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The History of the Shamrock

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 02, 2018

March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day and people all over this city are getting ready to show their Irish pride!  While there are sure to be events celebrated all over Boston with green beer free flowing everywhere, I think it’s important to take the time to acknowledge the history behind the four leaf clover.  As a floral professional, I can’t tell you how many requests we receive for potted plants of clover or specialized flower arrangements with hints of the greenery slipped here and there amongst the blooms.  Clovers are a huge part of the Saint Patty’s Day tradition so let’s do a little research to find out exactly why we go crazy over these tiny florets every March.  


photo via Rittners School of Floral Design, Boston MA

The origin of the shamrock really does have interesting roots once you start digging since it was primarily used by Saint Patrick to introduce the religion of Christianity into Ireland.  He chose the sprig as a symbol of this faith because of the three leaves which he believed was a sign of the Holy Trinity.  Because its three leaf shape, it was also valuable due to the fact that the number “three” was held as an omen of good fortune even though we associate a 4-leaf clover as the one holding all the luck.  As time wore on, the cloves were actually seen for a brief period of time as meaning a sign of rebellion.  If you were caught wearing any evidence of the plant, you were immediately considered any enemy to the state.  This belief did not last long thankfully, and eventually returned as a sign of spring, luck and Irish pride.


photo via

Today, shamrocks are recognized all over the world and not just on our beloved Saint Patrick’s Day.  No matter what your religion or origin, millions of people search each year in the hopes of finding a four-leaf clover, although a three-leaf clover brings good tidings, too.  Standing for love, hope and faith (in the case when a fourth leaf is found-God), this tiny treasure is Mother Nature’s gift to the adventurous heart who seeks out the magic of the petals growing across green countryside.  If you do not have access to a blooming lea, supermarkets often carry pots of clover during the months of February through April at an inexpensive cost.  For those who enjoy growing their own, you’ll be happy to know that shamrocks (or otherwise known as Oxalis) are perennials which bloom every year as a ground cover.  Many of which are planted as a bulb, the best places to start your own crop are nearby garden edgings or rock formations.

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, St Patrick's Day Flowers, Traditions, Saint Patricks Day, March

Saint Patrick's Day Flower Arrangements

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Mar 13, 2017

In a couple of weeks, my favorite holiday of the year will be here; a day filled with celebration, joyous friendship and an awful lot of hope for LUCK!  Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17th and although the festivities originated in Ireland to honor the death of Saint Patrick himself in AD 385–461, you don’t have to be Irish to scream “Erin Go Bragh!” when the occasion arises.  For many of us Bostonians who are fans of cabbage dinner, dancing a jig and finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we’re looking forward to this special day and are planning to whoop it up in some way or another.


For college students, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll be filling the pubs to toast the holiday but for others who might enjoy a close get together; they’ll need to come up with a lively menu as well as decorations.  The food’s the simple part since you should be leaning towards traditional feasts of corn beef and root vegetables.  Accessories such as green and white streamers, faux pieces of gold and paper clovers to hang on the wall are also pretty s standard and available at local party store outlets.  The tricky part, on the other hand, will be the selection of flowers for your serving table and hosting area where guests will be entertained.  Don’t think for a second this is a minor detail that can be cut from the budget to save a buck because they’re actually extremely significant to Irish customary rituals associated with St. Patrick’s Day.  


amrock is the national emblem and flower of this European country and it’s stunning foliage of leafy green hearts make it the perfect bloom to incorporate within arrangements.  Not only is the small bud delicately beautiful in appearance, but the 4-leaf clover also symbolizes hope, faith, love and luck.  You can utilize this fact by gifting guests with small pots of clover as party favors.  Other varieties that are perfect for your March soiree are Bells of Ireland, Green Goddess Callas and green roses, which are readily available during this time of year from florists.  You might want to also think “blue” as a possibility since this was the original color representing this annual celebration.  Species such as blue delphinium, bachelor buttons, scabiosa and iris are splendid options that will bring authenticity to your bouquets as well as add a brilliant and fun pop of color.   

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Green Carnations, Holidays, Saint Patricks Day, March

Shades of Green Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Mar 03, 2016

The month of March is a special time of year for New Englanders because (if we’re lucky) spring is right around the corner.  It’s the season for rebirth when the soil turns soft and warm allowing new life to begin as the bitter coldness of winter slows ebbs away.  For Boston florists, this means it’s time to change up their product inventory with a fresh palette of color that mirrors this theme of growth and renewal.  Typically, you’ll find that there is a strong influence of peach, pink and lavender that infiltrates arrangements as well as flowers belonging to the pastel side of the spectrum.  What is interesting about the color transition is that more than half of the pieces designed include a heavy presence of green, which is otherwise infrequently utilized as often in other traditional design templates.  In the floral industry (and many others) the pigment green is symbolic towards expressing life and youth, a combination that we look forward to each year when March returns.



