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How to Make a Hand Tied Bouquet

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Jun 23, 2017

How often have you visited your local florist and been envious of the way they can whip up bouquets like there’s nothing to it?  So, you go home, snip a few blooms out of the garden and think you can make the identical replica no problem, right?  WRONG!  There is a skill associated with making hand held bouquets that requires an eye for color, taste and the ability to follow a process.  Yes, it’s true.  Anyone can learn if they have the patience and passion to work with flowers and you don’t need a horticultural degree to do it.  Let this guide lead you through the steps towards creating beautiful arrangements for your home and events without having them look disastrous.

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If you have a garden, particularly a perennial garden, you have a strong advantage from those who don’t because the product is waiting for you in your backyard.   If you don’t possess a green thumb, visit local farms that usually sell bundles of single variety blooms.  No matter what the temptation, stay out of your neighbor’s yard because it’s likely they won’t be pleased you’ve helped yourself to their hard earned harvested blossoms.  

 

When you’ve selected your stems, try to make choices that will allow you to make pretty contrasts between textures and colors.  Unless you’re using all of the same kind, mix spiky heads with wide faced petals and leafy foliage with simple greenery.  Do not overload the combination with too many things that just don’t go together.  If you want to play it safe, try arranging same shaded flowers instead of getting creative before you’re ready.  Learn the basics first.

 

Now that you’ve gathered all your flowers, it’s time to put them all together!  The trick to this is you want to slowly add stems to the bunch and turn the bouquet while you’re doing this.  That way, each side will balance allowing fewer holes and clumping.  Do not make it any bigger than what your hand can fit and tie a ribbon around the middle to finish it off.  Place in a vase or give as a gift to someone you love.  They’ll adore the thought and your floral efforts.

Tags: Bouquets, Wedding Flowers, DIY, DIY Brides, Garden

Is It the Dirt ? - Video

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Jun 22, 2017

 

Is it the flowers ?

Is it the dirt ?

Is it the hard work ?

It's all that.

when you are working outside and dirt weaves through your hands, your endorphins get going. Step outside and make your life better.

 

 

.

Tags: Outdoor Living, Garden, outdoors, DIY, Gardening

Garden Weddings

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jun 19, 2017

There are all sorts of themes available for Boston’s soon-to-be-brides, which appeal to a large spectrum of different tastes and preferences.  For example, for those who love sand and surf, a beach ceremony might be the right location for you to say your “I do’s” or if you are really into art, a museum would be a lovely option.  If you add a little imagination, you and your wedding planner can design the ideal place to hold this monumental occasion, particularly if you’re into beautiful flowers and gardens.  

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Awhile back, I had this friend who dedicated most of her spare time towards harvesting one of the most stunning perennial gardens I’ve ever seen.  She loved her beds so much in fact that when it was time for her to walk down the aisle, she asked if she could walk down the pathways of her garden instead.  The whole family adored her idea and with a bit of help from landscapers and florists, she made her dream come true.   

 

If you’re getting ready to place a veil on your head and are interested in learning how to create this look in the midst of your own green thumb efforts, here’s what you need to keep in mind…  It’s really important to select a date that’s appropriate for this sort of occasion.  I assume you would want plants in full bloom but this being New England, it can get tricky nailing down an exact pinpoint of when this will happen.  Spring is a fussy season that can bring bad weather like rain, sleet and even snow meaning you should try to lean towards the end of June or the beginning of July.  If your flowers are mostly annuals, head towards August because they’ll need more time in the sun to grow and expand if you’re looking to make a dramatic impact.  

 

The other thing you need to think ahead about is keeping your garden pruned so it keeps blooming.  Many species will wither away if not regularly kept up and maintained.  Keeping a pair of clipping shears is an excellent way to be reminded of this task.

 

The benefit of hosting a garden wedding is knowing the floral arrangements have already been taken care of leaving you without the expensive bills to pay later on after the honeymoon.  The simplicity is wonderful because all you have to do to design pretty table pieces is take a few snippings from your favorite blooms and place them delicately inside glass jars.  You can also utilize their ready availability by making them into wistful wildflower bouquets, too.  Delphinium, sunflowers, nasturtiums, sweet pea, hollyhock, zinnias, roses, hydrangea and sedum will all work wonders for your hand-held bundles.  

