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Exotic Flowers in Boston

The Joys of Urban Gardening

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jul 16, 2018

“Urban Gardening” is a term heard quite often in recent years as we’ve witnessed beautiful flower and vegetable beds flourishing on top of Boston’s highest buildings.  Once unused and covered in tar, these rooftops are being converted one by one into magnificent, landscaped oasis’ that are incredibly purposeful in their design. Not only are these areas transformed into “green” areas where people can connect with the great outdoors but these gardens are also providing a healthy source of food for their proprietors.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and lettuce are just a few of the delicious assortments of crops Bostonians are harvesting right above their ceilings. Depending on the garden, a percentage of produce are sometimes even being donated to local shelters and food pantries, not only promoting healthy eating but also showing kindness to others who are less fortunate.  Further implementation of these efforts is also used for local food market inventory and restaurants focusing on the “farm to table” concept. Pretty amazing, right?

NBC NEWS FENWAY photo via NBC News - 

You might ask yourself how a slab of roofing is magically changed into these cultivatable platforms that are hundreds of feet up in the sky?  Thankfully, you don’t have to enlist the expertise of a high-priced designer or fancy architect to complete the job. You will on the other hand, need to first make sure that the roof is secure to withstand the weight of a garden.  For this job, you might have to hire a pro but once you get the “ok”, you can pretty much do the rest on your own. First, you’ll need to purchase raised bed brackets that are made out of plastic or other light form of material and put them together.  Wood gets heavy after its been rained on for a bit so unless you are making this garden on top of steel, stick to other options available. Next, fill the beds with soil adding miracle grow or some other nutrient rich compound. Plant your preferred varieties of fruits and veggies and tend to your crop as it grows.  

Did I forget to mention the watering issue? In some cases, it’s possible to install a pipe to have your water connected straight to the roof.  If this is true, then things are going to be a little easier than the guy who has to drag up a water bucket on a daily basis. Check it out and do your homework.  If it’s a problem a plumber can fix, then do it! If not, find a light weight bucket to do the job. It might take longer but look at it this way… You’ll get a heck of a workout in the process! Wait…

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Gardens

Repurposed Summer Flower Vases

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jul 05, 2018

I’ve written a lot of blogs in the past about summer flowers that make amazing indoor arrangements.  It is after all, my favorite time of year when it is incredibly easy to spot stunning bloomers for both indoor and outdoor purposes.  Maybe your thing is sunflowers or roses? Perhaps a heaping pile of blue/green hydrangea or pink perfection peonies? Whichever way your floral boat floats, summer in New England is one of the best places in the word to design pieces compiled of beautiful wildflowers.  If you are like me and love to put their green thumb to use during this season, you may have already constructed flower beds with your preference of chosen varieties. If this is the case, you’ve already probably begun clipping some of the earlier favorites such as sweet pea, helioborus or bachelor buttons that seem to be cultivated everywhere.  Have you made arrangements for your dining room, living room, bathroom or bedroom already? I can attest that I sure I have!

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Once you’ve been bitten by this bug to design your own floral displays, we come to an important question of what we will display them in?  You might have a particular vase you like to use or maybe you don’t care as long as the container doesn’t leak. In these cases, you should arrange your bouquets in whatever you’d like but if you’re looking to find ways to expand your vase collection, I just may have some tips that can come in handy…

 

Unlike popular belief that floral containers have to be vases, many top designers have looked outside the traditional vessels and gone for some unique ideas that are fun and attractive.  Sometimes by choosing something that is a little different, we can create a fantastically original piece no one has ever thought of before! Search places in your house such as the attic and basement first.  These are the most likely areas where you’ll strike “JACKPOT!” for unexpected cool flower holders. Often, we forget about the old jars we were saving for that big canning project or an antique water-tight tin where we used to keep our pencils handy.  These are only two examples of what you may already have that make incredible containers for your wildflower clippings. Other suggestions might include:

Coffee Tin Containers

Soup Containers

Pots and Ceramics

China Sets

Tea Cups

Old Milk Bottles (Glass)

Scotch/Jim Bean Bottles

Wine Bottles

Water Bottles (Glass)

Beer Bottles (Glass)

 

These are merely a few ideas to get you going but go on the hunt yourself and see what turns up!  You might just be surprised by the treasures you find…

