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Exotic Flowers in Boston

Floral Centerpieces with Herbs

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Apr 11, 2018

As you may know, spring has had a slow start around here in the Boston area where snow banks are still noticeable even though winter is officially over.  For those of us who have fond remembrances of sprouts already greening our backyards at this time last year, the weather may be a bit depressing as we all steadily and patiently await its return.  While it may take a few more weeks to see hellebores bloom or a stock of delphinium to emerge, there are some species that are capable of defying the odds of Mother Nature… Not every New England perennial cowers away so easily, in fact you may have even spotted greenery popping up from the earth, clearly not being able to stall their regrowth any longer.  Which superhero variety of flora and fauna may I be referring to? The HERB family of course!


photo credit via Flower Factor

Herbs are far and away my most favorite crop to harvest in raised beds and here are the five reasons why:

  1. For the most part, herbs are hardy, which make them able to take a beating when it comes to a rough northeast winter season.
  2. Herbs are multi-purposeful.  They can be used in cooking, aromatherapy therapy, and several other useful medicinal areas.
  3. Many varieties of herbs bloom florets that look stunning in mixed arrangements.
  4. You don’t have to possess a green thumb to grow herbs.  Many species are pretty simple to plant and easy to take care of.  
  5. When all else in your garden is still decayed from the frost, the herbs will always lift your spirits by sprouting in late March to early April.

As I begin to sift through the leftover remnants of fall and winter, I’m starting to see some greens lift from the ground, mainly chive, thyme, lavender and rosemary.  This makes me smile because the first thought that comes to mind is dreaming about the lush and vibrant bouquet I’ll be able to make in the upcoming weeks. By this time, I’ll be able to utilize the pleasant smells and textures the herbs offer as either the primary bloom or as a foliage to tie the piece together.  Not only will the pretty leaves and blossoming heads dress my entire home with an appealing centerpiece, but the aroma will provide a crisp scent of spring that we are all waiting anxiously for.

Tags: Flower Arrangements, herbs, garden flowers

Plants That Make a Cat Go Wild

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 30, 2018

How many of you out there have a furry friend living at home who you would do absolutely anything to please?  “Cat People” are notorious for going to great lengths to pleasure their felines including buying them gourmet food, cashmere beds and even imported toys. Yes, the “cat craze” is one many of us experience as we welcome our favorite pets into our lives (myself included).  The companionship, laughs and an abundance of love given to us on their parts leave it no wonder why we make their happiness one of our top priorities.


Much like humans, cats have a propensity to become attracted to certain types of flora and fauna and for the most part, reap both physical and mental attributes just by being in their presence.  While it’s true we have to be cautious of exposing felines (or any animal for that matter) to dangerous specimens that might contain poison, there is a healthy list of plants and flowers that are encouraged by veterinarians to be a part of their everyday lives.  We’ve all heard that Catnip is preferred by many kitties and as long as the exposure is kept in moderation, they are enhanced by a natural “buzz”, which is nontoxic. Interestingly, Catnip is not the only plant that can affect a feline’s mental state in a positive manner as well as many others that can assist with proper digestion and other critical organ function.  If you have a kitty who you’re happy to oblige, take a look at this list of plants that can make your animal’s life even better than it already is now.

Sniff List

Dactylis Glomerata

Better known as “Cat Grass”, kitties love to brush their faces against the plant which soothes their nerves just by making contact.  It is also safe for them to ingest the blades of grass since they can actually help with a cat’s digestion of food. Don’t worry if they puke it up, it’s just nature’s way of cleaning out the bad to let in the good.  Also try Lemon Grass if Cat Grass is unavailable.


They say never to plant mint in the garden unless you want it to spread but your cat will thank you kindly if you provide a small patch for their entertainment.  Kitties love the smell of this plant and it’s not unusual to see them trying to hug bunches of leaves out of sheer pleasure.


There’s more to adore about this popular cooking spice now that both you and your cat can enjoy some mutual benefits!  The herb is jam packed with healthy vitamins such as Vitamin A and C and can increase immunity to infection and disease.

