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Floral Attractions in New England

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 21, 2017


The weather is beautiful here in New England and we’re finally footloose and fancy free to travel to the destinations we’ve been longing to see throughout the dreary months of winter.  For some of you, it may be a resort or maybe a beach where you can swim the shores of our Atlantic Ocean.  For me, it’s the time of year where flower gardens are in full bloom, making a road trip to a floral destination sound extremely enticing.  Thankfully, this region is loaded with talented gardeners who harvest robust crops of floral masterpieces in july and August (if we’re lucky, maybe even September).  So if you’re a flower lover who might be interested in learning a thing or two from the aces in the trade, here’s a list to pin to your maps this summer!


Wellesley College Botanic Gardens

Wellesley College Botanic Gardens

106 Central Street

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photo credit via http://www.wellesley.edu

Wellesley is a beautiful town to visit, which is home to historic houses, a quaint shopping center and of course, the prestigious educational center of Wellesley College.  Although most of the students have left for the summer, this college gives you another reason to stick around and it’s all thanks to the beautiful botanical gardens thriving on the grounds.  Open daily with no charge to visit; this should be at the top of your list to visit this summer.


Fells Historic Estate and Gardens

Route 103A / P.O. Box 276

Newbury, NH, 03255

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photo credit via https://thefells.org/gardens-at-the-fells

If you’re a history buff, you’ll like this location because not only does it have some of the most beautiful gardens you will ever see, there is also a rich background tied to the property regarding the famous statesman, John Milton.  Along with stunning flowerbeds surrounding the property, you can also enjoy the wooded trails if you hike as a hobby.


Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum

101 Ferry Road / Route 114

Bristol, RI, 02809

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photo credit via: http://www.blithewold.org/

Also referred to as “An American Garden Treasure”, this location will have you saying “WOW” as soon as you get there.  One reason is due to their vast collection of plants and flowers, which range from exotic to romantic if you’re looking for some diversity in your travels...

Tags: Gardening, Flower Travel, New England, Gardens

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: Gardening, outdoors, Outdoor Living, Garden, DIY

What Does A Late Spring Mean For Your Garden?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Jun 13, 2017

Right about now, you’re noticing that things are starting to warm up a bit outside after a very long-too long cold season.  Yes, sadly New Englanders have had to wait well beyond the typical arrival date of spring due to a lingering winter, making us all wonder if we’ll be skipping the outdoor months altogether.  Some may even be a tad bit pessimistic about how long they’ll be able to enjoy their favorite activities, particularly those who are green thumb enthusiasts.  Since the northeastern state’s gardening season is fleeting already, I understand how important it is to get out there digging as soon as you can.  To say that the fifty-degree temperatures we experienced in April, May and June provided a substantial setback is an understatement but believe me when I say there’s still hope.

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By doing a little tweaking of your usual planting strategy, you can still harvest a gorgeous garden filled with beautiful flowers and delicious veggies.  Species that have fast germination periods are wonderful choices to rely heavily upon instead of putting all your prayers into slow growing plants.  For vegetables, try picking out seeds such as snap peas, lettuce and green beans- they’ll shoot right up after only a few days of temperate weather plus they usually prefer the cooler weather anyhow.  If you’re a stickler about planting only seeds instead of purchasing ready 6-pack trays from greenhouses, you may want to rethink your philosophy this year.  Even though it’s a lot more fun and cost effective to grow your own, plants like tomatoes and eggplant won't have any shot at all unless you started them indoors around the time of March.

 

Something else to think about since we are definitely seeing a pattern of later spring arrivals is the possibility of investing in raised beds.  Plants growing in above ground containment will likely have a warmer soil temperature, which will boost their growth earlier than what is planted straight in the ground.  If you’re worried about cost, you can build your own simply by using slats of wood that can be nailed together in either square or rectangular shapes.   Perennials in particular adore this type of growing atmosphere and typically will come back closer to their regular schedule.  

Tags: Gardening, New England, Spring, Vegetable Garden

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: Gardening, Outdoor Living, Garden, DIY

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

Memorial Day Inspired Floral Arrangements

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, May 18, 2017


Memorial Day is a HUGE holiday for floral celebration!  If you’re a gardener, it’s the weekend you start grazing over the selection from your favorite nurseries and if you’re a designer, well then you might be clipping the last of the lilac bushes to make spring arrangements.  Whichever category you fit in, there’s a ton of fun things you can do to celebrate your passion for flowers.  For me, I probably can be sized up as belonging to both genres, especially when it comes to my love for planning and up keeping my own perennial garden.  The beds have to be filled with dirt, the weeds have to be pulled and the returning plants have to be groomed for a successful arrival into a new season.  It’s a lot of work, I know but I can tell you first hand, it’s worth the effort.  Did you know that gardening can improve several different facets of your life including:

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  1. Physical Health 
  2. Mental Health 
  3. Outside Social Relationships
  4. Intelligence               
  5. Behavioral Aspects          

Those are some pretty great reasons to foster a hobby for cultivating plants and flowers!