Tags: Vases, Summer, Sunflowers

Summer Flowers That Make Great Indoor Flower Arrangements

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Jul 03, 2018

Everything around us is up and blooming here in New England with beautiful foliage and flowers popping up from the green ground!  Whether we are growing our own summer beds or just enjoying someone else’s landscaping efforts, Bostonians are stopping often during their daily busy routines to embrace the beauty of summertime blossoms and the significant appeal they add to the view.  Personally, I love to check out what everyone else is cultivating in their yards, particularly varieties of blossoms that can be easily cut and transferred in to the home. Making your own arrangements during this time of year can be both rewarding and therapeutic, making it a popular past time for many.  Of course, there are certain blooms that are better for use in this hobby that browsers should be aware of when browsing the selection. Zinnias, hydrangeas and roses are some of the more dependable species but if you don’t see these where you live, there are plenty more to choose from. Be on the lookout for wild sweet pea, lavender, catmint, peonies, sunflowers, sedum, nasturtiums and yarrow if you don’t have issues with serious allergies.  Types that may be difficult to remove along with possibly shortening their lifespan are poppies, morning glories, scabiosa and lantana so be aware of what makes a great clipping as opposed to a bad.

budget flowers

photo credit via aboutflowers.com

Once you spot something you like that will withstand the procedure, grab a good pair of sharp clipping shears and snip the stem at the base.  If it is attached to a larger limb, be sure not damage the existing plant so that another offshoot will grow in to replace the one you took. Small samples of flowers are perfectly okay to use in indoor arrangements but taking the base plant can end up killing the entire thing, allowing no growth to return at all.


The next step is to immediately pace the summer bouquet in a clean container of warm (not hot!) water.  If the vase you are using is a bit dusty and you want to give it a quick rinse before designing your flowers, be sure not to use soap that will cling to the edges.  The cleanser can kill off your blooms quicker than anything, which can act like a poison to the stem. Depending on the varieties you’ve chosen, you may have to change the water frequently to avoid buildup of murky liquid-a not so pretty presentation for the flowers you’ve collected.  Place in a warm to cool area that does not exceed temperatures past 70 degrees and enjoy the blooms for as long as they last!

Tags: Summer, July, Sunflowers

Old Wives Tales that Surround Myth Around Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jun 29, 2018

Old Wives Tales are fun.  They make us dive deep into our imagination and belief system, questioning realism against the possibility of magic.  I’ve always enjoyed listening to these stories, wondering which ones may have actually have a bit of truth lying at the center.  Do you hold your breath when going by a cemetery to ward off inhaling dead spirits? Or are you careful not to drop an umbrella in the house in fear a murder will soon follow?  These are two great examples of Wives Tales that people still might be weary to follow the rules of even though there is much doubt that they are actually true. We are funny in that respect; reacting to stories we hear, in fear of punishment when we disobey.  Old Wives Tales can touch upon millions of aspects and items within our lives such as broken clocks, cracked mirrors and black cats walking underneath ladders. Some bring good luck and some bring bad but when faced with a choice, most likely we comply in order to reach the favorable outcome.


I, being interested in this storytelling phenomenon, wondered if Old Wives Tales might include any tidbits about flowers?  Surprisingly during some recent research, I found quite a few that had to do with plant and flower varieties according to their planting, care and use.  Who knew picking a bloom from a certain species during a particular time of year could result in an early divorce or landscaping your house with specific buds could send omens for future home invasions and burglary?  Do these Old Wives Tales hold any water? Why don’t you read about them and decide for yourself!

peonies

Blinding Consequences for those who move Peonies

As we well know, peonies are a perennial that blooms in bush form from late May into early July (depending on the temperature).  What you may have not have known is that its bad luck to move a peony plant because you might have your eyes pecked out by sharp beaks.  Yes-that’s right! The peony is associated with the Greek God, Paeon who was a physician to the gods. The peony plant was his sacred flower so anyone found moving the root system was said to be attacked by violent birds.  I’d say it’s okay to move a peony if you really want to in the fall but maybe it’s also wise to make sure the birdies aren’t watching you while you do it?

Love and Dandelions

How many of you as young girls picked mature dandelions and blew their soft, white seeds in the air while making a wish?  It may be a memory that several of you share but did you know the number of breaths it takes to remove all of the white fluff can indicate how many years until the child will be married?  Five puffs= five years, ten puffs=ten years and twenty puffs could mean twenty years of waiting before walking down the aisle!

