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An Excerpt from The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Jul 30, 2020

"Nature continues to take no notice of the imbecilities of mankind and despite even the bad weather the garden and the roses have never been so fine." - Louis Bromfield

Edith Wharton agreed. "Yes; the garden is the last moral life-preserver left, I pity those who haven't it." 

garden suzie canale

My wife Suzie's incredible backyard paradise.

Gardening like baking has experience a renaissance during the pandemic. In a disorderly world, your garden not only provides order but solace.

Grow your food, plant some herbs. Color in your world with vibrant blooms. Get dirty. Not all medicine comes in a pill.


Tags: Gardening, Books, Suzie Canale, Covid-19

What Do You Collect?

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Apr 20, 2020

When I was seven, my older brother brought home baseball cards. They came in packs with gum! Inside those little treasure chests, you might get Fred Lynn or Rick Burleson or the dreaded Bucky Dent. By the time I was fourteen, I had thousands of baseball cards. Like most kids, I put aside my collection for other pursuits.

As I have gotten older, I found those cards again. My mom did not throw them out. These cards bring me back in time. Each one is a little time capsule. As I try to refine my collection and make it more manageable, I still collect a few players like my friend Ted Lepcio and my childhood favorite, Carlton Fisk.

Carlton Fisk baseball cards

My wife Suzie collects many things too. She has a collection of antique buttons from her grandmother and antique books from her mom. She has collects hand blown glass vases. We visit the Delaware shore every summer. In Lewes, Suzie visits a boutique which sells hand blown glass vases. Each year bring a new color.

These vases are showcased in our home. With tulip season in full bloom, she carefully picks one off the shelf to frame the tulips. Each time she pulls down a vase, we are reminded of that vacation. 

vase collection

Collections have a way of grounding us and calming us down. They connect to other times and other places. Like Suzie's vases, my baseball cards each have a moment. 


Tags: Baseball, Books, Vases, Nostalgia

Summer Reading and Geraniums

Posted by Rick Canale on Tue, Aug 13, 2019

Catching up on reading in the summer is a favorite past time. While on vacation last week, I was reading The Stories of John Cheever. While reading the passage below, I had the good fortune of seeing this geranium beneath our balcony.



"Why does not everyone who can afford it have a geranium in his window? It is very cheap. Its cheapness is next to nothing if you raise it from seed or from a slip. It is a beauty and a companion. It sweetens the air, rejoices the eye, links you with nature and innocence, and is something to love. And if it cannot love you in return, it cannot hate you, it cannot utter a hateful thing even for your being the case, and living as it does purely to do you good and afford pleasure, how will you be able to neglect it? But pray, if you choose a geranium..." - John Cheever



Tags: Free Geraniums, Books, reading

Urban Flowers - a Book Review

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Oct 19, 2017

I’m an avid reader who loves books from genres such as Mystery, YA and Middle Grade but when a new release title about flowers or gardening catches my eye- I can’t resist browsing the pages.  Recently, I was in the library where I saw a beautiful cover put on display entitled, “Urban Flowers” that seemed to be creating quite a demand at circulation.  Written by Carolyn Dunster, this how-to seeks to educate the city dweller with ideas on designing the perfect patio garden no matter how small the area may be.  Patios, decks, balconies and tiny walk ways all have the opportunity to be transformed into luscious landscapes (according to this author) if you just have the inspiration and tips she provides.  Well this topic was right up my alley so I decided to look through the book for advice to pass on to those believing their space is too crammed to orchestrate a thriving flower bed!

urban flowers book.jpg

The first thing I noticed about this manual was how efficiently and effectively the chapters were organized.  Too often gardening books provide mashed up information where it’s hard to find the answers to questions you are seeking.  Dunster eliminates this problem by segmenting topics into easy-read fashion with contents entitled, “Evaluating Your space”, Choosing a Style” and “Experimenting with Colour”.  Within these segments, she breaks down the subject to include “Growing Therapeutic Flowers”, “Using Pots and Containers” and “Personalizing Your Space” which really helps readers to find the help they need to grow an individualized garden made specifically for them.  Not all of us have the same taste in flowers so it’s important to purchase the right supplies specific to you- a concept that is continuously stressed by the author.

