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The making of our ‘Thoughts of You’ arrangement

Among the thousands of Valentine’s Day arrangements we’ll be making this year is one called Thoughts of You, which this team was handcrafting in our central design department in Lebanon.

This arrangement features shades of pink comprising a rose, alstroemeria, carnations and mini carnations, as well as lavender button poms and stems of bupleurum, all contained in a 5.5-inch pink mason jar.

To send one to someone you love, click here.

 

Postcard from South America: Day 3

Day 3 found Tom Royer and Geoff Royer again in Bogota, again inspecting Valentine’s Day roses, this time at the Multiflora farm.

“The quality was very good from what we saw,” Geoff said. “It’s impossible to look at every bunch we get, but we make sure we go through the process with them about the cut point, again.”

As noted in our Day 2 entry, cut point is crucial. It’s the stage in a flower’s life when it is cut from the plant. The cut point has to be just right to ensure that our customers get the best quality and most value from their flowers.

Multiflora has invested in its processes to make them more accurate and efficient. Workers used to grade flowers in the field, so it was not as accurate as it could be, Geoff said.

Now the only thing they do in the field is sort the roses, long-stem vs. short stem. Now there’s a post-harvest building where the roses are graded more accurately, prepped and packed in boxes for shipping to customers such as Royer’s.

Multiflora now cools its loading dock, so there is no break in the “cold chain” between the post-harvest building, the loading dock, and the refrigerated trucks that will transport the roses to the airport.

“The better that flowers can be kept cold, the longer they will last throughout the process and for our customers,” Geoff said.

Multiflora is switching to a hydroponic growing system, so the plants are growing in raised beds rather than directly in the ground. This gives the farm more control over the nutrients the plants receive — and increases the yield by 50 percent.

Headed for home

Tom and Geoff also visited the Hossa farm, which provides us with spray roses (multiple small blooms per stem). But the focus of this stop was Hossa’s lilies.

Hossa has developed new varieties that produce more blooms per stem. And like Multiflora, Hossa has improved its processes, namely packing.

“They tightened the lilies into the boxes better so during transport they don’t shift,” Geoff said. “If the lilies shift in the boxes, it damages the buds and leaves bruising and creasing once the flowers open up.”

Their farm tours completed, Tom and Geoff are going their separate ways. Tom will fly to Miami for another inspection of the Valentine’s Day shipments, ensuring the highest quality before the flowers are packed on our truck for delivery to our Lebanon distribution center.

Geoff is headed back to Pennsylvania, arriving in Lebanon in time for the start of Valentine’s Day production Saturday in our central design department.

There, teams of Royer’s employees will handcraft thousands of holiday arrangements using the roses, carnations and other Colombian-grown flowers that Geoff and Tom saw firsthand only days earlier.

Postcard from South America: Day 2

We started Tom Royer and nephew Geoff Royer’s trip to Colombia, South America, in the city of Medellin. Day 2 found them some 335 miles southwest in Bogota, the nation’s capital.

Bogota sits in the center of Colombia, on a high-altitude plateau that provides year-round steady temperatures that help make it one of the world’s great flower-growing regions.

Tom and Geoff visited two more farms. The first was Elite, one of the largest growers in Bogota and our source mainly for roses and alstroemeria (lilies).

“Today was an inspection day,” Geoff said. “We examined some of our roses and discussed the cut point of the flowers.”

The cut point is, as the term suggests, the stage in the flower’s life cycle at which it is cut from the plant. There is an art to this, as we have to factor in the amount of time from farm, through customs in Miami, to our distribution center, to our stores and, finally, to our customers.

“Roses cut too open will blow open more quickly and not last as long,” Geoff said. “Roses cut too tight may not open at all. We are very critical of this part of the process and work with the growers to ensure that they have our cut points correct so we can provide the best possible product to our customers.”

While Elite has machines to help newer employees with grading the roses for head size and length, all of Royer’s roses are hand-graded by Elite’s experienced crews to ensure the best quality.

From Elite, Tom and Geoff visited the Geoflora farm, a carnation grower whose quality, Geoff said, is second to none. Besides inspecting the mini-carnations and carnations that Geoflora is growing for us for Valentine’s Day, they got a glimpse at some of the new products the farm is developing with its breeder.

