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Flower Bags Are All the Rage

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, May 30, 2018

f you’ve been perusing the nursery scenes lately, you might have seen a cool new way of growing and displaying your favorite blooming flowers.  Unlike other planters and pots filled to the brim with spring and summer blooms, there is an interesting method that clever gardeners have invented to optimize growing power while providing a dynamic presentation.  “Bag-a-Bloom is a funky container system that yes-is made out of plastic bag material. Usually fashioned in black or forest green, these interesting harvesting contraptions allows you to hang wherever there is a spot available.  Depending on the variety used to be planted, long cascades and tendrils can flourish down walls and posts, causing an optimal floral display for all who pass by. I’ve even seen these babies used by restaurants and hotels to create show stopping entryways for an ultimate ambiance splash.  For personal consumption, we can hang them on a hook outside front doors or place on gates, poles and trellis archways. Use your imagination when it comes to Bag-a-Bloom styling and here are some ideas to get those wheels turning!



Coleus is an awesome variety of foliage to add in this type of growing vessel because it will appreciate the heat generated within the plastic as well as enable to the roots to firmly situate themselves in the condensed soil.  This variety grows in a variety of colors including green, purple and even pink so the overall arrangement is tremendous no matter what type of coleus plants you choose. Conveniently, these flowering bags are only good for one season and since the coleus is an annual, you can just toss the whole thing out in the fall.  Remember to hang the bag in a brightly lit area with tons of sunlight and water frequently to keep the plant moist and continuously flowering.


Pansies are probably the top choice for bagged flowers because again, they are an annual that can be discarded at the end of the season plus they are a wonderful spreading décor to hang outside.  Impatiens are pretty tough in nature and don’t demand a lot of fussing over if you don’t have the hours to play full time gardener, which keep their demand high with good reasoning. With partial sun to shade flexibility, impatiens bags are a guaranteed winner for gifts or seasonal garnishing.


Yes-I know.  Tomatoes are not a flower but you’ll love growing your own juicy veggies all summer long with the convenience of no large garden patches to tend to.  Treating yourself to freshly made salads and other tomato based recipes will become a luxury I guarantee you’ll become accustomed to quite quickly! If you really want to see something spectacular, select a species that possesses long vines and watch a hanging garden appear right before your very eyes!

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Outdoor Living, Gardens

Why I Have Sun Parasol Mandevillas at Home

Posted by Rick Canale on Tue, Jul 25, 2017


My favorite to plant to bring home is the Sun Parasol Mandevilla. These have deep green foliage and grow vine like. I have three of these planters at my garage, another two at my front door, two hangers, three upright ones by my pool, another on my deck and yet another at the back door.


Aside from their striking beauty, these plants are so easy to care. They flower from May to November. They love the sun and they like to be on the dry side. Believe it or not, you can go away for the weekend and they do not die. Not many other deck plants can take that type of abuse. 


These two urns at my front door have been encouraged to grow wild and use no trellis or bamboo stakes to train the vines. Available at our Roslindale location, we offer many sizes in white, crimson, pink and yellow.


Tags: Garden Center, Gardening in Boston, Westwood, Garden, Mandevilla

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:

  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

Moving Mulch the Right Way

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 10, 2015


It’s that time of year and homeowners are knee deep in their mulching piles.  I know this part of our annual landscaping chores is not one of our favorites but there’s no denying the effect of this finisher around driveways, flowerbeds and backyard paths.  For a relatively cheap cost, we’re able to create a picture worthy display that will make the perfect summer Eden for you and your family. 


photo credit:

So why do we crab about mulch?  Because it’s heavy!  Those wood shavings weigh a ton after the first three wheel barrels and maybe we don’t readily excite about the tube of Bengay we’ll need to smooth out the sores. 


But here’s something you might not realize….


There are several tips that will keep you safe from tearing muscles or breaking your back!  Professional gardeners and landscapers possess the inside knowledge to keep you well exercised but unharmed from this grueling job.  Not only will you evade a trip to the ER but you might even see positive changes for conditioning your body including sculpted legs and arms.  See if what the experts say might assist you this spring while you shovel your yard to beauty!

  Stretching Before You Start                    

  Stretching before you begin to mulch the yard.           




                                                                    Listen To Your Body


If you start to feel intense pulling in your lower back-stop!  This is your body’s way of telling you to take a break before any further damage can occur.  After all, the mulch isn’t going anywhere so rest when you need to!