Tags: Garden, Wedding Flowers, Weddings, Planning a Wedding, Gardens

New Home, New Garden

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Jun 03, 2017

It’s typical this time of year in New England to see several houses for sale in your neighborhood.  During the months of June, July and August, this real estate market is in full swing, selling more homes than any other time of year.  It’s no mystery why since we’re more than likely to be covered in snow during the winter, which is not a great sales pitch for future buyers.  So if you are getting ready to buy a house in the Boston area, besides paying close attention to the condition of the roof and plumbing, make sure to inspect the grounds including lawn care, landscaping and most importantly – THE GARDEN!  

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You might think this is a small improvement you’ll have to make down the road, an issue that needs very little concern but I assure you it will save you time and money to investigate beforehand.  Renovating garden beds is a bigger job than you suspect and will absolutely affect the value of your property down the road.  I know… I know… you’d rather replace old furniture with new or perhaps blast out an outdated bathroom before getting your hands dirty in the backyard but the truth is-it’s the perfect place to start.  With a few tips on how to get going, you can whip up your surrounding outdoor area with little headache or worry.  Not a green thumb?  No sweat!  Follow these suggestions closely and you’ll be on your way to having an ideal spring and summer season both in and out of your new home.


Tips for New Homeowners Concerning Gardens, Lawn Care and Landscape:

  1. Take a look around and notice if there are a density of pine trees hovering over your lawn.  If there are, it’s likely that you’ll have trouble keeping a nice green patch growing and will need professional care down the road.  The reason is because the needles will drop, affecting the growth of healthy blades beneath so you might want to consider mulch or another attractive ground covering.  

  1. Landscaping is a tricky area of renovation because it relies a lot on the past owners taste and whether it is congruent to your own.  If they preferred large shrubs as opposed to flowering bushes like hydrangea, this might be an area where you’re going to have to invest some money.  Also watch out for large rocks that might be difficult to remove if you’re interested in another layout for your yard.  There are companies who will come out to lift and take them away but they are costly.
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  1.  Now for the area of grand discussion….THE GARDENS.  You’re in good shape if the previous gardeners liked their perennials because lucky for you-they come back every year bigger and better than before.  In this case, you’ll have to do an occasional weeding but for the most part, the hard work has been done for you.  If you’re working with a blank slate, that’s also fortunate since you can design the area with anything you like.  It’s your yard now, so go for it!  If the new property has old framework like rotting raised beds or other accessories you don’t want, get someone who can help you lug the stuff away and start fresh.  Try to salvage anything that might be reused, though because again, this can get costly.  

Tags: DIY, Outdoor Living, Garden, Gardening

New England’s Cutting Garden Flower Menu

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, May 26, 2017

If you like to garden, you already know there are several different types to grow, which are made to match our individual style and taste.  Based on your needs, preferences and land availability, there are a variety of selections to fill a space with vegetables/flowers, perennials, annuals, succulents, cacti or possibly a Zen garden.  If you’re a fan of putting fresh flowers in your home, you may even consider planting a “cutting garden” to suit your hobby!  I have been building this type of blooming patch for years and can tell you first hand there’s nothing like growing your own flowers for personal centerpiece arrangements.

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So what exactly is a “cutting garden”?  A “cutting garden” is a flowerbed that contains specific species that transfer well from soil to water.  They can be left to grow in the earth or cut to provide the owner with their beauty inside the home. Another property that allows a bloom to become a strong candidate for this type of garden is if the flower grows quickly since you’ll want to plant varieties that can replenish themselves instead of dying out.  A cutting garden isn’t very pretty when it becomes a graveyard of sliced foliage and stems so we need to make sure the plant has a decent rejuvenation system.  

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What kinds of flowers do the best in cutting gardens?  The good news is, you have a ton of options available so if you only want pink and blue flowers or wildflowers or blooms with large heads, it’s safe to say you’ll find them.  You can map out your plot anyway you’d like to but there are proven winners you should keep in mind if you’re new to this whole idea.  Fantastic examples suitable for the summer include sunflowers, october weed, delphinium, zinnias, gladiolas, ageratum, sweet pea, alliums, peonies, bachelor buttons, butterfly bush, hollyhocks, lupine, salvia, liatris, black-eyed susans and nasturtiums.  For an earlier spring garden, my advice would be to plant tulips, lily of the valley, hyacinth and fritillaries.  


Happy Gardening!