Since we are quickly approaching spring in Boston, it’s important to begin planning our list of flowers that yield the shade of green so that we are suitably prepared for the exciting adaptation.  Do any blossoms come to mind?



Be honest… Who of you instantly thought of green carnations?  Believe it or not, there are other options available to you besides the infamous Saint Patrick’s Day bloom.   There’s nothing wrong with being impartial to this variety but you should be made aware that several different species exist that develop in a beautiful array of brilliant to soft greens within their petals.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Saint Patricks Day, March

Popular St. Patrick's Day Traditions

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

Saint Patrick’s Day is on March 17th (which falls on a Thursday this year), a holiday long associated with luck, fun and Irish tradition.  Customarily, Boston is just the place to celebrate the festivities, often hosting thousands of visitors who sit, drink and be merry within one of our many local pubs.  Granted, the green beer is fun but did you know that alcohol was originally banned on the holiday, forcing restaurants and bars to be closed? This is just one example of the trivia and customs associated with Saint Patrick’s Day that few even know about.  Test your Irish history and see if you’re aware of these true facts about an authentic Saint Patrick’s Day celebration!


  1. Saint Patrick was not from Ireland, as many believe.  He was originally born in England and was captured, then enslaved to Ireland as a sheepherder. Once he escaped, he returned home to become a priest and then travelled back to Ireland to pass on his teachings.  

  1. The story about Saint Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland is almost impossible to be true according to experts from National Geographic.       These slithery critters are almost never seen in this area because the geographical composition is post glacier.   

  1. The official Irish color is not green but is in fact BLUE!  Most of Ireland is not as lush as most people believe accept for the Emerald Isle.  The blue is significant because it is the shade featured in many of the country’s flags.GREEN_ROSES.jpg

  1. Even though the four-leaf clover is a wonderful find since they are extremely rare, they are often misconceived as the country’s symbol.  The harp is actually the official logo of Ireland, although clovers remain the more popular notion.

  1. Corned beef and cabbage might be the sought after dish on the menu this holiday but did you know that bacon was actually the original protein cooked during this holiday?  Because many settlers who came to America could afford so little, this inevitably led to a substitution using a cheaper product than pork.  

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Traditions, Holidays, Saint Patricks Day, March

Where to Find a Leprechaun

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Mar 14, 2015

Saint Patrick’s Day is quickly approaching and my son is already becoming excited with the hope that he might be able to catch a Leprechaun, a tradition which he attempts every year.   The fascinations surrounding these miniature faeries of Irish folklore have been cultivated and celebrated for generations.  Due to the magical and mysterious nature of these tiny spirits, they have become the most honored icons for the luckiest holiday of the year!  Children everywhere are plotting their contraptions to snare these mischievous imps in order to find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.   But is that all to really know about Leprechauns?  This Saint Patrick’s Day, why not give our kids a little history lesson about these mythical men and pass along the fun and fantasy that this Irish folklore celebrates. 

 lucky_the_leprechaun                                        Lucky the Leprechaun

Leprechauns are one of the oldest faeries depicted in Irish literature and date back even before the Celts were introduced between 800 and 400 BC.  They are the direct relatives of the Clurichauns, specifically cousins who although are similar in nature, are known less for mischief and more for destruction that they cause through the night after heavily drinking.  Leprechauns are very small in size and can be compared in height to a matchbox car or child’s action figure.  Attire consists only of a hat, green suit and buckled shoes with the occasional pipe as an accessory.  They are unique in their profession because unlike other Irish faeries, they are the only mythological creatures that are shoemakers.  The reason for this is known through their love of dance and music.  Legend says that the little men are quite talented in the musical realm having been able to master authentic Irish instruments such as the harp, whistle and fiddle.  After enjoying a social gathering of moonshine with friends, Leprechauns would religiously break out into song, playing music and dancing into the wee hours of the night.  Because of this passion, the faeries found it imperative to always have proper shoe ware thus bringing about their analogous trade of cobbles men. 

celticsleprechaun                                      Boston's Most Famous Leprechaun 

Now here’s the part that your kids are going to want to hear about…


Leprechauns are the trickiest and sneakiest figures of any folklore in the world and have to this day, never been caught by any human.  Each sprite has gathered an opulent assortment of riches that are said to be valued so precious, that the gods have granted them powers to protect it.  Commonly hidden in the countryside of Ireland, a Leprechaun has the capability if trapped to grant his captor three wishes although more of the time he will vanish before your eyes into thin air.  Places to be careful to look are underneath hollowed logs or trees where they have made their home.  If you do happen to catch yourself a Leprechaun, be weary when he begins to scream, tantrum and cry.  You might think its because you have found his gold but really, he’s thankful that you haven’t found the other squandered treasures that are hidden close by! 

