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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

Memorial Day Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, May 24, 2015

 memorial day florist

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have lost their lives while fighting for our country.  It seeks to reiterate the importance of respecting these soldiers who left their families behind to travel to foreign places in search of defending all American life and both secure and preserve the gift of freedom and independence.  For many Bostonians, May 25th will be spent visiting the gravesites of loved ones and remembering the tremendous courage they possessed during their service.  Customarily, Memorial Day is a holiday where we gift those who passed with a bouquet of flowers, plants or flags placed on their tombstones.  While some are patriotically representative of a red, white and blue color palette, there has recently been a movement to change this traditional style.  I appreciate this combination but I can’t help but wonder what other designs might be possible for thanking our beloved troops?  What if there’s a way to perk up the Memorial Day sentiment with a twist of color and dynamic texture?  These are some of the new looks that are starting to pop up in floral shops across the city.

 memorial day florist

A spectrum of green has embellished several of the more popular Memorial Day arrangements, particularly for those who were members of the US Army.  While still holding onto the basic red, white and blue sheen, designers are finding that a few stems of lady’s mantle, octoberweed, and green berries help to materialize another level of depth within typically styled pieces.  This added shade not only blends the other three colors for a greater eye appeal but will also display a larger presence while incorporating a special sentimental theme. 


Since Memorial Day pieces are usually shades of the American flag, why not separate the pieces into beautiful bouquets of single color?  Have your florists make three separate arrangements of red roses, white hydrangea and blue delphinium to create a sophisticated presentation.  You can also request several smaller nosegays and allow each family member to place one each at the gravesite. 


Although there is a wide range of colors that can represent the topic of “honor”, there is considerable evidence that blue is the strongest tint to reflect this emotion.  Several people believe that while blue is certainly a beautiful color, there aren’t enough floral varieties to choose from.  The truth is, agriculturalists are breeding more and more hybrids because of the growing demand.  Delphinium is definitely one of the easiest to come by but asking for scabiosa, jasmine and bachelor buttons.  For those looking for a plant, several florists now carry philanopsis plants that have conveniently been dyed blue as well. 

Tags: Floral Design, Memorial Day, Flower Arrangements, Patriotic Flowers

Tri-Color Pasta Salad for Memorial Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Backyard Menus for Bostonians


Memorial Day is early this year, which will be celebrated on Monday, May 25th and many of us are beginning to plan our menus for a festive and delicious backyard meal!  Officially reserved to respect those who have lost their lives serving our country, this holiday is also associated with marking the first day of summer with a barbecue hosted for family and friends.  Boston grillers will be making quite a spark with their meat selections of beef, pork and chicken but many including myself get stumped on deciding the extras.  Most of the time, you’ll see long picnic tables filled with chips, dip, potato salad and coleslaw but what’s a girl to do when she wants to add a little something special to this year’s buffet?


Now we don’t have to go crazy with overwhelming hot sauces or exorbitantly priced marinades, I assure you.  We can put a little extra sizzle in our food without making unnecessary prep work or incurring ridiculous grocery bills.  The idea behind your meal should reflect simplicity and freshness since now is the time where local fruits and vegetables are becoming available.  Here’s what I’ve found for a yummy barbecue side dish that’s fun and easy to whip up in a jiff.   Don’t be afraid to improvise your own culinary preferences when trying it out on your own!


Tri Colored Pasta Salad

I love this dish and look forward to cooking a batch as soon as the weather warms up for summer.  The ingredients are easy to find, affordable and even healthy to boot! 