If you are interested in floral arranging, Memorial Day also has some great opportunities to flex your creative muscles since New England native species should be up and blooming.  Bulb plants such as grape hyacinth, tulips and fritillaries make excellent additions to bud vases and nosegays while forsythia and other flowering branches make striking centerpieces when gathered in clumps together.  If you don’t find any of these plants growing nearby in your yard, now is an excellent time to visit a greenhouse and begin planting some of your favorites for next year!  This holiday inspires fantastic sales brought to you by those in horticulture business so be sure to check out your local deals!  

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Memorial Day, Gardening in Boston, Holidays

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, Garden, tools

April's Cool Weather Is Perfect for Pansies

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Apr 15, 2017

Spring is finally here and so isn’t the frenzy for pansies!  Pansies are the number one flower sold from garden centers and florists this time of year, particularly here in Boston where the weather can still be temperamental.  It’s not uncommon for New England to have an intermittent rough patch of chillier weather during the months of March and April (and perhaps even a touch of S-N-O-W) so this variety is the perfect fit to withstand these conditions.  Even though the pansy looks pretty delicate, the bloom is considered a “toughie” in the flower world due to the fact that they can withstand temperatures anywhere above twenty-six degrees Fahrenheit.  That means unless the ground freezes, your pansies have a fair shot at surviving because of their natural hardiness found in their stem and root system. Very few other flowers can perform as well making this breed a highly attractive and highly demanded plant.

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Another reason to invest in this species as your first springtime landscaping addition is their beautiful assortment of availability in color.  This blossom is readily sold in a spectrum of rainbow shades including straight and variegated tones.  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink-it’s all at your fingertips if you’re looking to match a certain shade to your home or simply desiring to create a potpourri assortment.  If you would like to browse some of the fancy flavors, here are a few to get you started!


Delta Pansies


Deltas are the most typical kind of pansy you’ll find in the northeast because they easily rebound off of difficult weather and also have the ability to overwinter in some regions.  These varieties also have a large face with over thirty colors and mixtures, which continue to grow year after year.  If you’re the impatient type, you’ll love Delta’s since they are the earliest bloomers out of any other subunit.  







Tags: Gardening, April, Spring, Pansies

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: Gardening, Seeds, Vegetable Garden, Garden

Climbing Flowers for Homes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Mar 02, 2017

Spring is right around the corner and that means summer gardening is soon to follow!  During the months of March and April, it’s still too cold to begin harvesting in the backyard but it is the perfect time to start planning for materials and other necessities you’ll need.   On your list, be sure to write down shovels, mulch, soil, plant food and any other gardening tools you prefer to use during the outdoor season, particularly the seeds you’ll want to start as soon as the weather warms.   Seeds are a wonderful way not only to save money but to also preoccupy the time before the earth thaws to a comfortable temperature.  Select any blooms that tickle your fancy and give them an early boost by planting them indoors, inside containers set by a window.  This will benefit your garden if we have a late spring arrival as well as spark their longevity once it’s time to re-pot to the outdoors.

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photo credit via Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

One area pre-started indoor seedlings can become extremely useful is when they are being implemented to scale the exterior of houses.  If you’re a fan of this landscaping style like I am, you’re probably already dreaming about the species of sensational blooms you intend to display.  Do you love Morning Glories or do you prefer purple clematis to scale your home’s architecture?  Believe it or not, there are millions of choices available to you and most are successful no matter what the material of your house is built out of.  So if you’re bored with simple side plots and window boxes as your main gardening project, take a look at these stunning species that make dynamic and romantic presentations when utilized as New England floral climbers.  


Morning Glories

Morning Glories are fantastic garden climbers and reproduce shoots quickly once they get going.  Their beautiful blue heads are shaped like trumpets and open and close from sunrise to nightfall.  They are typically annuals although they drop seeds and will re-generate the following summer so be sure you have a large enough space for them to grow maturely.  


Clematis

Clematis is usually a favorite of well-experienced gardeners because it is a colorful yet dependable plant to include in your flowerbeds.  Available in a wide array of hues, they are capable of climbing anywhere you train them to although they won’t multiply so they can live happily in a small area of land.


Nasturtium “Flame Thrower”

Nasturtiums are my number go-to when it comes to planting seeds because they are fiery in color and gorgeous when they begin to extend their tendrils, which clip onto whatever is closest.  Much like the Morning Glory, the heads are bell-like except the blooms stay open throughout the day.  


Trailing Sweet Pea

Another one of my beloved varieties is the Trailing Sweet Pea, which curls itself over other flowers it’s nearby with its delicate bending stems and foliage.  They are soft pedaled plants and will often disappear once the heat arrives from summer but they will make a massive impact on your gardening efforts from April to late June.

Tags: Gardening, Spring, Gardens, Nasturtiums, Gardner Museum

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