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Traditions, Holidays, Kids, #EXFL, Saint Patricks Day

Finding Your Four Leaf Clover

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 13, 2015


Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here and Bostonians are getting ready to celebrate by taking time to partake in some of the traditional activities associated with the holiday.  Sure we all will be wearing green and cooking our corn beef and cabbage meals but how about finding a little luck to go along with our plans this year?  One of the greatest customs associated with March 17th is the possibility of discovering your dreams and wishes through a little luck!  For some it is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or catching a sneaky Leprechaun but for many, these tasks seem a bit too trying.  So how about something a bit more simple like finding a four-leaf clover?  Many believe that this is an impossible chore but in reality, four-leaf clovers are produced 1 in every 10,000 clovers.  The fourth leaf stems from a mutation of the plant where it is actually the first clover of a whole other specimen.  Now those odds don’t seem so bad do they?  You will also be surprised as to the number of suggestions experts have made to pin point probable locations that will help your search be more successful.  These are a few tips to get your investigations started and hears to finding a little bit of luck this Saint Patrick’s Day!


Hot Tips

  1. Once the snow melts and the spring warms the earth once again, find a patch of lawn or visit a local park where there is an abundance of greenery in the area.  Seasonally, clove hunting extends through March all the way to August.  Great spots include baseball fields, backyards and even rocky topography, which ironically produces healthy clover. 


  1. Stand upright over a large mass of clover and scan the area.  Do not bend down to look.  You will have a better chance from viewing and locating while standing erect and not crouched down.  Lightly brush your foot across the patch, gently separating the clumps so that the plants are flat.


  1. Peer down to the clover and look for the patterns in the leaves and you will begin to notice how fast sets of threes will stand out from any sets of fours. 


  1. Do not get discouraged if you have trouble at the start, your eyes will eventually adjust and pretty soon you will be picking your four-leaf clovers.  Be mindful that there may be several in one area because commonly, they grow efficiently with one another.  You should also know that there is accounts of five to eighteen clover samples in the wild so don’t limit yourself to only finding four! 



Tags: Gardening, Holidays, Saint Patricks Day

Saint Patrick’s Day Recipes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Mar 11, 2015

Saint Patrick’s Day is known for more than just wearing green-it’s one of the best holidays to feast on delicious traditional dishes from Ireland!  It happens to be a common misconception that meals served in honor of this celebration are, in general, bland with little to no flavor.   That is simply not true!  Over hundreds of generations, mouthwatering entrees have been developed by Europe’s finest cooks and passed down to their ancestors who have migrated to Boston.  Having their own adaptations and special ingredients, authentic Saint Patrick’s Day cuisine has become a true celebration unto itself being served not only in Bostonian homes but also in restaurants and hotels all over the city.  Another bonus for these recipes is that they are easy to make and considerably less expensive than other holiday spreads such as Thanksgiving or Easter.  Once you’ve found the meal that is perfect for you, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on things by adding spices and other vegetables preferable to you.  These are my favorites that I will be cooking this Saint Patrick’s Day that you just might find the urge to whip up yourself.

 sodabread_main                                photo credit:

Irish Soda Bread


2 teaspoons baking soda     3 tablespoons of caraway seed         2 cups raisins

1 cup sugar                            ¾ cups butter                                                3 eggs

6 teaspoons baking powder            2½ cups buttermilk                          1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sour cream   3 tablespoons milk                            5 cups flour


Preheat oven at 375 degrees.                     

Mix together the baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt until the batter is dry.  Slice the butter into pads to make it easier to combine with the mixture, making a crust like consistency.  Then add the raisins and caraway seed to make the bread flavorful and interesting to the taste.  Add a dash of milk slowly until the bread doe can be formed into loaves.  Place into bread oven dishes and bake for 55 minutes.  Serve with another slab of butter and eat immediately!

 corn-obrien2-300x200                                            photo credit:

Corn O’Brien


½ cup chopped onion          4 tablespoons green bell pepper

3 cups yellow corn kernels   2 tablespoons diced pimento

3 strips bacon                        1 tablespoon salt and pepper


Heat a skillet with a dash of olive oil and cook bacon until the pork is nice and crispy.  Set it aside while keeping the juices in the pan to flavor the next steps of cooking.  Add the pepper and onion and sauté until well cooked and softened.  Put the bacon back into the skillet as well as the pimento and corn kernels.  Cook until all of the ingredients have blended well and then season with salt and pepper.  Serve piping hot and enjoy!

Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA

Tags: Chef, cooking, Saint Patricks Day

Saint Patricks Day Flowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Mar 09, 2015

So you might think that Saint Patrick’s Day is all about the corn beef cabbage, beer and wearing the color green but Bostonians are learning that the upcoming holiday has much more to offer in celebratory terms!  Historically, this date marks several themes including religious and regional pride for the Irish culture.  But did you know that March 17th also holds tremendous significance with the celebration of seasonal changes placing importance on the new growth that arrives with warmer weather?  It’s true and the proof dates back to centuries ago when part of the celebration included planting the first seedlings of spring.  Because of this, there is an increase of attention building on the agricultural industry for Saint Patrick’s Day and lucky for us, the heightened demand for fresh cut flowers.  Of course, the flowers that are requested aren’t just any spring blooms that we might be carrying in our coolers this month but ones of course that emulate the theme, tradition and of course, colors of Saint Patrick’s Day.  Now I can tell, you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Not another year of dyed green carnations” although we are all knowledgeable of the fact that they are one of the biggest sellers in March.  No, you’ll be surprised that there is a greater opportunity for florists to widen their selection of flowers for holiday bouquets and centerpieces that are both creatively designed and contemporary.  Take a look at these popular blossoms and see if they fit your bill for a flower infused Saint Patrick’s Day.


Bells of Ireland

I love Bells of Ireland because of their dynamic shade of brilliant green and the name, which couldn’t get any better, for March 17th orders.  Appearing with a long spike with follicles resembling bells, these stems make design easy because of their durability, low cost and longevity when used in both fresh water vases and oasis.  Having the Latin name, Moluccella laevis, customers will be pleasantly surprised by the beautiful fragrance, which emanates the theme of freshness and springtime.  Bells of Ireland also hold multipurpose because they can be dried by hanging upside down or replanted in gardens once there is no danger of frost or frigid cold weather. 


            photo credit:

Green Calla Lilies

These have got to be the most stunning presentation a Boston florist can display within their shops for this Irish holiday.  Green calla lilies are both structurally interesting yet unique to most other varieties seen in our coolers during the month of March and require little fuss to design a fabulous floral piece.  My favorite species is the Green Goddess that towers majestically and is easily interwoven with other flowers or perfect all by itself for a profound impression.  They are available almost year round from farms in Ecuador and have become more and more affordable since growers production levels have increased.  You will love how easy these beauties will make your designing efforts as well as the silk smooth texture of their gorgeous petals. 

Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Holiday Decor, Saint Patricks Day, Calla Lilies

The History of St Patricks Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Mar 03, 2015


Saint Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays where we find ourselves looking forward to celebrating but aren’t exactly sure of where or why the tradition began.  For some, it means visiting a local Irish pub, wearing green or searching for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.   For others, March 17th signifies the beginning of spring and the warmer days ahead while others prefer to associate it with parties with friends and feasts of boiled dinner.  While all of these methods are festive and certainly entertaining, isn’t it important to learn the real meaning behind Saint Patrick’s Day?  There must be a larger significance besides dying our Ale a bright color green, right?  Living in the city of Boston where a significant amount of pride and honor is shown towards Irish history, culture and customs, shouldn’t we take a few minutes to understand the meaning of this holiday?


Saint Patrick’s Day is also named “The Feast of Saint Patrick” or “The Day of the Festival of Patrick”.   It was first enacted to pay homage to the death date of patron saint, Saint Patrick who was both a bishop and missionary during the 5th century.   He was also deemed “The Primate of Ireland” and “The Apostle of Ireland”.   As a boy, he was captured from his family by Irish Pirates from his native home of Great Britain and enslaved.  Amazingly after several years, Patrick escaped, returned to his family and then moved back to Ireland once he became a cleric.  The interesting part of the patron saint’s history was the decision to come back to a country where he was taken against his will in order to better the Irish community.  


Upon Saint Patrick’s death, the catholic religious sector deemed the day a holy day and lifted bans on drinking alcohol, which eventually led to a strong influence of drinking on this holiday.  Other customary attributes include attendance during special masses dedicated towards the saint as well as expressing patriotism to the country of Ireland.  Parades and extravagant servings of traditional foods are also a significant part of the tradition such as corn beef and cabbage with soda bread.  Other dishes that are frequently included are stews made with beef and platters that utilize mainly root vegetables.  Another interesting custom (that occurs more commonly in the Northeast) is the planting of peas.  The reasons surrounding this practice resonate from the color of the plant being green as well as the convenient time of year, which is perfect for generating seedlings. 


This Saint Patrick’s Day, try something new and think about adding some of the time honored traditions to your holiday agenda!

 Saint Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. I look forward to my husband's corned beef and cabbage every year.

Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA

Tags: St Patrick's Day Flowers, Traditions, Holidays, Saint Patricks Day

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