 

Flowers for the Ill

This is kind of a spooky one but many people believe that bringing white flowers into a home where a person is sickly will actually speed up their death date.  Creepy, huh? Varieties such as roses and ranunculus should be specifically avoided because as they come to the end of their lives, their head bends down much like an image of a person dying.  To stick on the safe side- bring a mixed bouquet of colorful blooms instead.

Tags: Peonies, Myths, Dandelions

Some Flowers Like It Hot

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 27, 2018


If you know a little about flowers, you’re well aware of the rules to follow if you want to make your centerpiece last:


  1. Clean Water
  2. Fresh Stem Cutting
  3. Quality Supplier
  4. Temperate Thermostat Conditions
tropcial_and_exotic_flowers-resized-172

The last one is particularly important, especially if you’re trying to pick up the perfect vase of blooms for a friend.  Living here in New England, there is a wide skew of preference for setting indoor temperatures, depending on both your internal comfort as well as the time of year.  While many of us do just fine in our homes setting the heater on 65 degrees, others like things to be just a tad bit warmer at 70-75 degrees. Here’s where we head for some trouble…  If you know the person you are gifting flowers to is habituating in conditions similar to Florida, then we need to select varieties based on that factor. Certain species have absolutely no shot at surviving in homes with heat standards hovering towards the tropics and will prove quite disappointing fairly soon after receiving the bouquet.  Don’t think about calling your florist to complain either because some of the responsibility to maintain healthy blooms should fall on you. Expecting a bunch of tulips to preserve its beauty in a space with temperatures held in the 80’s in just plain ludicrous so you’ll want to do a little research before sending fleurs to a loved one in a hospital (they are notoriously sweltering hot) or to a neighbor who likes to walk around in t-shirts in the middle of the winter.  


Don’t lose hope though…  Lucky for florists (and you), we’ve found plenty of species that are both stunning to gift as well as tough against typically undesirable locations.  While roses may not be the best option in cases like these, you’ll be happy to know there are a slew of others that are just as attractive to present to a family member or friend.  Jot down the names that appeal to you and ask a local florist about availability the next time you want to send flowers to someone with warmer weather condition preferences.


Do Ask For:

Orchids: Especially Phalaenopsis and James Story

Cymbidiums: Green do particularly well in the heat as long as they are fresh

Birds of Paradise: Native to the rain forest

Ginger and Protea

Succulents


Do Not Ask For:

Lily of the Valley

Sweet Pea

Garden Roses

Peonies

Ranunculus

Tags: Tropical Flowers, Orchids, Summer

Gemstones Matched with Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 20, 2018

Along with gardening, I’m a big book lover who enjoys reading anything from middle grade/YA to thrillers.  Recently, I began the novel, “Grump” by Liesl Shurtliff which gives the (fairly) true story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  Geared towards kids in grades 5-7, this fun and whimsical tale gives a new spin on what the real deal with the 7th dwarf really is.  Were they all kind and supportive of the little girl’s path towards becoming the “fairest of them all”, a title that would earn her the crown or did one of the tiny men have an agenda of their own?  There’s nothing better than a great fairytale but when you get a chance to see the story from a new perspective-it’s even more enjoyable.

grump novel

Now, if you’re interested in “Grump” then you’ll need to know the first basic trait of the dwarf.  Dwarves LOVE to eat gemstones! Diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires just scrape the surface of these creatures bountiful and VALUABLE preferred dinner menu.  Not only do they dine on only the finest of treasures but they are also consuming the powers that are present with the stone such as strength, purity, and cleverness.  As I was browsing all of the powers the gems possessed, it got me to thinking about the same ability many flowers also retain and the influence they have over those they surround.  Blossoms have their own magic to give others and can be closely related to these stones and maybe even put into similar categories. Here is a list where I’ve matched the gems mentioned in “Grump” with a blooming counterpart with similar properties.  Take a peek and see if one or both pairings matches your taste!


