Every dollar donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank can provide six nutritious meals to people in need.
By that measure, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will fund 90,000 meals with its $15,000 donation to the Harrisburg-based food bank, which serves 27 counties.
Of its 16 stores overall, family-owned Royer’s operates 13 (including one Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts store in Harrisburg) in the food bank’s market region.
Tom Royer, president and CEO of Lebanon-based Royer’s, said the donations reflect the company’s gratitude for the support it has received during the pandemic.
“We had to reinvent our company, and at times it was a painful process,” Royer said, “but our strong team’s dedication and hard work enabled us to come through this as a better company. It is our privilege to give back to our communities and help families that are struggling to put food on the table.”
Joe Arthur is executive director of the food bank.
“We are grateful for the support of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts,” Arthur said. “As we transition into the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation will help us provide healthy, nutritious food to those families, children, seniors and veterans who are still working to get back on their feet in the wake of the health and economic crisis.”
Of course, we commonly associate the three-leaf clover with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland. It’s also known as a shamrock, which comes from an Irish word that means “little clover.”
St. Patrick is said to have explained the holy trinity – father, son and holy spirit – by using a shamrock.
Here’s a way to keep things straight: All shamrocks are clovers, but not all clovers are shamrocks. That is, if a clover is a shamrock with three leaves, by definition it can’t have four leaves.
A shamrock is not associated with any specific clover species, of which there are hundreds. One of the plants that is called shamrock is oxalis, also known as wood sorrel or “love plant.” Royer’s obtains its oxalis plants from Canada.
Oxalis also is called a “false shamrock” because it’s not actually in the shamrock family but is better suited to the indoor environment than clover species are.
The oxalis plant is photophilic, meaning that its leaves and flowers close at night and open in the morning. Oxalis likes bright light, including full afternoon sun in the winter.
HOW TO LOVE YOUR LOVE PLANT (OXALIS)
Keep the soil barely damp, allowing it to dry slightly between waterings.
Cool temperatures are best, especially during blooming: 50 to 65 degrees at night, 70 to 75 degrees during day.
When the plant is actively growing in the winter/spring, feed it liquid fertilizer once per month. When it stops blooming, fertilize every other month until it goes dormant.
In the summer, oxalis will go dormant. When it starts to fade, stop watering and store the plant for two to three months in a cool, dark place. for a few weeks to three months. After this period, bring the plant back out and resume watering.
The plant can be repotted and/or divided, although it can remain in the same soil and pot for several years. To divide while the plant is dormant, look for small, bulb-like structures just below the soil surface. Gently pull these apart and pot in small groups.
Kimberly Lombardo is always interested in learning how couples connected.
For instance, one couple she knows began as rivals in a local softball league. She accidentally hit him in the face with a softball and broke his nose. She took him to the emergency room and then to dinner.
Kimberly allowed that she entered Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ love story contest because, “I always thought it was interesting how we met.” But what really intrigued us was how she and her husband, Christopher, became engaged.
We’ll get to that in a bit, but not before we congratulate Kimberly for being our contest winner. She will receive three monthly flower deliveries (valued at $29.99 per month), courtesy of Royer’s new subscription program.
‘A common goal’
Kimberly, a graduate of Lock Haven University, moved to the York area after teaching English as a second language at a high school in Japan. She met Christopher in 2002 when they both worked at the West Manchester Mall, she in customer service, he in security.
Both 24 at the time, Kimberly and Christopher knew each other casually. He would pop into the mall office, or they would “talk randomly” if they ran into one another at a mall event.
Christopher, who had never been on an airplane, was planning an 18-hour flight to Tokyo to attend a Japanese anime convention. Kimberly, who was dating someone at the time, offered to share her Japanese-English dictionary, train schedules and maps from her time in Japan.
“We just started talking,” Kimberly said, and realized that they had a lot in common. From their first date over breakfast on Christmas Eve, “We just started doing and hanging out more.”
Kimberly said she knew she was in love with Christopher when she realized that he was someone with lots of potential and she wanted to help him achieve it. His trip to Japan, she suggested to Christopher, wasn’t just about the convention but also an opportunity to travel and learn about another culture. She suggested he consider a career in the military.
