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Ten Thorny Flowers Worth Getting Pricked For

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 27, 2017

Dark Thorns

 

Darkness,

it seeps through every crack and corner,

gathers up your tears,

never lets you go.

On the other hand,

thorns may do the same,

but you can get past thorns…

 

By Adriana Wilson

Oct 30, 2015

 

In the flower world, there are a zillion different colors, textures, shapes and sizes that give every bloom their unique distinction among the others.  It is due to this fact that people are drawn to particular species which appeal to their personal tastes.  For example, those who are drawn to powerful aromas may opt for a bouquet of lilies while someone else might enjoy varieties that are architecturally interesting.  In this case, orchids would be an appropriate choice as well as tropical breeds like birds of paradise, heliconia and protea.  Whichever way you sway, there’s something for everyone within floral cultivation, even if you’re someone who likes a prickly assortment.

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Flowersthat produce thorns have always received a bad reputation and it is mainly due to the notion that they cause more pain than beauty.  While I admit I’ve had my fair share of “bites” from roses while on the design bench, I’ve learned that thorny blooms really do have a lot to offer.  Bright color, expansive heads and fascinating details make them a welcoming commodity to most importers around the world.  Mother Nature may have tested these varieties by gifting them with “handle with care” stems but the floral industry isn’t backing away.   By wearing appropriate gloves and learning a thing or two about texture and tone, designers are whipping up gorgeous arrangements using some of the prickliest species in existence!  Keep your eyes out for these featured florets that are popping up everywhere in 2017.  

Tags: Gardening, Roses, rose bush, thorns

Different Ways to Gift with Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 04, 2017

When we meet that special person, we often seek ways to impress him or her in order to show them how we feel.  Maybe it’s a dinner to a fancy restaurant or maybe it’s a Hallmark card that’s says just the right sentiment, but whatever we decide, we want it to be a perfect match for that individual.   If you’re a flower lover, you probably choose to send flowers that perhaps might consist of a dozen roses, a bouquet of favorite blossoms or even a single stem of buttercup or daisy.  Yes, flowers have been the most popular way to connect with a person and have continuously been an effective conduit to show them how you feel.  

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photo credit via aboutflowers.com

Here’s an idea… what if you could be a bit clever on how you gifted them? Instead of just wrapping up any old bunch of flowers, how about using your noggin to think of interesting ways to impress their unique sense of self?  What are their likes, dislikes, hobbies or dreams?  As soon as you figure that out, you can implement your creativeness to really give them something special!  No two people are the same and neither are two roses.  Here are a few ideas to get the wheels really turning towards impressing the love of your life!  


For Those Who Love to Bake

A colleague recently told me about this movie she watched where a baker was wooed with a case of “flour”-you know, the cooking kind?  I thought this was so brilliant and really showed his love for her individuality while still sticking to a traditional gesture.  By making a pun based on her occupation, he was able to connect with her in a deeper, more meaningful way as well as show a sense of humor.  Sure, she probably would have kissed the guy anyways if he handed over a pile of orchids, but the effect wouldn’t have been nearly as strong, nor would have been the scene.  If you’re trying to get a special baker’s attention, this might be the “sweetest” way to do it!

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For the Book Lover

If you’re trying to get the attention of a book lover, you’re going to have to use your head.  Although a vase full of wildflowers will surely be adored, why not pick out a few titles that are written about flowers instead?  You can either grab a few floral designing books, gardening manuals or even a novel such as, “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh or “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews if they like a good thriller.  Your courtship will be extra intellectually sentimental as well as useful reading material for the future!


For the Gardener

I personally love this approach because not only will a gardener appreciate the message but they’ll be extra excited to have a head start for planting.  Seeds that are the most thoughtful would either be varieties of their favorites or choosing perennials instead of annuals.  Perennials will come back year after year and will remind them of you each time they bloom.  

Tags: Gardening, cooking, Flowers, Gifts, book

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!