“They have developed a carnation head size that is almost in a class of its own,” Geoff said.

 

 

Postcard from South America: Medellin flower farms

While they’re getting ready to play a big football game in Houston, Royer’s is gearing up for its version of the Super Bowl with our annual pre-Valentine’s Day trip to South America.

Tom Royer, our senior vice president and chief operating officer, has been making the trip for decades. In recent years, he has been joined by his nephew, Geoffrey Royer, who is a Royer’s area manager.

Their trek allows them to ensure that the roses and other Valentine’s Day flowers growing specifically for our customers are of the highest quality.

Day 1 found Tom and Geoff at the Liberty and Mira Monte farms in Medellin, Colombia, from which Royer’s mainly purchases daisies and cushion poms.

“The thing I took from today was how very technical it all is and the precision and detail needed to make it all work correctly,” Geoff said.

Conversation at both farms turned to propagation, or the process from seed to mother plants from which cuttings are taken. The cuttings beget plugs that are planted into vast beds and become the flowers we buy.

Planting for Mother’s Day

Geoff noted that while we’re focused on Valentine’s Day, the farms are planting for Mother’s Day.

“Planting any later than the next week or so could cause the crop to be too late for Mother’s Day,” Geoff said.

He noted the multiple variables that play roles in how flowers develop, from minerals such as phosphorus and potassium to sunlight and temperature.

Whatever their current products, the farms aren’t resting on their laurels. They work with breeders to create the varieties of flowers that Royer’s and other florists purchase.

“It’s not a simple process,” Geoff said. “Hundreds of thousands of seeds are gone through and test to see which ones produce plants and products that could be valued in the marketplace.

“They are then propagated and tested over time to see if they have issues with disease or how well they produce. If they have a winner, it takes time to then create enough cuttings to have a large enough production to make an impact.”

 

 

 

‘Freedom’ on the march when it comes to roses

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We’ve all heard the line from Shakespeare: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Far be it for us to quibble with “The Bard,” but names do matter when it comes to distinguishing among rose breeds. This certainly is the case with our standard red rose, which is anything but standard.

Known as the “Freedom” variety, it has been our primary rose since its 2004 introduction by the rose-breeding experts at Rosen-Tantau in Germany. The pure-red Freedom rose, which is grown in South America and Mexico, is known for being a productive plant that is highly resistant to pests and diseases.

What’s more for consumers, the Freedom rose makes a big impression with its deep color, size (flowers range from 5 to 7 centimeters across), and long vase life.

ROSE PETALS

Some tidbits about roses courtesy of aboutflowers.com:

  • Shakespeare referred to roses more than 50 times in his writings.
  • Napoleon’s wife Josephine grew more than 250 rose varieties.
  • Archeologists discovered fossilized remains of wild roses that were more than 40 million years old.
  • The world’s oldest living rose is 1,000 years old and flourishing on the wall of Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany.
  • The rose hips (the part left on the plant after a rose has finished blooming) contains more Vitamin C than almost any other fruit or vegetable.

Lebanon’s Neuin wins our latest name-the-arrangement contest

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Jennifer Neuin’s entry was one of 675 submitted in Royer’s latest name-the-arrangement contest.

But it ranked first overall when the judging was complete.

Neuin, of Lebanon, won the contest with her submission of “White Satin” as the moniker for our new European-style arrangement. It comes in a clear glass cube and features three types of greens and white flowers: one-dozen roses plus alstroemeria, hydrangea, veronica and stock.

Neuin will receive one of the arrangements after it debuts on Dec. 5.

A similar contest during the summer generated more than 450 entries.

Name-the-arrangement contest: Part 2

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Spring forward, fall back.

To name a new arrangement, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts is going back to a method that worked well this summer: turning to the public for help.

Royer’s has developed a new European-style arrangement that will be offered year-round. It comes in a clear glass cube and features three types of greens and white flowers: one-dozen roses plus alstroemeria, hydrangea, veronica and stock.

To view the arrangement and enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest.

The deadline to enter is Oct. 20; limit one entry daily per email address.