They were, she said, “Kind of working together toward a common goal.”
In 2004, Kimberly began volunteering as an usher at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York, and Christopher joined the Air Force Reserves. They had been dating for three years by late 2006, when it appeared that Christopher could be deployed to Iraq.
They didn’t want to date forever, and they didn’t want to move in together without being married. They wanted to buy a house and knew it would be an easier process if they were married.
Proposal with three red roses
Against that backdrop, Christopher hatched a plan to propose to Kimberly on a grand stage, namely that of the Strand-Capitol during an early December performance of “The Nutcracker.”
“A lot of misdirection, lies and secrets” is how Christopher described the process of coordinating with the Strand-Capitol and producers of the “Nutcracker” while keeping details from Kimberly.
The couple had tickets to see “Nutcracker,” but Christopher concocted a story about winning backstage passes to meet the cast and crew. Between the end of the first act and intermission, a security guard led them backstage.
Christopher grabbed Kimberly’s hand. Instead of making their way to the cast and crew, however, he led her through the curtains and onto the stage.
Nervous and “sweating bullets,” beneath his military “dress blues,” Christopher noted to the audience of some 900 people that he and Kimberly had been together for three years. He presented her with three red roses, got down on one knee and asked Kimberly to marry him.
She nodded in the affirmative.
“She was speechless,” Christopher said. “Her brain just locked up, just froze.”
The audience gasped, clapped, stood and cheered. A reporter from the York Daily Record newspaper, clued in by the Strand-Capitol, was on hand to chronicle the moment.
The Lombardos married on Oct. 18, 2007 in Las Vegas in advance of Christopher’s 2008 deployment to Iraq. (He also would deploy to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2017.)
They have three children: Steven, 7; Paige, 5; and Kelly, 3. Kimberly stays home with the kids while Christopher, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State Harrisburg in 2014, is an IT specialist at the Defense Logistics Agency in New Cumberland.
And all these years later, Kimberly and Christopher still try to honor how their relationship began by having breakfast together on Christmas Eve.
Ravishing red roses rightfully rule Valentine’s Day, but they’re among many great options for conveying love and respect to the important people in your life, from family members to friends to valued community members.
Better still, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts offers arrangements and gifts at a wide range of price points to accommodate any budget. Here are some of our favorites:
For the grandparent with a small space, a beautiful vase arrangement featuring white hydrangea, red rose and pink alstroemeria. It’s simple, delicate, beautiful and perfect for a bedside or small coffee table.
If you’re giving flowers this Valentine’s Day, odds are they will be roses.
That generous gesture alone is likely to impress the recipient. But maybe you really want to wow that special someone with your knowledge of the national flower (see below).
For you, we offer a dozen facts about roses that will help you demonstrate an even deeper commitment to your gift-giving.
1. Red rules
Because they symbolize love and romance, red roses are the runaway most popular color at Valentine’s Day, accounting for 69 percent of sales. In 1800, roses from China were bred with European roses to create the first true red rose. Rounding out the top 5 colors are white (38 percent), pink (37 percent), mixed (31 percent), and yellow (29 percent).
2. Color meaning
Other rose colors convey different meanings, giving you other options depending on your relationship with the recipient. For instance, you can send a message of friendship and cheer with yellow roses. Pink is a sign of appreciation, white of reverence.
3. Sweet smell
Rose oil is a popular floral scent and used in many women’s perfumes. It takes 2,000 roses to produce just one gram of oil.
4. 13,000 varieties
The cultivation of roses began around 500 B.C. Today, there are some 100 rose species and 13,000 rose varieties. And you thought there were a lot of mustard options at the grocery store!
Roses are among the oldest flowers: rose fossils found in Colorado in the late 19th
century were 35 million years old. The oldest living rose is 1,000 years old and grows on a wall at Hildeshein Cathedral in Germany.
6. George Washington, no lie
The Father of His Country chopped down a cherry tree, according to folklore, but Washington planted roses at his Virginia home, Mount Vernon, and hybridized a variety that he named the “Mary Washington” after his mother.