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  • 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

Closing Your Garden for Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Nov 04, 2016

We are well into the fall season and leaves are drifting to the ground right on cue.  Plants are a bit frozen, fruits and veggies are long gone and flowers are shriveled up tightly, which are all hints to us that the season for growing in New England is over.  In some parts of our state, you may have already seen snow (I shudder to thing).   For me, it’s a very disappointing next few months but accomplishing outdoor tasks are far from over.  There’s a lot to be done before next years cultivation of newly flourishing gardens and right now is the time to do it.  Last Sunday, I spent hours preparing raised beds and the surrounding grounds for a chilly winter freezing so that next spring, I’ll be raring to go out there! 

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The truth be told, many avid gardeners forgo the whole process of shutting down their green thumb efforts and decide to deal with the aftermath the following April.  I’ve been tempted to take the easier path and just skip the whole thing as well, but considering the time and extra cost I’ll have to succumb to, it’s really not the smart way to go about things.  The ordeal isn’t that bad once you’ve got a system going so in order to help you, I’ll pass along mine!  Before the weather turns to sub zero temps, consider these facts and easy care tips to maintain your gardens throughout the entire year.

 

Setbacks of Ignoring Winterization

 

  1. Leaving tools and ceramic pots outdoors during storms and frigid temperatures can damage and break these necessities we use throughout growing season.  Extra money will need to be spent on replacing what is lost and can incur considerable budget blunders. 

  2. The time wasted cleaning leftover plants that will not return for another year can take up valuable space in your garden planning.  Instead of starting off fresh with new additions, you’ll be stuck yanking roots systems that you’ll find trickier since they’ve been in the ground for over a year.

  3. Instead of emotions of happiness and elation we typically feel when celebrating a new gardening year, we can actually regress into anger and disappointment when we have to start spring with unrewarding work such as raking and weed removal.  We want to keep things positive, so make time in your schedule to things done!

  4. Let’s face it-when we haven’t done our job at the end of fall, things turn out to be much, much messier when the calendar flips to May.  Who wants to stare out the window and see dirty remnants of last years harvest when we could be gazing at sprigs of early pretty perennials?

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Fast Tips to Close Your Garden for the Season

 

  1. Anything that is fragile or breakable (including ornaments and containers) should be safely put away on “low” shelves within garages, storage sheds or greenhouses.  If we have a windy winter, you’ll be glad they’re not up high where they can fall down. 

  2. Remove all veggie, fruit and annual plants from beds because they will not re-grow next spring.  Keeping them planted past their prime can solidify their roots making it difficult to pull after a freeze. 

  3. Store any chemical products such as weed killer, turpentine or other gardening food in an airtight area to avoid possibility of fire.

  4. Place reusable items such as garden stakes, tomato cages and netting in dry areas of your home so that they can be utilized again.  Saving these materials not only will save you cash next year but also support “going green” which helps keep our environment healthy

 

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, winter, Gardens

A Floral Fantasy Tucked Inside Lovely, Ontario

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Oct 24, 2016

When you hear of a town named, “Lovely”, you might want to giggle to yourself.  You may envision pink houses with picket fences, perfectly mowed lawns or even a place that the temperature is always set at a perfect 71 degrees.  The picture that you’re seeing in your mind is probably leading you to believe that the town is completely fictitious but interestingly enough, it’s not.  Nestled safely in the banks of beautiful Canada, there is a place called “Lovely” and it holds reputable to the name it’s been given without a single fault.  

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Quaint and beautiful this tiny little area is nestled within Ontario, Canada’s suburban outskirts, which yields thousands upon thousands of tourists annually.  No, the weather may not be reflective of a continuous day in early summer (it’s Canada after all, it snows) but it is home to a lovely town, with lovely, shops, and lovely restaurants to coax just about anyone to give it a try.   This tiny town is so “Lovely” in fact, that it is a popular location for cinematic production including “The Ref” featuring Dennis Leary.  Yes, all of these assets make this the ideal place for a little getaway, but most of all, for those who love flowers.