Tags: herbs, Pets, Cats

The Symbolic Meaning of Rosemary

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

Picking Rosemary

Blue flowered in the warm sun of winter

pungent fragrance wafts splendorous

smallish leaves, grow deeply green

with a sun-ward slant they lean

hum and sing with bees

reaching ever upward

wild, their fingers untamed…

By CA Guilfoyle


photo credit via

Out of all the herbs grown in my summer garden, rosemary is my favorite.  It may not look like much to most people but this bushy plant with bristled foliage is an asset to perfumeries, decorators and chefs everywhere!  The plant’s fragrance is its claim to fame since the needles are used to infuse scents found in shampoos, lotions, soaps and several aromatic healing elixirs.  The Queen of Hungry once believed that a drop of a tonic saturated in rosemary had been responsible for curing the pain of gout in her left foot.  The majority of practicing herbalists also state that it can be helpful with ailments associated with backaches, memory loss and also especially stress.  

Cooking with rosemary is also a treat since you can completely change the taste of a dish just by giving it a little seasoning of the pungent leaves.  Foods that react particularly well are lamb and mutton, making the meat flavorful with a delicious earthy essence.  Another way rosemary is used in the kitchen is by actually implementing the stem as a shish kabob for pork, chicken or whatever else you plan to throw on the grill.  By piercing the food through the pointed tip of the stick, flesh naturally becomes saturated by the marinade, hence morphing the barbecue into something indescribably out of this world.  

Although you may not have noticed, rosemary does grow a small purple or white flower towards the end of wintertime and because of this, the herb has become associated with its own symbolic floral meaning.  Love, lust, memory and mourning can all be argued as strong themes attached to the plant and are generally dependent upon the country or religion being talked about.  Also referred to as “dew from the seas” (because it was first discovered growing along hillsides close to the ocean), one explanation can be traced back to England where the plant was a sign for remembering the Virgin Mary.  In other cultures, blanches are used to cover aisles in churches to wish a newlywed luck during their ceremony.  In Spain, rosemary is dropped along the cathedral’s floor during Holy Week and in other parts of Europe; they are planted near tombs to honor the dead.  In Asia, rosemary is used as a medium for contacting the dead, so I guess it all depends on where you are to decipher the proper meaning of the herb.

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, herbs, Flower Meanings, Rosemary

A Walk in Suzie's Herb Garden

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Jun 20, 2016


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

Is it Time to Plant Yet ?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, May 24, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you could be a bit depressed by the lingering cooler weather that winter just refuses to pack up and leave with.  For weeks, we’ve been preparing our beds, weeding, reloading soil and getting our gardening tools in order but the frustration still burns with the question, ”Is it time to plant yet?”  The answer is well, sort of….  

Perennials can yes, absolutely be planted in the ground but as most of you know who have previously planted, you’ve already seen them making an appearance.  Flox was the first to arrive this year in my flower patch, followed by sedum and columbine. It was rather exciting to see something grow but it’s almost June right?  Shouldn’t the earth be covered in splendid color instead of the brown patches strewn across our lawns?  It’s known as a sluggish spring, which means that the nights are still too cold (not rising above 50 degrees) to place frost susceptible plants outdoors.  If you have a greenhouse, you’re all set.  If you don’t, your windowsills should still be hosting seedlings for another week or so.  Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and squash could still get nipped so stick to broccoli and cauliflower that can take the cold a little better than the others.  Snap peas are another great way to pass the time until things heat up because they take a bit to sprout.


Flowers are also something you want to be weary of before sticking them in the ground because although nurseries are carrying them now, it doesn’t mean they are ready for the great outdoors.  Many growers will harvest them in their nice warm greenhouses to get them ready for their customers but many are disappointed when they take them home and they die instantly.  In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, select springtime bulbs or species such as delphinium, lavender and rock flowers.  Not only will they pop a pretty color in your yard but they’ll return next year.  Stay away from geraniums, lantana and other “soft” blooms that need the temperature to rise above 60 in order to thrive and survive.  


I know it’s a lot to ask for but if we wait a little while longer, we’ll see a massive difference when it comes to our flower and vegetable gardens.  Happy Planting!

Now Later


      Snap Peas                       Geraniums

Sun Flower Seeds           Lantana

        Sedum         Cucumbers

        Lavender         Tomatoes

Tags: herbs, Vegetable Garden, Tomatoes, Garden, Gardens, May

Six Flowers That Will Make You Smarter

Posted by JessiRae P. on Mon, Mar 07, 2016

Want a quick way to boost your brainpower and memory retention? We’ve got six herbs for that. And guess what? You can use these natural brain boosting plants as fresh cut flowers, dried herbs, and essential oils.  