If you have a hard time following lengthy instructions, you don’t have to worry because “Urban Gardens” reads more like a story than a technical guide that may leave you confused.  The descriptive phrases like, “You are effectively creating an extension of your home, while also making a green sanctuary where you can retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life,” not only will give you the confidence you need to begin but will also soothe you as if reading a work of fiction.  Another incentive to check out a copy are the glorious images captured by photographer, Jason Ingram who manages to beautifully illustrate “Urban Gardens” to resonate a fairytale.  

Tags: Books, Libraries, DIY, Lifestyle, Read

How to create a harry Potter Themed Wedding

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Mar 15, 2017

J.K. Rowling has become one of the most beloved authors of all time after her creation of the whimsical wizardry character, Harry Potter.  Throughout the series, the author managed to take her readers along for a wonderful ride filled with magic and adventure, making readers beg for more once the final chapter arrives.  Due to her genius of technique, Harry Potter has become more than a mere fictional fantasy and has transposed itself into a beloved phenomenon that reaches out to new fellowship every year including athletics, education and even fashion.

harry potter wedding.jpg

Mon Petit Studio / Via

One area that we are seeing an interesting realm of expansion is within the wedding scene where brides are requesting Hogwarts themed celebrations.  Including wardrobe, décor and even menu servings, wedding planners are now being challenged to re-create Rowling’s enchanting world that lies beyond platform 9 ¾’s.  While conservative critics snub their noses at this idea that shies away from traditional pastel florals, white gowns and typical matrimonial cuisine, others are ready for a change and diving in with both creative feet!  Are you curious as to how to accomplish this innovative magical illusion that focuses on the wizarding world?  Take a peek at some of these brilliant ways to transform your everyday wedding fete into something you and your guests will never forget!


This is pretty easy if you’ve read the books or seen the movies because all you have to do is replicate one of the Hogwart’s locations such as the dining hall, staircase or one of your favorite classroom areas.  Props can be simply made by covering books and labeling them with titles such as “Advanced Potions” or “Transifiguration Made Easy” and simple tea lights can be lit for illumination.  Place cards are another great bridal detail that can be set up to represent the different houses where guests will be sorted by table.  Make sure the linens match each section and add a bubbling flask filled with food coloring and dry ice to add effect.


Another super simple wedding feature that can be adapted to the theme are the flowers, which only have to be picked for their hues of red, blue, green and yellow.  Another option would be to place heavy gold and silver accents resonating the opulence and mystical feel of the story or making Paper Mache flowers out of old recycled books.  Containers should also reflect the motif, focusing on metallic shades or jewel-toned vases.  If you really want to get fancy, have your florists make gold colored balls filled with sprayed blossoms that symbolize Quidditch balls like the Quaffle, Bludgers and of course, the Golden Snitch.  


The bride and groom can have fun with their costuming by playing characters in the series, the two most popular couples being Ron and Hermione or Harry and Ginny.  Bridesmaids can wear different red, yellow, green and blue fabric dresses representing the different houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw) and the groomsmen can simply wear a tie which also color-coordinates in either solids or stripes.  

Tags: Books, Weddings, Childrens Book, Harry Potter

Great Book Reads About Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 09, 2016

If you share a love for both flowers and reading, you already know how fantastic it is to find a title that combines the two!  I’m not referring to gardening “How-To” manuals or floral designing guides but stories that are written to include themes and ideas related to blossoms.  Perhaps it’s a novel about an owner of a flower shop who falls in love with a customer or maybe even a “Who-Done –It?” about someone being poisoned by a lethal petal.  Whatever your tastes may be, there are a variety of options readily available from your local bookstore and library.