For some mysterious reason, the townspeople of “Lovely” have made it their personal crusade to out beat any neighboring area when it comes to landscaping architecture and floral designing.  If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I might not believe it but when I say, “Wow”!  I mean it…


From the tops of the roofs, to outside window boxes and lantern posts, there are stunning baskets, arrangements, garden plantings, flower beds, loaded urns and thickly dressed pergolas designed to the nines with the most glorious flowers Canada has ever seen.  Lush greenery and blossoms popping with color spring from every direction as you stroll down the main street, which pulls you further inside the dream-like state “Lovely” has created.  It isn’t quite clear if there is a secret tribe of magical gardeners or perhaps a world-renowned society of floral designers who just happen to reside there but whatever the reason may be- the Town of Lovely is where you want to be.   


Take a look at these pictures I snapped while on my travels there and see if you’re just as amazed as we were with dramatic floral presence this community magnificently exudes!

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Bright flashes of color including foliage, perennials, annuals and tropicals cascade over everything, particularly in areas close to shops, restaurants, and boardwalks.

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Tags: Gardening, Flower Travel, Travel, Canada, Outdoor Planters

Autumn Greenhouse Growing

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Sep 24, 2016

Right about now our summer gardens are starting to bid their farewell as the vegetables finish up their final yield of crops and flowers bloom for the last time.  It certainly can be depressing but there are many ways to keep your green thumbs busy even if the weather is certainly changing towards the cooler temperatures.  There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t keep growing during the fall because with the right conditions and a positive attitude, anything is possible for New England’s challenging gardeners!  Whether you want to continue nurturing your cultivations outside or enjoy some of your favorite blossoms within your home, there are several ways to do so just by applying a little ingenuity.  Here are some helpful tips that will get you on your way to autumn gardening in Boston!


Indoor

If you’re looking to bring your flowers and vegetables indoors for the season, there are many varieties that can be successful options.  When speaking of flowers, your best bet is to dig up the annuals that you planted last spring and repot them in containers that are big enough to allow growth.  Varieties such as geraniums, begonias and cosmos typically move with ease and are durable with slight variations in their environment.  The more delicate buds such as nasturtiums are tricky but that doesn’t stop you from beginning over with seeds and starting from scratch.  

Vegetables are also not impossible to grow inside if you’re clever with what you select to harvest.  Good choices would include wax beans, peas, tomatoes and yes, even potatoes.  Grab an extra large bin, fill it with dirt and place a rooted spud inside.  If you’re patient, you’ll be able to see their foliage begin to grow and three months down the road, you’ll be able to dig up real, fresh potatoes of your own!

Things to keep in Mind: Make sure you choose a well-lit area that is close by a heater and water the same as you would during the summer.  Feeding your plants every now and again will also keep them healthy and who knows?  You might even get them to survive through the winter and into the spring when you can put them right back into the earth for another season of blooming.  

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Outdoor

Although most flowers flourish during June through August, there are species that won’t wilt or wither during September and October.  Depending on the weather pattern (a snowstorm will almost definitely ruin a fall gardening project), you can plant mums, asters and even start new seeds of sunflowers if the temperatures are right.  Morning Glories (which like the cooler air to sprout from) are also another option, particularly if you have access to a greenhouse.   

Vegetables happen to be a great thing to reap in gardens during this time of year and options include cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.  Kale, cabbage and lettuce will also thrive in autumn and also make lovely landscaping displays, which exhume a fun and festive presentation.  They enjoy the chill of autumn nights and the warmth that the days still hold so go nuts and re-plant your whole garden with these babies if you want to!  

Tags: Gardening, New England, Autumn, Fall, Greenhouse

Sunflower Picking in Massachusetts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Aug 08, 2016

I’ve always had a sweet spot for sunflowers in the summertime and clearly I’m not alone judging from the beautiful pictures I always see while scrolling down social media feeds.  Maybe it’s their happy faces or maybe it’s their colorful warm glow of yellow that triggers pleasant thoughts from onlookers.  For me, a sunflower’s simple elegance as it towers above all other flowers growing from the earth is what has kept this bloom my one my seasonal favorites.  