An age-old favorite of culinary artists, and kitchen go-ers everywhere: Rosemary. More than simply a redolent herb, rosemary has long been hailed to improve memory, focus, and concentration. Because essential oils in particular pass through the blood-brain barrier readily with absorption (the molecules of essential oils are super tiny!) they are the fastest acting, and most mobile solutions to wielding the plant kingdom for your purposes.

Simply inhaling the aroma of rosemary will help you focus and complete the task at hand with precision. Rosemary rouses a lassitude mind and prompts action where there is mental hesitation.




Coveted for eternal beauty and the symbol of love and passion, roses have a little known secret for sleeping doves: it makes them smarter.

Yes, you’re as cute as a dove.

Research shows when sleeping people are exposed to the scent of rose their memory improves. (Did you know working memory reigns supreme when it comes to improving cognitive aptitude?)

Oil diffusers with timers brimming with rose oil (and a mixture of water or carrier- don’t burn essential oils by themselves) will help get the job done. Conversely, you can introduce aromatic fresh flowers into your home. You may also opt for creating your own rose soap or lotion to carry the scent with you while sleeping.

It’s easy! Grab vegetable glycerin from your local craft store, or online, take a mold (I use muffin pans) follow the glycerin instructions, add rose essential oil, add rose petals, set, and you’re done! Now you can smell like a rose garden while you sleep and become smarter!

Herbal soaps? Super giftability.

I recommend adding the essential oils to ensure the scent is strong enough.

Ginkgo Biloba

Long hailed as the master of improving memory, countless studies have proved the efficacy of the benefits of ginkgo for the mind. Principally, ginko boosts our short term memory and improves our ability to process information. Interestingly, ginkgo helps our bodies improve blood circulation, delivering more oxygen to the brain.

Neat huh?

You can make a tea out of Ginkgo and drink it at the office, or while your in your home office planning the next big business to take the world by storm. You can opt to fill a vial of ginkgo essential oil and carry it around with you. Rub the oil onto your wrists, temples, and the bottoms of your feet.

When we apply oil (or anything, really) the substance is absorbed within a couple of minutes- sometimes instantly. (That should make you wary about stepping into cleaning products, or strange liquids.) You may also consider making a sachet of ginkgo for brain boosting on the go!

Combine any mixture of the herbs listed for an augmented effect.


Touted as a headache remedy, peppermint is being credited with improved cognitive performance. Peppermint is a stimulant, and helps us focus when our minds wander. Because the aroma of peppermint is so strong, you can literally put it in any form and benefit immediately. Soaps, lotions, oil blends, you’ll always be able to pick out its scent.

In addition to waking a sleepy brain, peppermint is great at bestowing energy, and is thought to power our creative and learning abilities. (Why not clean your paint brushes with peppermint oil? Or dab peppermint on your pens?)




Ever feel like you never want to go to work again, ever? I do all the time. But never fear, there’s basil for that! Eliminating (or at least improving) mental fatigue and focus is what basil is known for in the herbal world. The herb helps to improve memory, and if rubbed on a wound, serves as an effective antiseptic and antibacterial.                   

In a Nutshell

Use your newfound knowledge in any of the following ways:

  • Essential Oils

  • Herbs

  • Fresh Flowers

  • Herbal Soaps

  • Herb Satchels

  • Oil Diffusers

  • Teas

  • Massages

  • Potable Vials

  • Beauty Products (Facial scrubs, lotions, etc.)

Oils that Blend Well Together:

  • Basil & Rosemary

  • Peppermint & Basil

  • Rose & Lavender

  • jessirae.jpe

JessicaRae Pulver-Adell is the author of Holistic Healing for Addiction: Enlivening Body, Mind and Spirit to Remedy Depression, Anxiety and Self-Hate. JessiRae is a fulltime writer covering mental health and addiction & recovery. Follow her work on Harbor Village and her blog.

Tags: Flowers for Emotional Health, Roses, herbs

The Most Popular Late Summer Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Aug 24, 2015

Summer Loveliness

One of the most glorious aspects of summer are the beautiful blooms that reflect the very essence of the season.  Varieties tend to be fragrant, bright and silk textured making them high in demand for Boston party planners busy scheduling New England weddings and soirees. Centerpieces for these events often set the theme so it is of the utmost importance that the right texture, color and scent be utilized correctly.  Height and width of these pieces are also detrimental in pulling off the perfect summer look and consist in a wide array including low and dense designs to high and wispy.  Depending on the client, designers can materialize millions of different creations using the plants customary to the northeast region during this steamy fragment of the year.  From the Cape to the Vineyard, tourists and natives will be impressed by the efforts of some of Bean Town’s most stylish florists.  Here are some of my summer favorites that have graced the tables of fancy and not so fancy New England partygoers!