I know what you’re thinking… How do you know the page-turners from the duds when hunting for this particular type of novel?  Well, it just so happens that I recently found a list of recommended titles that are thematic of flower world and have reviewed as some of the best!  While you may enjoy one genre apposed to another, there are thousands to choose from which celebrate a passion for blooms penned after some of our most impressive literary talentsSo if you’re looking for a fabulous flower read, take a peek at these books for adults that have topped Boston florist’srecommended reading lists!


The Language of Flowers

By Vanessa Diffenbaugh


Victoria has always had trouble communicating with others but when she finds she has a gift of speaking through flowers, her world of possibilities change for the better.  Orphaned as a child, she discovers that she has the ability to improve others lives and circumstances just by giving them a particular variety of blossom.  Growing confident with her talents, she discovers her capabilities even when a stranger threatens to eradicate her ability forever.

pretty poison book.jpg 

Pretty Poison

By Joyce Lavene


Peggy adores her life as a florist and is excited to start the autumn season selling mums and other seasonal flowers.  Just as she unlocks the door to start a new day, she discovers a rich man bludgeoned to death by a shovel lying right in the middle of her fall display!  With time running out and a police station full of morons, Peggy takes it upon herself to crack the case and find the murderer before they find her! 


 Florist Grump

By Kate Collins


Abby Knight is a local florist with a passion for posies and pansies but when her housing situation goes belly up, she and new husband Marco are forced to live with her parents who make life difficult to say the least.  It’s not until an affluent member of the community daisy turns up “pushing daisies” that the newlyweds must find the killer before the killer finds them!

Tags: Language of Flowers, Books, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Libraries

Arrangements Thematic after Famous Children’s Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Aug 30, 2016

I work in the children’s department of a library here in Massachusetts where thousands of books holding wonderful plots and characters constantly inspire me.  I also used to work in a flower shop, which too, provoked me to come up with different ways to display and arrange a variety of flowers.  So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be neat if the two worlds could combine to make something really spectacular?


  photo credit via - pinterest Four Seasons Florist

\What if we took famous characters from well-known children’s titles and designed beautiful centerpieces and bouquets to mirror them?  Think about the conversations these presentations would encourage if they were used in libraries, youth events, schools or even kid’s birthday parties?  The idea has prospect doesn’t it?  Both fun and educational, flowers themed after juvenile literature can open the door to a whole new world of magical reading and floral appreciation.  Here are some of the best one’s I’ve seen so far from a few of my favorite picture books.

cat_and_the_hat_flowers.jpg photo credit -  A Touch of Class Florist and Gifts- Stockbridge, GA

Tags: Flower Arrangements, Books, Childrens Book, Kids, Libraries

Books in Bloom

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 29, 2016

There’s nothing like reading a good book but when you couple it with a beautiful flower arrangement, what could be better?  “Books in Bloom” is a new trend that is sweeping libraries, bookstores and flower shops throughout New England and is showing both flower and book lovers a clever and creative approach to combining the two things they love most in this world.  Perfect for display work or events, this interesting way to dress up a great story not only proves successful within increasing customer and patron visitation, but it can also initiate a positive marketing effect for book and floral sales.  Due the fact that merchandizing can become stale over time for both industries, this idea is a perfect way to amp up an organization’s style with an ingenious and imaginative fresh way to exhibit product lines.


photo credit: Flower Factor

So how exactly does it work?


Thanks to our city’s talented florists, designers are able to recreate a physical reflection of the content stored in some of our favorite titles by selecting particular varieties and showcasing them next to the book.  As patrons glance at the arrangement, their mind is believed to connect the pleasurable eye candy with the actual book, encouraging the reader to engage with the material at a more enjoyable level. The architecture of the floral pieces can be simple or elaborate depending on the details of where they are to be shown and props are encouraged to be included as well.  The great thing about “Books in Bloom” is that this concept works for both children and adult novels, making almost any book in a library you see possible to include within the presentation.  Of course certain titles work better than others such as “The Hungry Caterpillar” and the “Great Gatsby” so selecting the books should be carefully calculated beforehand.  


photo credit: via Flower Factor

By designing arrangements that mimic the essence of the media, we can foster a whole new level of appreciation for reading and foster a blossoming love for literature.  

