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Holding Onto Our Summer Flower Beds

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Aug 25, 2017

We are well into August now and I hate to tell you- but our flowerbeds are coming to an end for another year.  It’s sad, I know to see such a beautiful miracle of colorful blooms meet their demise when it seems like we’ve only just started to enjoy the warmer weather.  I personally get a little down when the new season shows signs of ascending down upon us and grow weary of the days ahead where my green thumb’s work will be buried underneath mounds of snow.  Yes, yes there’s always next year to look forward to but still- if you’re like me, the whole presumption can feel a bit depressing…

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It is for this unavoidable truth that I make sure to bask in the last weeks of summer gardening with feverish tenacity in the hopes that these memories might just carry me through yet another stormy New England winter.  Even though we can see the tall stalks of hollyhocks begin to bend and the heads of gigantic sunflowers withering their heads, we can still take it upon ourselves to do some last minute snipping, caring and tending for our beautiful flowers.  The generation of gorgeous blooms is a talent that shouldn’t be taken lightly so why should our determination to preserve these triumphants not be weighed as equally?  Just by completing a few final floral tasks, we cannot only savor the sweet success of the gardens we’ve created but also encourage next year’s harvest to be one that flourishes healthily.  Take a moment to see if you’ve made sure your garden remains in good hands for the colder temperatures and don’t forget to snap a couple of final pictures to last you until next April!


  1. Clean out all debris surrounding the plants to make spring-cleaning a little easier next April.  You’ll thank me later…
  2. If you have pine needles nearby, sprinkle some at the base of the plants.  If we have a frigid winter, your flowers will thank you for the extra blanket.
  3. Remove shoot perennials that have sprung from the master source to avoid unwanted spreading that might choke other root systems.
  4. Make a vase of cut flowers that are still blooming.  You might as well make a bouquet for yourself!

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, winter, August, Garden

Deadly Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jul 31, 2017

We’re always talking about the beauty of flowers but what if we took a second to analyze some of the deadliest flowers in the world?  Still stunning in their appearance, toxic blooms can be found growing all over our globe, just waiting to claim their next victim…  If you’re a person who likes to pick their own bouquets while walking in the woods, a little helpful information on the subject might really come in handy.  Even if your mother always taught you to never put anything near your mouth, particularly when it comes to treasures found in the forest, this list of highly poisonous plants can still infect a person just by the mere touch of their petals or stems.  If you were planning to hike this summer, it would be wise to steer clear of these deadly flowers to avoid harmful contact that might cause infection or even death.

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photo via wikipedia.org

Monkshood

You need to be aware of this variety of flora because although it originally harvested naturally in parts of Western Europe, the monkshood is popularly cultivated in our region for perennial gardens and landscaping.  It’s no wonder why due to its attractive characteristics of long sleek stems and beautiful purple blooms, which grow up and down the stalk.  I’ll warn you though, the monkshoods allure ends there because any contact with the florets at a minimum, can erupt in a case of increased hypertension or numbness of the fingers.  If you are less lucky, ingestion leads to almost certain death.

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photo via wikipedia.org

Castor Oil Plant “The Palm of Christ”

This may be the most deadly flower in the world since every inch of the specimen is lethal.  Having shiny leaves and heads that are referred to as “ticks” the flower grows as a perennial in countries such as India from July through October.  Ingestion of any part of this plant’s anatomy will give you a one-way ticket to an early grave, although a unique benefit exists in the plant’s leaves- castor oil.  Castor oil is made from the plant extract where it is used to treat burns, cuts and other flesh injuries.  The plant is also referred to as “The Palm of Christ” due to its biblical ties of healing Jesus’ hands.

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photo via wikipedia.org

Poison Hemlock

This one is tricky because the flower resembles some of my favorites like Queen Anne’s Lace and other similar members of the parsley family.  Naturally, it grows along the roadsides of Washington and is indeed extremely harmful if eaten or touched.  There are a wide array of symptoms including dizziness, swollen glands and nausea, which can be contracted from all parts of the plant.  Stay clear of those grown in direct sunlight because they are the most lethal in toxicity.  

Tags: Gardening, Garden, wild flowers, About Flowers

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

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