You’ll Need:

1 Box of Barilla Tri-Colored Rotini                         1 Large Yellow Onion

2 Large Ripe Red Tomatoes                                                3 TBSP of Olive Oil

1 Large Green Bell Pepper                                      ½ Cup Ken’s Italian Dressing

Salt/Pepper To Taste                                               1 TBSP Rosemary


In a pan with olive oil, sauté both the green pepper and yellow onion adding seasoning of salt and white pepper until softened.  Set the pan aside until cooled.  Cook the box of pasta according to the package and strain well with cold water until the noodles are cool.  Dice the two tomatoes and add to a bowl.  Add the room temperature contents of the sauté pan as well as the chilled pasta and mix well.  Next, spice it up with salt, pepper and rosemary along with the ½ cup of salad dressing.  Place in refrigerator for three hours before serving and enjoy a scrumptious and colorful dish perfect for celebrating Memorial Day!

Tags: Memorial Day, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living

Veterans Day Activities in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Veterans Day is a holiday marked to honor all of those who have served our country in the military forces.  Often confused with Memorial Day, which remembers all those who have died while in the service, November 11th is the federal holiday that marks the end of The Great War otherwise known as World War I.   Although the document that officially ended the battle, The Treaty of Versailles, wasn’t signed in France until seven months later on June 28, 1919, soldiers ceased their fighting on the 11th day of the 11th month on the 11th hour, thus becoming what we all celebrate as Veterans Day.  Around the country, United States citizens pay homage to the brave men and women who sacrifice themselves in complete totality by engaging in activities, events and honorariums to say their thanks in appreciation for everything that they do.  Among one of the most active demographics to participate within these celebrations are Bostonians who are particularly patriotic due to the rich history Bean Town possesses.  Here are some local events occurring within Massachusetts observing the Veterans Day holiday essence. 


Parades are a wonderful way to join with one another to lionize a special occasion and Boston just so happens to put on a remarkable show.  Beginning at 1pm at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Street, this eclectic group of marchers includes ROTC high school cadets, several military units and incredible bands blaring nationalistic music throughout the city.  Following only three minutes behind is the second parade segment marched by the “Veteran’s For Peace”, an organization dedicated towards advocating knowledge about the cost (financial, physical and mental) of war upon our country.  Filled with chants, speeches and colorful presentations, Boston’s Veteran’s Day Parade is one of the most reputable patriotic gatherings of the year.


Boston is also hosting a variety of special events including the “Women’s Veterans Appreciation Day” event located at the State House on 2014 November 6th, at 11 am.  Not only will families and friends gather to eat an exquisite brunch celebrating female military personnel but one will be awarded the Deborah Sampson Award in dedication of Massachusetts’ first female veteran.  “Back On My Feet Veteran’s Walk & Run” is another alternative where awareness and funds are raised to support returning military troops to deter homelessness and abandonment.  This wonderful cause takes place on the 11th of November at 6pm starting meeting at Government Center.   A third option to be included on your calendar is the “Habitat For Humanity Veterans Build”, a construction project supported by the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services to build homes for returning female soldiers.  And the best part about it?  You don’t have to have any previous architectural or contracting skills to join in!



Tags: Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Veterans, Politics

What Flowers Should I Bring to the Cemetery ?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

There are flowers for all occasions.  Some are happy, some are sad and some are given with the intent of remembrance.  During these times when we select pieces to honor those we have lost, many look for blooms, which reflect memories of their spirit, hoping to feel once again connected to those who are gone.  Memorial urns, cascades and plants are placed to signify our love and admiration at the sites of their burial for this reason.  We seek to select arrangements that will not only signify our emotion but also withstand the natural outdoor elements that are accustomed to cemeteries and graveyards.  How do we choose remembrance arrangements that are beautiful but will hold up for an elongated time outside?  Here are a few popular floral ideas that will satisfy both the demands of eye appeal and longevity for your loved ones memorial sites.


Long lasting flowers are some of the more popular choices for this type of occasion.  While no blossom is immune to death, there are varieties that will outlive some of the more delicate picks.  Lilies for example, are excellent because of the boldness of their flower’s head and their ability to last for longer than a week depending on the freshness of the stems.  Special species in the lily family, which make great solutions for memorial vases, are Asiatic lilies, known to be grown in bright colors as well as possess strong chutes enabling a longer length of service and calla lilies that boast an elegant white cone shaped face.  