Tags: Garden, Perennials, DIY, Entertaining with Flowers

My Favorite Perennials

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, May 22, 2017

There’s a lot to love about summer.  The warm weather, beaches, swimming in the ocean and eating out on the back deck may be what comes to mind for you, when thinking about the arrival of the new season.  For me, it’s the time when I can enjoy the fruits of my gardening labors as last year’s blooms resurface once again.  It’s an exciting experience to watch the return of beautiful plants and flowers replenish my raised beds, almost always promising to grow bigger and stronger than the year before.  Since New England encountered a winter of heavy snow, which kept the ground moist during the chillier months, it’s a pretty good sign this summer’s offering will be impressive.  So what are my most favorite perennials I’m most anticipating within May and June?  Here are my top picks and information on how to grow them.

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Oriental poppies are one of those species that looks impressive no matter where you plant them.  They arrive early in late April when the feathery foliage begins to unfurl and the stem begins to sprout.  You’re going to have to wait for the temps to warm a bit before you see the silky petals make an appearance but when they do, it’s sure to be quite an inspiring presentation.


Hollyhocks are also one of those varieties I can’t get enough of, and even though I’ve planted more than a few, I can’t help adding additions each and every year.  The puffy blooms are stunning in mixed beds and fun to watch spike to heights sometimes towering over five feet tall!  Hollyhocks love nutritious soil and full sunlight, so be sure to plant them in open areas and remember to feed them occasionally.  

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When I was in the wholesale biz, my favorite import was always some variety of hybrid delphiniums.  The majestic stocks of blue, sapphire, white, pink, peach and mauve made such an impact on flower displays, I had to stuff my garden with several plantings.  Similar to the hollyhock in appearance, delphinium also prefers lots of light and performs exceptionally well in crowded beds.  Be on the lookout though for bees since they are also a favorite of the stinging insect.

Tags: Perennials, Hollyhock, Delphinium, Poppies, Garden, Gardening

What Are Healing Gardens

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, May 16, 2017

If you’ve ever visited one of our many impressive hospitals here in Boston, you may have noticed several have an area of the building, which facilitates an aura beyond what we traditionally recognize as “medicine”.   Healing gardens have become a popular asset to health care facilities around the country promoting the idea that green spaces can positively affect the outcome of a patient’s condition.  Typically located on rooftops of buildings, these areas often nourish lush plant life and flowers, offering visitors a chance to heal the body to relieve physical ailments.  These needs can be fostered through the spiritual, social, behavioral and psychological facets of an individual and have been known to be quite successful in boosting the overall positive energy in visitors.  

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Mass General Hospital Healing Garden - photo via C7A

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.

Interestingly enough, health agents have gone beyond simply setting up pretty gardens to gaze upon and instead have come up with an entirely new division of alternative therapy, which surrounds itself around the importance of growing.  As defined by the American Horticulture Therapy Association, “Horticulture Therapy is the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic goals.”  This practice may be experienced in a “sensory garden”, an alternative type of plant system that is designed to specifically affect the senses of taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.  Often, water features such as small waterfalls or running riverbeds are added amongst plants specifically chosen for their texture and aroma.  

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The Stoneman Healing Garden photo via crja.com

Luckily, Boston is loaded with healing gardens that have been of great assistance to hospital patients for some time now.  Facilities such as the Dana Farber, Mass General Hospital  and the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, Massachusetts are some of the most stunning examples we cherish in our city.  

Tags: Garden, Health, Flowers for Emotional Health, Boston

Proper Gardening Clothing and Safety Gear

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, May 10, 2017

Okay, okay…. I know you’re dying to get out into that backyard of yours and start digging now that the weather has warmed up a little but before we get started you need to be aware of some safety precautions first.  Many times, I have been guilty of becoming a little over zealous when it comes to my gardening and I sometimes forget how important it is to protect myself from nature’s elements.  Too many times, I’ve run outside without protecting the key areas of my body from burn, infection or bruising winding me up inside for a few days or worse-the doctors office.  Since gardening is many of our favorite pastimes, we wouldn’t want to ruin our good time and efforts by hurting ourselves in one of the many ways possible when we forget to plan ahead.  If you’re getting ready for a long season of digging in the dirt, take a look at these safety tips that will keep you healthy and happy through the warmer days ahead of you…

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The first thing you need to do is find an old pair of sweats or jeans that you can wear which will cover your legs and then grab a hat to protect yourself from the heat of the sun. Next, make sure to wear real gardening gloves and a durable pair of boots that will protect your feet from bites, grime and other unpleasant problems.