The winner will receive one of the arrangements as his or her prize.

 

5 ways for children to celebrate National Grandparents Day

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Marian McQuade was an expert in grandparenting. A West Virginia mother of 15, she had 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

If McQuade’s name doesn’t ring a bill, her work no doubt will. She was the founder of National Grandparents Day, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law in 1978.

National Grandparents Day is held on the first Sunday after Labor Day (Sept. 13 in 2015; Sept. 11 in 2016; Sept. 10 in 2017). September was chosen to signify the autumn years of life, according to Legacy Project.

To help celebrate the holiday, the Royer’s Kids Club offers five activities that children can do for or with their grandparents:

Send flowers: OK, this is an obvious one, but our founder, Hannah “Mom” Royer, was a doting grandmother and much loved by her grandchildren, as was her husband, Lester.

Make a card: Draw a pretty picture and write a note to tell your grandparents how much they mean to you.

Interview them: Grandma and grandpa have seen and experienced a lot of things in their lives. This handy interview form can help get you started. Listen closely to their answers because you can learn a lot.

Trace your family tree: Here’s a family tree chart that will make it easy to identify the people in your family by generation.

Read a book together: The kids club is a big believer in the power of reading. Here’s a terrific reading list to get you started.

Of course, there is an endless list of things that grandchildren and grandparents can do together.

What are some of your favorites?

 

 

Outdoor weddings, weather and having a Plan B

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On this particular September wedding day, the misty weather presented some logistical challenges for the bride and groom.

The ceremony that had been planned for a beautiful garden had to be moved indoors on short notice. A ballroom had to be transformed into a beautiful garden setting, complete with an arch and flower-festooned aisle.

As they say, into every life some rain must fall. And it was a good reminder that weather is one variable that no one controls, no matter how good of a wedding planner he or she is.

If you want an outdoor wedding, it’s best to have a Plan B just in case. We all know how variable the weather can be in Pennsylvania, after all.

A number of years ago, the Farmers’ Almanac solicited submissions for its “Worst Wedding Weather Contest.” After Texas and Florida, Pennsylvania tied Ohio and Indiana for the most submissions.

Couples from those states “have experienced the soggiest, snowiest, windiest, most hurricane-hampered and hail-ridden wedding weather,” according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

In fact, a Philadelphia-area couple won the contest’s grand prize (a warm-weather cruise) with a tale of how a record snowfall interrupted their wedding plans.

Many factors to consider

So what should you consider when it comes to creating that Plan B for your outdoor wedding? There are many factors, none more important than the safety and well-being of the wedding couple and their guests.

An article from about.com wedding expert Nina Callaway offers “10 tips for the perfect outdoor wedding.”

Of course, we’re pretty protective of the flowers, too.

We were on hand for that misty September wedding mentioned above. Being a perishable product, flowers require a tender touch. While do-it-yourself can be tempting when it comes to flowers (and other aspects of a wedding), it’s also comforting when a professional is on hand, in good weather and bad.

A florist will ensure that your flowers look their beautiful best. Unlike the weather, this is an aspect of your wedding that you can control.

Candace visits Cornwall Manor

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Candace Oliver, a designer at Royer’s flagship store in Lebanon, said she enjoys making people laugh and smile and loves teaching.

She delivered on each of those counts with her June 22 visit to Cornwall Manor, an active senior living community in Lebanon County. Candace presented a flower-arranging class to Cornwall Manor residents.

“I love doing stuff like that,” Candace said. “Love it, love it, love it.”

She showed the residents how to tape a vase, creating a grid that keeps flowers standing up. Step by step, she guided them in adding greens, selecting flowers and completing their arrangements.

A Lebanon resident since age 7, Candace graduated from Lebanon High School in 1998. In November, she will celebrate her fourth anniversary with Royer’s.

Meanwhile, Cornwall Manor is celebrating her visit.

Stacia Layser, Cornwall Manor’s public relations, development and volunteer coordinator, wrote in an email to Candace:

“Your attention to detail, energy and compassion were what made this a great event for our residents. Many of them are still talking about how much fun they had and the beautiful arrangements they made.”