Caranci creates ‘breathtaking’ flower displays

Caranci creates ‘breathtaking’ flower displays

Margie Caranci shows off the many thousands of flowers she carefully cultivates around her East Avenue home every year. (Breeze photos by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Margie Caranci had already developed quite a reputation for her flowers before this year’s stay-at-home spring.

With more time on her side, Caranci set out to create her best display ever at 26 East Ave., a property measuring just a little over a tenth of an acre but where every square inch, including space for a pool, fish ponds and fire pit, is maximized.

After taking a recent tour of Caranci’s yard, neighbor Marjorie Hubyk said what she’s done is simply “breathtaking.”

This year’s flower displays are bigger and better than ever, Caranci told The Breeze.

“I’ve really extended it over the years because I love it so much,” she said. “It’s calming, I just love it.”

With extra nurturing this year and plenty of spring rain, the many flowers and few vegetable plants at her home have grown huge, she said. The key to a good garden is vigilance on watering and care, being careful not to water during the hot times of the day to avoid burning, and careful “deadheading” to allow new plants to emerge.

The water bill is very high, Caranci said, and the cost of flowers is steep, “but it’s worth it” to bring joy in her own life and to others, particularly during a time like this. Her favorite flowers are petunias and geraniums.

Many people look at the front of the house and assume that’s where all the time and energy go into, said Caranci. Hubyk, for example, didn’t realize there was much more to see out back, and was in awe when she walked behind the home.

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“They don’t realize how much I do,” she said. “The front is one-quarter of it. I cover as much as I can to make it look pretty.”

Part of the tour during a visit to the Caranci home involves an explanation on all the stones in the walkway and other parts of the yard, as she and her husband have incorporated them over many years after bringing them back from numerous trips to various locations.

Her husband, Paul, a former town councilman, helps with the watering and maintains the three homemade fish ponds on the property, but other than that, he said, this is her baby.

In past springs and summers, when she has gone in to her job as a paralegal at Roger Williams University School of Law Providence Clinic, Caranci said she gets up at the crack of dawn to water and care for her flowers. She can get up later when working from home, but that daily process still takes up to two hours. Weeding takes a ton of time each day, she said.

Part of what makes for great flower gardens is not being too inflexible, said Caranci.

“A lot of this stuff just happened,” she said of flowers that she never planted but appeared at some point and haven’t gone away. She particularly loves the vinca vines along the front wall, which come back year after year with purple flowers to start the season and cascade toward the sidewalk. She’ll often cut off a piece to give to someone else to start their own vines (put it in water and watch it sprout).

Caranci has now been doing flowering displays for 30 or more years, mixing perennials and annuals. Though it can get expensive, she said, there are many ways to save money by re-potting in creative ways or buying six-packs of tiny sprouts.

Margie Caranci gives a tour of the more shaded side of the house, showing how she deadheads flowers to keep them healthy.