If you don’t already have a gardening bag, I highly suggest on picking one up at a gardening store or even HoMe Depot.  It’s an excellent way to stay organized by finding your tools when you need them but more importantly, it will keep them easily attainable avoiding mishaps and accidents.  Make sure that you place all sharp-sided blades down and be aware of anything that might catch or snare while carrying the bag with you.


I’m sure you already know this but it is imperative that gardeners take their skin safety seriously when spending time outdoors.  If you’ve already followed my clothing suggestions, then  you have a hat that will protect your head.  Be sure to also stop at CVS or Walgreens to purchase your seasonal sun block to cover arms as legs, too!

Tags: Gardening, tools, Garden

Seedling Discovery - Grow Something

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 10, 2017

Pre-spring preparations can be well underway and you don’t need to be outside to do it.  Certain seedlings can be grown right inside your home as long as you choose the right varieties and materials to support your green thumb efforts.  If you have kids, they’ll love this project since it will give them something to look forward to when the boredom of being locked inside gets the best of them.  


Follow these easy set up directions and begin sprouting your spring garden while the snow is still spread across the ground!

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When To Start:

This is a tricky question because the answer varies depending on the type of plant you’re wishing to grow.  For vegetables that take a really long time to mature such as peppers and tomatoes, you might want to begin at the middle to end of March.  For flowers such as morning glories that need less time to foster, try planting them in starter soil at the end of May to early June.  A good tip is to be sure to read the back of the seed packets for further information that will help you make the right timing decision.


What You’ll Need:

The best part of this project is that you need very few materials, which is both cost effective and convenient.  Grab these items at your local Home Depot or for those who are wise, dig them out of your potting shed to reuse from last year.


  1. A bag of soil
  2. Pots or starter seedling kits
  3. Seed packets
  4. Water
  5. A sunny window

How to Start:

  1. Place a seed in an inch and a half of dirt and make sure it is well covered with soil.
  2. Sprinkle the container with a small amount of water and be sure not to flood the pot.  They are only seedlings so it is very easy to over water and drown them out.
  3. Put the seedling next to a sunny window that allows ample light for growth potential.  Be sure that there is also enough heat and avoid areas with chilly drafts.  

Tags: Seeds, Garden, Gardening, Vegetable Garden

Easy Steps to Care for Your Hanging Plants

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Jun 11, 2016

Part of loving summer is being able to decorate the outdoor landscape with beautiful plants and flowers.  For many of us, this means long warm days spent weeding our gardens and filling up window boxes but for others who are looking for another way to enjoy seasonal flowers, you might want to consider hanging baskets.  Hanging baskets are a wonderful investment although many people shy away from this type of floral design because of the intimidation of care.  For some reason, flowering, cascading plants can look as though their maintenance might be overwhelming but in reality, they’re really quite simple as gardening tasks go.  You don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy these stunning presentations!  All you need to learn is this hanging plant care guide to get you on your way to displaying a decadent and bold array of color on the outside of your home.

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Care Guide Instructions


  1. One of the best reasons to grab a few hanging baskets is that they will last all summer long as apposed to perennials which make their entrance in spring and then slowly exit before the end of summer.  You can color coordinate with the paint on your house or even choose an eclectic palette that showcases many different colors.  Tell yourflorist or garden center the climate of your living space as well (Do you live by the beach?  Do you live in the city?), because these differences may affect the variety of species in your basket.  Some varieties do better in the salt air as other types do better inside steamier humid conditions.  

  1. Before you go out and buy a hanging planter, find an area that you’ll be able to install a sturdy piece of hardware to hold it intact (some hangers are very heavy) and a place where there is a lot of sunlight.  Most people like to display them right outside their front doors but if there isn’t a lot of sunlight, you might want to rethink your decision.  Flowers need light to thrive and survive so the position of the planter is going to make a huge difference on how the flowers perform throughout the summer.

  1. WATER!!!!!!!  Yes, watering is the single most important thing to do when you hang a planter because they are constantly seeking moisture since there is no saucer to contain it.  Take a pitcher of water and dump it directly into the soil and if the dirt feels extra dry?  Water it again!  The single most cause for the death amongst flowering hangers is dehydration so make sure it is done daily.

  1. A little nip and tuck of the dead blooms ensures that the flowers keep blooming throughout the entire season.  Don’t worry if you’ve trimmed back the plant slightly too much because I assure you, they love “haircuts” that keep its system healthy and continuously producing blossoms.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, June, Garden

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