Simple Sunflowers

Sunflowers should be your number one consideration if you’re looking to put together something for August whether it is a casual gathering for barbecue or tea or formal cocktail party or matrimonial affair.  For one thing, they come in a variety of shades including brilliant yellow and sexy red.  You can even find some that have tones of greens where you can mix and match the different types to make a stunning yet natural allure.  Glass bubble bowls are just right to set off the cheery heads that wont distract with complicated shades and styles.  Hosts will also love the added bonus of affordability.  Remember, summer is about being easy going and fuss free so let your wallets take a vacation too!

Grandma’s Garden Roses

There is a short amount of time that we can enjoy New England’s native growth so take advantage of what we have to offer during the months of July and August.  My grandmother took extreme pride in her rose gardens, which only got more and more breath taking as the years rolled on.  Ask your florist for tea roses that not only reflect a sweet and dainty appeal, they also have an aroma that is sure to be a people pleaser.  There is no shortage of color selection either where you can pick deep shades of pink and red or soft tints of cream and baby yellow.  Another bonus of garden roses is that you don’t have to intermix them with several varieties of different flowers.  They are great on their own cut either low or high in large bunches.  

Lavender Loveliness

Lavender grows like weeds around the Boston area during the summertime and we are lucky because it is a fabulous plant to use either cut or in planters.  If you are having a luncheon for example, take a few sprigs and stick them inside the napkins for a nice added touch.  Boutonnières are another great way to show off this flowering herb and look lovely when paired with ivy geranium or nasturtiums (which by the way is another summer stunner).  Lavender can also be put in a vase by itself if they are arranged in large clumps with varying species.  Explore the English, French and ivy varieties that are available to you!


Tags: Garden Roses, herbs, Flowers, Summer, Sunflowers

Flower Infused Summer Cocktails

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 10, 2015

Flowers have long upheld their reputation of making beautiful displays within vase centerpieces, boutonnieres, hair accents, nosegays and eye appealing raised garden beds.  Boston florists have used their ingenuity to design wonderful arrangements utilizing texture, shape and color but now they’re getting even more ambitious when inventing new floral creations…


If chefs have been incorporating blossoms within their culinary efforts for decades, why not infuse the drink menu as well?


Industry professionals are finding that they can now increase their product demand by adding specialty summer drinks to their inventory segments!  It’s a contemporary suggestion but targeted demographics are actually surpassing their projected expectations by 50%.  The reasoning behind this lies in the appeal of adding bright shades to drinks that would otherwise be clear in appearance. Another explanation is due to the positive association that the brain makes between health, color and warmer weather elements.  The psychological attraction to this concept has allowed designers to indulge in their frisky creativity therefore inventing some of Boston’s most popular new seasonal refreshers.  Here is a sampling of this trendy way to fend off the summer heat waves!




Nasturtiums have been held in high esteem for their added excellence within recipes craving a peppery taste.  The beautiful orange, yellow, pink and red heads are also terrific in kicking up the taste of vodka once it’s had a chance to assimilate within the alcohol for a few weeks.  Serve at a dinner party to amp up the summer feel or simply keep it for yourself to enjoy on a hot and steamy day!





                                             photo credit:

Although a name says a lot, don’t count on it before you’ve tasted this delicious drink that has the herb, lavender, to thank for its sweetness.  You can place stems with attached heads in a variety of liquids including soda water, ginger ale or ice water.  Any variety will do but I prefer French lavender for the fresh and crisp accent it gives to my tea.            




                     photo credit:

These are so good I can barely stand it!  Traditional margaritas can be made playful by adding the blossoms of brightly colored hibiscus plants.  Not only do they electrify a dark pink color but they also radiate the summer spirit of fun in the sun!



Tags: Gardening, Chef, #EXFL, herbs, Outdoor Living

Garden Planning for 2015

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

As temperatures begin to rise here in Boston, gardeners are wondering what the next trends for group plantings will be this summer?  Window boxes, raised beds and patio pots are all part of your home’s landscaping design so be sure you are ready to plan an attractive design that properly accentuates your property.  Although these creations should show individuality to your tastes, experts have devised a framework to ensure your summer flower’s best performance efforts.  For instance, color, texture and size all effect the final presentation of the plants whether they are being hung from an arbor or rooted within a larger garden plot.  Other factors that are crucial to measure are the specimen’s longevity throughout the season and ability to acclimate in different weather patterns that we know makes New England gardening sometimes a challenge.  As I start to sift through seed catalogues and local nursery websites, I will try to keep these few suggestions in mind in order to build my successful raised garden beds this June. 