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston, exercise, Mulch

How to Jump Start Your Growing Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, May 14, 2015

I walked outside this morning and felt the warmth of the sun that is steadily indicating the summer growing season is near.  New Englanders understand this elation all to well since we patiently wait through six months of chilly weather until we can be reunited with our gardens.  It doesn’t seem fair that states such as Texas, Florida and California can pretty much tend to crops almost the entire year while we have to suffer the harshness of annual blustery winters. 


 garden_kidsOr is it? 

We northerners have managed to come up with a trick or two when it comes to stretching our growing period.  Professionals within the agricultural industry have passed on a few tips including the manipulation of imperative essentials such as temperature, fertilization, zone guidelines and light distribution.  It seems really complicating but by adding a few alterations to your anticipated gardening plans, you’ll be able to jumpstart your green thumbs at little extra cost. 


Starter Seedlings

Starting your seeds inside before the suggested date can not only add months to your hobby but also strengthen the specimen allowing it to become hardier and more resistant to environmental changes.  You can place seeds in special indoor pots sold by Home Depot and Lowes or simply use an empty egg carton.  Once the soil and seed have been prepared, place near a window with maximum sunlight.  If you’re worried about cold drafts, place a clear sheet of saran wrap over the containers, which will create a greenhouse effect.  Perfect starter seeds include peas, cucumbers, marigolds and tomatoes. 


Early Protection

If you have taken the leap and planted your goodies prior to recommended planting season, hopefully you have put them in a raised bed since the soil will warm faster than the earth beneath the ground.  Keep a steady eye on the weather forecast and if a frost pops up as a possibility, cover your plants with heavy plastic or tarp.  If the area is nestled within trees or a heavily shrub area, you might even be able to get away with laying newspaper on top, which will also keep them warmer. 



Now that we’ve talked about the preseason, how about we come up with something for the post season?  Pruning can add extra time to your favorite flowers once the fall threatens to retract their beauty.  Keeping the stocks strong can be done simply by taking off the dead heads of past blooms and shortening the length of the stem.  Water continuously and don’t forget to protect with a layer of plastic if the cold begins to creep in!

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, New England, Gardening in Boston

Songs to Sing to Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, May 12, 2015

Songs to Sing to Flowers


The other day I was thumbing through some books in the children’s department of our local public library.  As I was making my selections of Mo Willems and Eileen Christelow, the door to the story time room opened and a dozen or so smiling six year olds piled out holding their crafts of pea pod seeds planted in a Dixie cups.  Parents greeted their kids with “Wow, what did you make?” salutations and with heart felt appreciation, thanked the librarian who read books about gardens and then proceeded to teach the enthusiastic group how to grow their own.  Taken in by the pleasant commotion, I glanced over at the gleeful scene grinning at the fact that our library resources maintain the ability to not only encourage literacy and enrichment education programs but also provide the push for creativity.  That’s when I saw her, a little girl still standing inside the reading area, holding her cup and by the looks of it, whispering to the contents.  Compelled to learn more, I stepped closer for a better view when the group facilitator turned to me and said, “She’s singing to her plant!  Isn’t that amazing?”  Nodding my head, things got more interesting as another classmate joined her friend and also began humming a tune.  Pretty soon, children were gathering one by one and singing sweet notes to their projects with the intention that they would grow stronger and faster if encouraged with a hymn.


                                                photo credit: Flower Factor

That amazed me.


It wasn’t that the scene was just adorable to say the least but most of all, it was inspiring as well.  We have all heard the old wives tale about talking to our plants but what if there is actually truth to the suggestion that higher nurturing of our harvests really can be attained by human voice?  Maybe these small children were on to something?  If they are right, the power of music can in fact increase the viability of All living things.  Intrigued by this unfounded hypothesis, I searched to find the best songs for our kids to sing to their gardens, not only improving the plant’s prosperity but allowing our children to connect with nature in a whole new level.  I liked this one the best so give it a go and get your flowers blooming with music!


April Showers

To the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"


Dark clouds gather outside,

The wind begins blow,

A raindrop falls and then another --

April showers!


I am not afraid.

The rain is very good.

It softens the earth and helps the plants

Make May flowers.