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The funny thing about sunflowers is that although they can be easily grown by seeds in a variety of different soil conditions, they are commonly threatened by wildlife such as chipmunks, rabbits and worst of all, woodchucks!  I have my own battles brewing in the yard against pests that bend the sunflowers stems until it snaps, allowing them easy access to the plant’s leaves.  Yes, you can attempt to stake the stalks but even that’s no sure fire way to ward of those horrible rodents from ruining your gardening efforts.  This year, I decided that I would try to out-seed the demand by growing three times the amount of sunflowers that I have in the past.  Right now, I have around ten sunflowers out of thirty looking hopeful but you never know when their number is up when it comes to critters.  After all, they have to eat too, right?

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So the better answer to enjoying these stunning summer blossom is to locate farms that professionally grow them, allowing you to not only view the sunflower fields but to also take a few stems home for yourself!  Typically, these are called flower-cutting farms where you bring or borrow a pair of clippers, tote a bucket and clip from their crops cultivated especially for this activity.  Make sure you ask what their rules are before cutting since many of these operations take the care of their harvest very seriously and what to ensure a long season of beauty for all.  


Interestingly, there are many places that offer this fun and memorable chance to clip sunflowers and here are a few that I’ve found to be wonderful so far!


Tangerini’s Farm         Indian Head Farm                  Land’s Sake Farm

 Spring Street                232 Pleasant Street                90 Wellesley Street

 Millis, Ma                       Berlin, MA                               Weston, Ma

Tags: Gardening, Suzie Canale, #EXFL, Sunflowers, DIY

Growing Vegetables in New England

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Our favorite blogger Suzie Canale takes us for a walk through her garden in Westwood. While being outside in the garden is great exercise and makes you feel better, the harvest from your vegetable garden makes it all worthwhile.

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Get an uo close look at healthy and energizing broccoli and cauliflower plants in the garden.

Tags: Gardening, Suzie Canale, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

A Walk in Suzie's Herb Garden

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Jun 20, 2016

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Our favorite blogger, Suzie Canale is an avid gardener. At her home in Westwood, Massachusetts Suzie has many raised beds featuring perennials, annuals, herbs and vegetables. She even has her own greenhouse. Suzie's blog posts often feature garden tips appropriate for experts and beginners.

Take a walk with her in this garden video.

 

Tags: Gardening, Suzie Canale, Westwood, herbs, Vegetable Garden, Perennials, Gardens

Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Garden for the Summer Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 15, 2016

Sometimes a garden can look pretty bleak when we begin to prepare for the summer season.  There is no color, the soil looks as if its evaporated into thin air and the idea of ever seeing beautiful plants once again flourish seems like an impossibility.  We all go through this in one way or another because if you’re a true New England gardener, you know that the winter is brutal on our beloved flower and vegetable beds.  It will take a little time to get things back into tip top shape but I assure you, the task doesn’t have to be as taxing as we make it out to be.  There are many ways that we can get the job done without having to spend months of our time breaking our backs or emptying our wallets.  This is a list of several tips that will get your green thumb growing in no time so you can spend your summer days doing exactly what you want to do, playing in your gardens!

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Tips to Shape Up Summer Gardens Fast


  1. You don’t always have to replace emptied raised beds with a ton of extra soil.  Sometimes the earth just needs a good toss and till to infuse the dirt with life after the colder months have past by.  Often freezing occurs which tricks the landscape into lying lower than it really is so pick up a shovel and do a little digging before you haul heavy bags of soil all over your lawn.

  1. Buy your seeds in advance from places like local hardware stores, Home Depot and Job Lot who often cut the prices once the summer has ended.  You’ll be able to stock up early as well as save a pretty penny on all the deals that you’ll find.  
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  1. Save old sheets and other fabric material that can be reused for purposes such as weed coverage or netting.  Many varieties of plants need extra protection from unwanted animals and bugs and these items are extremely helpful.  Labeled netting is often expensive and the supplies you may already have at home work just as well if not better so rummage through closets before you decide to buy anything.

  1. Save yourself the frustration of having to decipher what plant remnants are annuals and which are perennials by yanking out annuals as soon as the time has come to shut down your garden.  It can be wasteful when you discard plants that are able to bloom again if only given the time to rejuvenate.  If you really want to be economical, replant the annuals inside and see if you can weather them until the next summer!   This is how many of the pros do it and how many plant heirlooms are passed down through generations of family.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, Seeds, Gardens

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