Its not always easy choosing the right flowers suitable to the areas those are available to you. Some varieties prefer moist soil while others desire a drier plot, which makes it crucial for you to read the care instructions before buying anything.  Don’t let desire get in the way of your selection process because no matter how much you love a perennial or annual, if you don’t have the proper environment for it to grow, the selection will fail to thrive.  In some circumstances you can manipulate the soil such as making wood or plastic draining containers where you can fill it with the proper material that will enable a wider variety of options for you.  In this case, its smart to get the opinion of a home improvement specialist or florist to help you decide on the material you’ll need for construction. 


Deciding your color palette is really important to pre-planning gardens because it will aid to avoiding an uncomfortable clash once the plants have been plotted.  You don’t want all of that hard work to go to waste on a messy arrangement that will be unattractive in your yard.  One way to develop a blueprint is to get out your paints and start trying out different shades and their combinations with others.  This will allow a large spectrum of diversity and you’ll be able to match most outcomes with the products your greenhouses will have available.  Years ago I met a floral designer who swore that adding white into a brightly mixed assortment of color only worked to separate the flow of the other flowers.  His advice was to keep whites in their own plot to ensure a visually stimulating and appealing presentation.  Other pros encourage a mass array of dark and light blossoms because it illuminates a spectacular burst of flowers, which is exactly what Mother Nature has offered to all of us!

 Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA


Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston, #EXFL, herbs, Arbor Day, Earth Day

The Best Floral Extracts Used to Heal Dry Skin

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 12, 2015

 The cold weather has fallen upon us and Boston is getting colder by the second!  Not only do we have to be mindful to wear extra clothing, bring extra safety precautions when traveling and be vigilant abut approaching storms, New Englanders also know that this is the time of year that we must protect our skin.  Ailments in this area arise from exposure to frigid outer elements that attack the surface and create sores, blemishes and painful chaffing.  Dermatologists recommend loading up on lotions, which heavily moisturize to prevent these serious medical conditions.   As a lover of flowers, how many of you know of the amazing healing properties that many blooms carry within their biological make up?  There are hundreds of flowers that are not only adequate but superior in proactive remedies for dry skin inflammations.  Derived from the powerful extracts of both the petals and stems, here are a few of the top flowers that might save you a trip to the doctor’s office this winter. 




Lavender is one of the widest used flowers for healing purposes because it contains a multitude of soothing and relaxing qualities.  Sometimes referred to as an herb, the stem is long and slender with small pods that look similar to a grape vine.  Lavender can be found in shades of dark purple to light blue and often grow wild in the New England area.  Having over 150 compounds, lavender can heal skin problems including eczema, burns, dry skin, eczema, sunburn, seborrhea and dry skin.




This traditional but stunning flower has a long history of protective and curing powers because of anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and antifungal features. It has been used for generations to mend severe burns, scrapes, insect bites and yes, dry skin.  Grown in colors ranging from orange to yellow, the calendula is sometimes affectionately called the “marigold” in some parts of the country.  The petals are also transient of the particular variety where they can be either flat or succulent.  The properties of the flower are so strong that extracts can either be made into lotions or ingested directly by boiling water and mixing in the petals.  One word to the wise, the safe approach is to buy the oil from a licensed herbologist instead of direct ingestion since there could be unforeseen insecticides or poisons used to grow the flowers.




Chamomile is a favorite amongst dermatologists for several reasons including its low rate of allergic reactions in patients, it’s anti-inflammatory agents and high product availability since it is grown widely in Asia, Europe and North America.  The flower’s appearance is delicate and natural, resembling the white daisy.   Although chamomile is white with a yellow center, the extract is tinted in a dark blue, which is easily mixed to provide cooling lotions.  The most popular types are German Chamomile and Russian Chamomile, the German being more astringent and more effective for healing skin irritations.  The flower contains the compound Azulene, the component that makes chamomile one of the top suggested medicinal extracts for those who suffer winter skin ailments. 

suzie_and_lance_canale Suzie and Lance Canale, Westwood, MA 2014

Suzie grows many of her own herbs and flowers in her garden in Westwood.

Tags: Flowers for Emotional Health, Flower Facts, herbs

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