Another type of flower high in demand by funeral specializing florists are in the tropical family with options of birds of paradise, ginger and dendrobium orchids.  Highly branded as strong and almost indestructible (again, make sure you are purchasing the products from a reputable wholesaler with high quality and fresh inventory), their durability and exotic presentation keep this variety on the most wanted list for this type of floral work.  Tropicals are easily mixed with one another and look favorably with other tropical greens including bamboo and hosta leaves.  Don’t be intimidated by a slight increase in cost, their beauty and perpetual ability to outlast other common stems of roses and carnations will leave funeral goers in awe of the design work.


You can’t talk about the options of memorial flowers without mentioning the use of silk flowers within this segment of the flower business.  Un-beloved by all, they do offer the indestructible feature of not being alive and the fact that contemporary manufacturers have made silks a lot more attractive and life like.  Varieties that have ranked among the higher desired for funeral pieces are oncidium, pussy willow and forsythia branches.  If you’re not a huge fan of this material, there is no law stopping designers from intertwining real flowers with the fake.  Peonies, iris and chrysanthemums can add an authentic appeal to urns when paired with quality silk accessories.  Onlookers will love the depth of color and be none the wiser that the piece contains faux stems of flowers. 

Whether you visit Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston to visit E.E. Cummings' grave  or Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park to visit Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's grave, make sure you bring flowers.


Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA

Suzie lives in Westwood, MA with her family. She works at the Westwood Public Library, has published four children's books and is the founder of the Women's Lockerroom Foundation.


Tags: Cemetery Flowers, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Funeral Flowers

Do you Grill or Barbecue ? by Jon Bornstein

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, May 22, 2014

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we embrace the holidays as a way to create memories and celebrate traditions. Flowers are always a big part of your celebrations, thank you. Memorial Day is a time for celebrating.

Read on for blogger and Boston flower buyer Jon Bornstein's take on grilling versus barbecuing.

Memorial Day Boston

So you think you know food, huh? Pride yourself on being able to differentiate between a Rib Eye and a Porterhouse? Aioli and Au Jus? Focaccia and fiddlehead? Impressive. Now that you’ve humbled me as an American and a food buff, maybe you can answer my favorite question on the cusp of the first long weekend of the summer – what’s the difference between grilling and barbeque?


This quandary has been on my mind as we roll into Memorial Day, a time that signifies many things to those of us fortunate enough to celebrate it. Perhaps most importantly, it is a time for us to reflect upon the sacrifices of our fellow Americans who have fallen in service to our country. Memorial Day also serves as the harbinger for a number of lesser events commonly associated with the warmer New England months. Academicians and their charges view the weekend as the beginning of summer break. Cinephiles welcome it as the start of the “tent pole” popcorn flick season (although the starting date for that seems to creep back earlier and earlier each year). Food-obsessed types like myself embrace it as open season on the outdoor grill.


Not that we diehards stop working our Webers when the weather turns cold and unpleasant. Working the grill is a year-round event for us. But the most glorious time to work the smoky hot space that a full grill top creates is when the thermometer heads north of 70 degrees and the icy sweat coming off a cold bottle of beer can cut a refreshing swath across your forehead.


So I repeat – do you know the difference between grilling and barbeque? I thought I did. Well, I pretty much did. But a recent demonstration at Le Cordon Blue institute in Cambridge by one of their talented chefs/instructors brought it all home for me, so let me do the same for you, just in case your sitting there wondering why I keep asking such an obvious question.


Grilling involves cooking something (be it meat, fish, chicken, or vegetable) by applying direct heat via flame, to the foodstuff in question through a grate. The significance of this is that most of us refer to this act as barbecuing, or having a barbecue, and as you will see, it’s not.


Barbeque is the process of slowly cooking food by applying heat indirectly via burning wood. This process can take up to 18 hours, and imbues the food in question with a smoky flavor and juicy tenderness as the long cooking time breaks down the fats and other components of the meat. Barbecue is truly an American style of cooking, and the way it varies from region to region is part of what makes it special.