Here are a few examples of my favorites!

Tags: Floral Design, Books, Childrens Book, Libraries, Flower Meanings

Winner of Best Manuscript at the New England Book Festival

Posted by Exotic Flowers on Wed, Jan 13, 2016

The New England Book Festival is held annually in Boston to recognize exceptional writing from both local and global talent.  Genres include poetry, fiction, non-fiction, children’s picture books, “how-to”, photography/art, wild card (anything goes), business, spiritual, young adult, gay, compilations/ anthologies, cookbooks and unpublished manuscripts.  Authors from around New England submit their work to be judged by a panel to compete for an award that consists of honorable mentions, runner-ups, winners or the overall grand prizewinner.  On December 31st, 2015, the list was revealed to see who would be receiving a plaque as well as an invitation for the special ceremony set to take place at the Omni Parker House sometime during the end of January.  


After scrolling down the list of titles and authors, we were pleasantly surprised to find our guest blogger, Suzie Canale included as the winner of the unpublished manuscript category!  Her title, “Camp Everdeen: Boys Will Be Boys”, is her latest work that was written for YA (Young Adult) readers, specifically in grades 3 to 5.  Although the story remains unpublished at this time, Suzie is hopeful that the book may spark interest now that it’s grabbing some industry attention.  Although it is her first attempt at writing outside of the children’s picture book genre, she says, “It won’t be the last…” The author who has won over a dozen awards in the last five years is already planning a sequel to the book where she derives ideas from her own past’s teenage goof-ups and drama.  The location of the story is also based on her real life experiences attending Jim Loscutoff’s “Camp Evergreen” located in Andover, Massachusetts.


If you would like a sneak peak at the plot, check out this brief synopsis, which will leave you wanting to read more!


Madeline Souza is excited to start her first year as a real Junior CIT at her favorite summer home away from home, Camp Everdeen and can’t wait to be reunited with her two best friends, Jamie and Laura.  Although she starts out believing that this will be the best eight weeks of her life, she soon finds disappointment when she’s put in charge of the worst cabin of boys on campus and paired with her arch nemesis, Jeff Larson.  As if the noise, mess and stink of caring for ten little monsters wasn’t bad enough, Laura’s crush on the tennis assistant, Sam Holden, gets sticky when a new beauty queen counselor enters the picture.  Madeline, Laura and Jamie won’t take matters lying down and decide to devise their own plans to revenge the boys of Camp Everdeen.

Tags: Books, Suzie Canale, #EXFL

2015’s Most Requested Christmas Picture Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 04, 2015

I love the holiday season and I appreciate all of the different decorations, lighting, snowfall and foods associated with this time of year.  Our brains actually recognize these as triggers, letting us know what we can expect.  When we see a pine tree on top of a car, we know that it will be soon be twinkling with ornaments and when we hear the jingle of bells, we know that Santa and his reindeer must be near.  We link these characteristics together as “hints” that Christmas time is approaching and we watch for more of these signals to guide us through the traditions and festivities.


For some kids, these “hints” are harder to connect to so they need a little help identifying special traits to let them learn how to react to special occasions.  A great way to do this is to find children’s picture books, which teach them about what a holiday means and how we celebrate them.  Stories are capable of connecting ideas when associated with indicators illustrated on the pages.  


Luckily, families will have a wide variety of new titles to choose from since this has been a very busy year of publishing Christmas themed books.  From picking out a wreath and tree to sending grandma a holiday card, you’ll be able to select any aspect you wish!  Vivid pictures, poetic phrases, funny storylines and magical adventures all await you so browse this list and find your perfect Christmas read!


Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Christmas, Kids, December

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