GEM           POWER            FLOWER

 Amber        Protection         Heather

Amethyst    Peace                Apple Blossom

Diamond     Strength            Gladiolus

Emerald       Intuition            Calla Lily

Opal            Creativity           Lupine

Pink Topaz   Optimism          Daffodils

Ruby             Long Life          Peach Blossom

Sapphire       Truth                Chrysanthemum

 

Tags: Childrens Book, Flower Meanings, Jewels

Still Trending This Summer - Succulents

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jun 18, 2018

If you’ve been following what’s trending in gardening news, you probably noticed that succulents are still one of the most requested plant species for at home gardens and summer events. These exotic and beautiful creatures have been implemented in everything from bridal centerpieces to patio potting, making them a popular purchase at local nurseries.  What exactly is the definition of a succulent? Succulent:  Succulent plants, also known as succulents, are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. The word "succulent" comes from the Latin word “sucus”, meaning juice, or sap (According to Wikipedia).  If you have a backyard soiree to host over the next few months, succulents might very well be your best friend when it comes to table arrangements and decor.  For reasons of cost effectiveness, versatility in shape, interesting texture and readily availability, most greenhouse, nursery and florists are now stocking up on this particular inventory throughout the whole year.  If you haven’t already experimented with succulents within your flower beds or deck window boxes, I’ll give you another reason for enticement…

succulents

Succulents are amazing in the fact that they are grown in many, many shades of color.  It is possible to find species in tones of red, orange, yellow, green, pink and purple so no matter what your preferred palette might be, there’s sure to be a plant in this family that will certainly please.  

 

Here are a few of my favorite breeds:

Hens and Chicks

Panda Plant

Jade Plant

Pincushion Cactus

Crown of Thorns

 

Fun Facts About Succulents:

 

  1. They originate from arid, dry climates so they need little water to survive.
  2. Succulent jewelry making is becoming a big thing in the arts community including necklaces and bracelets.
  3. Overall, succulents are pest resistant so they won’t get “buggy” like other varieties.
  4. They will weather well indoors once winter arrives in New England.
  5. Cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.  The “Christmas Cactus” is an example.

Tags: Summer, Trends, Succulents

Rejuvenating a Garden

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 13, 2018

Beginning a garden is a wonderful experience.  Tilling the soil, planting seeds, watering, loving and eventually- watching it grow can be one of the most magnificent experiences for a person.  There is a certain amount of affection and nurturing that flowers and vegetables need to be given in able to transform themselves into living, breathing ecosystems, which inevitably contribute a viable abundance of food and pleasure.  Wherever and whenever possible, gardens should be erected no matter what type of sun, soil or space is provided. By cultivating land into these magical, flourishing oases, life on earth would improve exponentially as we know it.

GARDEN CLEMATIS

So, what’s easier…  Starting your own garden or rejuvenating a new one?  The answer to this question is tricky. Depending on where you are and what is already provided for you, rejuvenating a piece of soil that’s once been used beforehand can be just as difficult as starting from scratch.  If the property is loaded with broken pots, planters and other unsightly growing apparatus, the space has to be cleared before you can even get a realistic vision of how you want to rebuild. That goes for old annuals that were never pulled from the ground before winterizing or perennials that don’t agree with your taste. Take day lilies for example… While they are a favorite to many, they can be toxic to beds due to the fact that they spread like wild fire and can take over plots quickly if they are not yanked and pulled back.  Again, it depends on what your taste is but pumping life back into a garden that has been abandoned can require some pretty heavy lifting. But I’ll tell you; if you have the time and patience, it’s worth the effort!


The truth is that any real gardener usually loves taking over an old and dwindling garden because:

  1. True farmers never let anything go to waste.
  2. The soil has been perused which means there is probably great nutrients in the ground, including the waste left by the previously planted plants.
  3. If there are any signs that perennials once existed, there is a chance they can be brought back to life so you might actually save money. If you have ever seen or read the movie/book, “The Secret Garden” you know what I’m talking about).
  4. You can continue someone else’s love affair with their garden-we growers are also hopeless romantics.
  5. Gardeners LOVE a good challenge!

What do you do if you have the opportunity and have no idea where to begin?  Here is a check list of all the things to be prepared for. You might be surprised how easy it is to get started!


  1. Clear the area of all pottery remnants, collect left behind salvageable tools and collect any other clutter artifacts.  Put them to the side and do not throw anything out until you are sure you have your plan mapped out. You’ll be surprised how much of it you may end up using.
  2. Churn the soil with a tiller or hand-held shovel depending on how large the plot is. You want to get to know your garden and what type of earth you will be dealing with.  Certain crops grow better in certain areas over others and you’ll want to figure out the acidity, moisture and composition as soon as you can.
  3. Take it easy the first year and start simple.  Add a few of your favorite perennials, locate old plantings that might have a little life still in them and focus on seeds that won’t cost an exorbitant amount of money.  It takes a while to get to know your garden and building a plot to what you want it to become is worth the patience. It’s like any other relationship-it takes time to figure out and appreciate one another.