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Music, Kids

Mother's Day Greenhouses in Massachusetts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, May 06, 2015

Looking at the calendar, I realized that Mother’s Day was soon approaching on May 10th and it was time to begin making plans for this year’s special day with mom!  Customarily we sit down beforehand and plan our annual route to one of our favorite places in the world, New England greenhouses!  The snow is just about gone around the yards and our flowerbeds can definitely be readied for plantings.  While April is the month to accomplish tasks of yard grooming, debris pick up and other landscaping chores, May is the month for the actual potting and replanting of the goodies being grown as we speak. Since the middle of Mother’s Day month hosts temperate night temperatures accommodating for successful spring growing, now’s the time to get shopping.  My mom and I know this green thumb standard inside and out and feel there is no other better way to celebrate Mother’s Day then picking out our first nursery beauties.  Whether you decide to visit the North Shore or South Shore farms and greenhouses, I can tell you throughout the years we’ve hit most of them and have found some gems.  Here are a few of our favorites that we would like to share with you this Mother’s Day!


North Shore                        mahoneys_garden_center                                           

Mahoney’s Garden Center

242 Cambridge Street

Winchester, MA 01890

Phone: (781) 729-5900


This operation has eight different locations across Massachusetts but I love the one located in Winchester, MA the most.  This family owned business covers everything including orchids, ground covering plants, perennials, annuals, tropical trees, ceramic pieces, patio furniture, vase ware and soil needs so it’s a real one stop shopping experience.  Other perks include ample parking, a rewards program and their own farm store with homegrown fruits, veggies and fresh baked goods.


South Shore                                     mothers_day_greenhouse

photo credit:

Kennedy’s Country Gardens

85 Chief Justice Cushing Hwy

Scituate, MA 02066



This was my flower haunt when I briefly lived in Scituate, MA that I really enjoyed.  What was great about this place was the assortment of product they had in a manageable area that allowed easy browsing and buying logistics.  They have a fabulous assortment of rose bushes as well as an adorable parrot located in their greenhouse who also greets customers as they enter and exit.  If you bring the kids, don’t forget to visit the Koi Pond where they can feed the fishes and enjoy the pretty view!

 Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA 


Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Boston Greenhouse, Holidays, #EXFL, Mothers Day

Gardening Calendar for May in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, May 01, 2015


Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston

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

Building Raised Beds for Your Garden

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Apr 17, 2015


I’m looking at the thermostat hanging on the deck and can’t believe my eyes…  It’s almost fifty degrees out in Boson and the sun is shining!  The change in weather is calling me to begin organizing my garden tools in the shed and plan my list for what I’ll need at the garden center.  Rakes, trowels, mulch and other odds and ends will have to be bought but this year due to all of the snow, I’m going to need to replace a few things in the yard.  One fixture that will be at the top of my spring chores is rebuilding the several raised beds that unfortunately couldn’t take the severe winter that just passed.  Pre-made box gardens can be extremely expensive and can range in cost anywhere from fifty to several hundred dollars.  For me, it’s just not worth the expense so I prefer to pick up a hammer and nail and create them myself. 


Without becoming anxious about the task, I’ll make sure that I design an accurate blueprint of what supplies will be needed and a clear list of steps for construction so I’m not wasting precious time that I could be spending elsewhere.   If you’re like me, you might be in the same predicament but don’t worry.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been a do-it-yourself kind of a person because there is an easy and affordable method that I’ve found.  See if this works for you, too and soon you’ll be planting and weeding before you know it!


                    photo credit:

Visit a trusted home improvement store in your area and grab a cart to make selection and transportation of the materials simpler.  To make one raised bed, find the lumber department and browse the different varieties of wood that are in stock.  Depending on your green thumb’s tenacity, pick a length that will suit your needs.  My previous boxes measured at eight feet long, which provided ample space for a large variety of flowers and vegetables.  The height of the lumber reached six inches that might seem too short but worked well once the soil was added.  The width of the wood was cut much shorter than the length, which was half in size at four feet.  The rectangular shape was perfect and enabled me to make a pretty pattern with three other boxes erected in a square allowing me to set up a table and chair in the center.  Now I bet your asking what type of wood should you buy?  Well, there are a lot of options including cedar, oak, pine and reclaimed wood.  Keep in mind that the price will fluctuate with the variety you choose so be sure to ask a salesperson what the total will be before you bring them to the register. 


Once you’ve bought your wood, take the pieces home and arrange them in the size and shape that you would like the beds to be in.  Then take a four-inch nail and attach the corners of the sides in a ninety-degree angle.  You will need two nails per corner, one for the top and one for the bottom.  Once they have been constructed, place in the location that you want them to be displayed.   After they have been filled with soil, you wont be able to move them so choose wisely.  The last step is to fill them with an earth friendly soil mix and begin planting!

Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA 

Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston, #EXFL

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