7. 200 million roses
Each Valentine’s Day, Americans give approximately 200 million roses. The bulk of those roses come from South America. In the three weeks leading up to Feb. 14, the Washington Post reported in 2019, 30 cargo jets travel from Colombia to Miami each day.
8. From South America with love
Royer’s works directly with rose farms in South America to ensure that our flowers are of the highest quality. We visit those farms each year in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day to check on the crop and then follow the shipment through U.S. customs in Miami and onto a refrigerated truck destined for central Pennsylvania.
9. White House Rose Garden
Established in 1913 by the wife of Woodrow Wilson, the Rose Garden borders the Oval Office and the West Wing. It has been redesigned several times, as recently as 2020.
10. National flower
In 1986, standing in the Rose Garden, President Ronald Reagan declared the rose the national flower of the United States.
11. Stories and songs
Authors and songwriters have long been inspired by roses. To wit, in “Romeo and Juliet,” William Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” By one count, more than 4,000 songs are dedicated to roses.
12. Make them last
With the right care, your recipient’s roses can last for a week or longer. It is important to water the flowers and to keep them away from heat sources. If the water gets dirty, remove the flowers, re-cut the stems and put them back in the vase with fresh water.
Between gifting roses and learning more about them here, clearly you have put all of your heart into Valentine’s Day.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we want to share a family-friendly love story on our blog, perhaps yours.
We’re holding a contest to find that story. The winner, who must live within Royer’s delivery area, will have his or her story professionally written and will receive three monthly flower deliveries (valued at $29.99 per month) courtesy of Royer’s new subscription program.
In two or three sentences (approximately 50 words), tell us what is unique and compelling about your love story. Maybe it’s how or where you met, or when you realized you were in love, or a sweet tradition you share.
The winner, who will be chosen on Jan. 25 (now Jan. 29), must be willing to participate in a phone interview that week. We’ll share the story in early February.
We hope you’ll put your heart into this. Good luck!
Some people pronounce it “poinsetta” (three syllables), and others say “poinsettia,” (four syllables). We’re not sticklers either way. It’s more important that you enjoy your poinsettia and get the most out of it.
Grown in Lancaster County
But while there’s leeway when it comes to pronunciation, there are strongly rooted facts about poinsettias:
The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
Poinsettias come in more than 100 varieties, from traditional red and white to pink and burgundy, marbled and speckled.
Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.
Contrary to popular myth, poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets: An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts might have a slight tummy ache. Some people with latex allergies have had skin reactions to the sap that comes from poinsettia leaves.
Poinsettias are happiest in conditions that approximate their Mexican origin: as much bright light as possible, warm and never sitting in water. Like humans, they don’t like wet feet.
The plants can suffer from droopy leaves, a condition known as epinasty, if they are exposed to cold temperatures or experience a build-up of ethylene gas.
If you’ve ever shopped for poinsettias at a big-box retailer, you may have seen a rack of them still in their protective sleeves. What you’re really seeing is those plants being ruined because the sleeves trap ethylene gas. An experienced florist knows to remove the sleeves as soon as possible.
By any name or pronunciation, poinsettias are a beautiful and safe holiday tradition, a gift of Mexican origin that keeps giving to the world nearly two centuries later.
Clare House’s mission is to transform the lives of women and their children through an employment-focused program providing safety, housing and supportive services with the goal of financial stability. Clare House celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.
Photo: Geoff Royer, vice president of central operations, left, and Tom Royer, CEO, of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, with Brittany Garner, board member, Clare House.
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will continue an annual tradition when it honors veterans with free patriotic bouquets on Nov. 11.
The bouquets – featuring a red carnation, a white carnation and a blue bow – will be available in-store only at any of Royer’s 16 locations in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.
Royer’s employees and customers are required to wear masks for their safety as part of the effort to combat COVID-19.
“We always look forward to Veterans Day and the opportunity to show our appreciation for the men and women who have selflessly served our country,” said Tom Royer, CEO of Royer’s.