greenery. 


Bridal Bouquets and Boutonières


Silver is an excellent property that should be worked in wherever it can, especially within bridal bouquets and boutonières.  Not only is it reflective of snow but it also a shade remindful of fairy tales and magic-an idea many brides love to see interwoven throughout their event.  Select forest types of nuts and berry foliage and combine with soft shades of blush or baby yellow.  Both the groomsmen and the bridesmaids will sparkle while the bride stays center focus within this “woodland utopia” appeal. 

Tags: Planning a Wedding, Weddings, Wedding Flowers

Don't Waste Your Money on a Poinsettia from Home Depot

Posted by Rick Canale on Sat, Nov 26, 2016

Local Boston Greenhouse
Did you know that Exotic Flowers of Boston grows hundreds of our own poinsettias at the Lombardi Florist greenhouses in Roslindale. For years, we have witnessed the glut of Canadian grown poinsettias in Massachusetts. These Canadian poinsettias flood the marketplace in November with low price tags and even lower quality. Caveat emptor.
If you cannot make it to an experienced grower or nursery like Exotic Flowers or Lombardi Florist, here are some purchasing tips so that your poinsettias lives beyond Christmas.
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Flowers: Poinsettias are leafy plants with dark green leaves. Many people believe these leaves are the flowers. They are incorrect. The real flowers are the tiny mostly yellow berrylike cyathia in the center of the leaf bract. The cyathia should be fully developed but unopened and displaying no pollen.
Colored Bracts: look for poinsettias with thoroughly colored bracts. You want a poinsettia that does not appear bruised or blemished. Droopy is bad. Avoid plants with 'burned' or dried out edges.
Leaves: Look for a poinsettia with plentiful dark green foliage all the way down to the stems. Avoid poinsettias with yellow or brown edged leaves.
Soil: Check for waterlogged soil. This could be a sign of root rot.
Pests and Diseases: If you see any type of pests or mold, avoid that plant.
white poinsettia boston resized 600
The United States recognizes Poinsettia Day every December 12th, which is also the day Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett died. Dr. Poinsett is was an American diplomat who introduced the poinsettia to the United States from its native Mexico. There is now even a College Football Bowl Game in San Diego every December to honor and promote the poinsettia, The Poinsettia Bowl.

Tags: Lombardi Florist, Boston Greenhouse, Poinsettia, Plant Care

December Birthday Horoscopes for 2016

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Nov 25, 2016

Do you know that December has one of the highest rates for birthdays celebrated?  Some say it’s the spring fever that occurs in March or the desire of parents to give birth before the New Year but whatever the reason is, Christmas and Hanukah aren’t the only festivities occurring right now!  I myself have two children and a husband’s special days to celebrate this month, making it one busy, busy time of the calendar in our household.  

Before I start gathering my list of presents for my family, I always take the time to look up their horoscope for the upcoming year.  I know it sounds silly, but often I can predict what their interests and hobbies might be in the near future!  As you well know, gift buying can be a difficult task so why not do a little research on what their horoscope has in store for them?

Horoscopes aren’t for everyone.  There’s a lot of questioning surrounding how accurate a fortune really is and the craft was historically referred to as being “make believe” or “superstitious”.  I am not one of these non-believers because I’ve always found that the descriptions in both personality and character usually string pretty closely to the person I’m reading.  Some examples are the Ares who are bull headed but great leaders, while Libra’s typically can be deemed as “romantic” although shallow and detached.  There’s something for everyone, making this a great way to get to know someone and plan ahead for his or her birthday!  

Here’s a quick foretelling of what’s in-store for December babies!


photo credit via 


November 22nd -December 21st

This is a big year for CHANGE for all Sagittarians, particularly those born from Dec 7-16.  You will be moving onto some exciting new job opportunities but be careful that you don’t become overly frustrated with co-workers.  They are watching your every move closely, so be on the lookout.  You will have a sense of continuous energy through 2016 but make sure you are careful with your finances because overspending can be a challenge for you.



December 22nd – January 20th

This year is going to be an all around successful year for Capricorn’s but it won’t focus solely on career promotions and money benefits.  Slow and steady wins the race for this sign, which will carry them well through both the big and small projects that are ahead.  Romance is also on the upturn so be on the lookout for subtle hints given by admirers.  Although this year isn’t about the flashy and exciting moments of life, it will be a smooth sail, something that Capricorns just adore!

Tags: December, Horoscope, Astrology

Baseball, Family, Flowers and Thanksgiving

Posted by Rick Canale on Wed, Nov 23, 2016

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time."

Dear friends,
I am fortunate to share your special moments with you. Sending flowers for births and anniversaries is something I cherish and gives my job meaning. I like to share my special moments with you too. This Columbus Day weekend, my family went to Niagara Falls and Cooperstown.

ryan and lance canale.jpg
While family time remains my favorite pasttime, baseball is my second favorite. The Baseball Hall of Fame's mission statement includes a focus on connecting generations through by baseball by tellings its stories and using its artifacts to bring generations together.
Isn't that what the holidays and Thanksgiving are all about ? We connect generations through our traditions and our stories. Our artifacts are the flowers on the table. We're grateful for your place at the table.

Rick Canale

Tags: Baseball, Family Business, Traditions, Family Time, Thanksgiving, Baseball Hall of Fame

Fall Chores Equal Great Workout

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Nov 21, 2016

I was working in the yard over the weekend where I was preparing for the end of fall and the beginning of winter to arrive.  I took notice of all the multi colored leaves scattered on the ground as well as the shrubbery bulging with angular branches and although it looked festive it also left a huge mess.  You probably know what I’m talking about if you’re from New England and have started similar tasks to get ahead of the frost, which will surely freeze the earth to ice.


I’ve always been well aware of the importance of these chores but what I didn’t realize is the great workout that can be utilized during autumn primping and preening!   You’d be surprised by the amount of calories one can burn in only a half hour’s work of outdoor raking, weeding and other relatable undertakings.  The bending, stretching and pulling all works crucial muscles and is just as effective as bench pressing in a gym or taking a cardio class.  These activities can be ideal for supporting a stronger body and assisting with weight loss efforts in a fun and flexible manner.


If you’re interested in trying this new approach to promoting a healthier and fitter you, try these simple home and garden projects that will get you started!  You’re yard won’t be the only one who’ll be looking good this season!


  • Raking Leaves     

       Burning calories is a snap when you pick up a rake because it’s estimated        that a person can fire off over 300 in only an hours worth of work.  You might want to keep in mind that the process of bagging them will charge up to another 100-200 calories.


  1.   If That Snowflake Should Fall Before Christmas

       Look-it’s just part of the package when you live in the northeast that a          few flakes can fall before the official start of winter.  In this case, don’t be  too upset about it because you can eliminate around 600-700 calories in  just less than one hour.  If it’s the heavy, wet, stuff, tack on another 100- 150 calories.  


  1.  Pruning Shrubs

       You might not think this involves a lot of movement but in reality,  holding a pair of shears and snapping away scraggily limbs can do a lot for your physique.  Muscles are easily flexed and           strengthened during a single half hour of this activity and can leave your arms in a firmer toned state than before.


  1.  Weeding

       I’ve mentioned this in other summer blogs but this is so effective, it  warrants re-mentioning.  Weeding is a wonderful way to give your legs  and arms more flexibility as well as exercising fine motor skills.  Calories  burned in one hour of this chore can equal over 250 and can also         stimulate relaxing hormones that will leave you in a happier frame of mind.  

Tags: Gardening, Fall, exercise, outdoors, Health

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