Wherever you happen to be chowing down on ‘cue, be it somewhere in Texas, Memphis, the Carolinas, St. Louis, or Kansas City, you will be treated to completely different styles of eats. The sauce might be based around tomato, vinegar, or mustard. You might be eating beef brisket, pork ribs, or shoulder. Your meat may even have been seasoned with a dry rub and served with sauce on the side as opposed to being slathered by sauce directly.


The previously mentioned regions of the US view barbeque in the Northeast using the same lens that we New Englanders view college sports with – sure we’ve got it, and some of it is pretty damn good, but we don’t take it nearly as seriously as the rest of the country. And for a long time, they were right. But ‘cue is trending in this part of the country, and if you don’t believe me, ask anyone who’s been to The Smoke Shop at the Seaport or Sweet Cheeks in the Fenway. These places are popping up all over, and people who are serious about their smoke are putting them on the map.

blue ribbon bbq dedham


Two favorite long time denizens of the Boston area that I love who’ve been banging out quality ‘cue for quite some time. Any one of these three can walk you through all the styles I previously mentioned to satisfy both your intellectual curiosity and your hankering for something sweet, tender, and smoky.


1)      RedBones has been a fixture in Somerville’s eclectic Davis Square since 1987. Pumping out authentic bbq of all styles including jerk, the menu covers meat, chicken, fish, and vegetarian options, with numerous tasty sides and a handful of desserts to go with the two dozen microbrews on tap. Did I mention they also have a food truck?


2)      Blue Ribbon Barbeque is a multi-location operation whose longevity I’m not entirely sure of, but like Redbones, they do offer a variety of regional barbeque styles for your smoky flavor cravings. They do a nice job, and they’ve got four “Best of Boston’s” to prove it.


So do your patriotic duty this upcoming holiday weekend, and indulge in a truly American pastime by enjoying our native cuisine at one of the fine institutions listed above, or somewhere else you’ve been meaning to check out. And once you’ve done that, please don’t forget to report back! Did I mention this would also be a good opportunity to send flowers to someone you love?




Jon Bornstein Sandwich Guy Flower Buyer Follow Me On Twitter @Zucrow

Tags: Memorial Day, Traditions, Barbecue, Jon Bornstein, July 4th, Holiday Memories, cooking, Summer, July

Remembering Memorial Day in Boston Cemeteries with Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, May 19, 2014

Boston Cemetery FlowersIn Flanders Fields by Col. John McCrae, WWI Veteran

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Mattapan Grave FlowersThe First Official Memorial Day
May 30, 1868

Do you celebrate Memorial Day? In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the grand Army of the Republic issued what was called General Order Number 11, designating May 30 as a memorial day. He declared it to be "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."

In 2014, we often celebrate Memorial Day with cookouts and baseball games. As a local florist in Boston, Exotic Flowers and Lombardi Florist on American Legion Highway are surrounded by cemeteries; Saint Michael's Cemetery, Forest Hills Cemetery, Mount Hope Cemetery, Mount Calvary Cemetery, New Calvary Cemetery, Oak Lawn Cemetery. Fresh flowers and live blooming plants are an ideal way to show your deceased loved ones how much you miss you them.

At Exotic Flowers, we always suggest outdoor blooming plants like geraniums, marigolds and petunias. These plants require less care than other items and will often remain on the grave until Father's Day. If a local Boston cemetery allows planting, the Exotic Flowers staff will suggest planting your geranium so that your plant can flourish through the summer.

Fresh flowers for the graves are nice, but will often only last one day. Exotic Flowers in Boston carries disposable containers that stake into the ground. These aluminum can vases hold water and retail for only five dollars. Carnations are a great choice, because they even look alive when they are dead.

Memorial Day Flowers

Tags: Cemetery Flowers, Memorial Day, Flanders Field

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