Happy Gardening!

Tags: Gardening, Gardens, garden flowers, Clematis

Great Gift Ideas for Father's Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jun 11, 2018

IMG_3412-991348-edited-167883-edited

Across the United States, we will be celebrating a time old tradition of celebrating our fathers for everything they do.  Recognized on June 17, 2018, families everywhere will be doting on dad, trying to convey the message of thanks and love he so much deserves.  While some people have their own traditions that they stick to year in and year out (ties, chef’s apron and barbecue paraphernalia), others are always looking for fresh ideas in the gift department that might surprise the lucky recipient.  Father’s Day gifts can be a tough order to fill and many find themselves in a rut of gifting boring and useless presents that are really not needed. While a simple card does go miles in the recognition department, I understand this common conundrum and have therefore whipped up a list of items you may have never thought of in the past.  If you have a true winner that never fails-stick with it (no need to fix something that isn’t broken) but if you are chuck out of thoughts, maybe one of these Father’s Day presents might spark your interest? Remember, the most important present you can give any father is a phone call or visit but if you’d like to bump it up a notch, this list is worth the peruse!


Top Father’s Day Gifts for Dad



steak


  1. Gift Cards to his favorite store.
  2. A lunch out to his favorite restaurant.
  3. A New Grill
  4. A bouquet of Flowers (See previous blog).
  5. A date on the golfing green with his greatest kid.
  6. CAKE!  Chocolate covered mousse cake if you really want to dazzle him!
  7. Gardening supplies or perhaps his favorite plant to add to his bed.
  8. Shaving Kit
  9. Passes to a nearby car wash.  Dads love that sort of thing.
  10. A new board game you can play with one another.
  11. A DVD Box Set He Loves Watching
  12. A bottle of his favorite wine/a 6 pack of his favorite beer
  13. A select steak from a premium butcher
  14. A Fishing Pole
  15. Baseball Treasure Trading Coins

Tags: Father's Day, Steak, June, Baseball Treasure

Father's Day Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jun 08, 2018

It’s a wide misconception that flowers aren’t to be given to men but rather they are the ones to give this gift to women.  Who says a guy can’t enjoy a beautiful bouquet of blooms or appreciate a vase of seasonal sprigs? This is an old wives’ tale that has been believed by many for far too long and I say it’s high time we started changing the stigma.  Isn’t only fair that your favorite fella can peacefully enjoy a healthy relationship with fresh cut flowers? Father’s Day is the perfect place to begin focusing our efforts on maybe switching the tie he gets every year for an orchid plant or a bunch of sunflowers. The possibilities are endless and thankfully- Boston florists are readying their holiday displays for some fantastic options!  So, for this much-anticipated Sunday where we cherish deal old dad, think about presenting some of his favorite flowers that he can enjoy for himself. Stumped on what varieties and styles might work the best? Try this list to satisfy a sensational flowers Father’s Day gift!

fathers_day_gifts_boston-resized-600

Red is a major color associated with sending love to women but it also works nicely for men, too!  Particularly when talking about deeper shades of burgundy and wine, this palette is really attractive when creating more masculine styled pieces.  Take amaryllis for example. Grown in a long, strong and sleek appearance, this bloom is sensational for the “Manly Man” appeal and will fit wonderfully amongst décor that resides for a more masculine taste.


Interestingly enough, the shade, white is another go-to for whipping up attractive centerpieces for the masculine sex.  Clean, unfettered and simplistic varieties will dazzle him way beyond what your first expectations may be. Try varieties such as lilies, ranunculus and gerbera daisies, either mixed together or given as bunches by themselves alone.

blue roses-1

Blue is another way to go when searching for the perfect floral gift for dad because let’s face it-the male identity was raised on this hue starting at birth.  To tell you the truth-there’s really nothing wrong with that because now there are several varieties grown in this shade, which are suitable for this holiday. Blue hybrid delphinium, Bachelor Buttons and forget-me-nots make sweet gifts and present a sentimental thought.

Tags: Father's Day, Blue Roses, June

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