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Mum grower Frysville Farms near Ephrata is almost as old as America

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There’s a bar in the East Village of Manhattan that opened its doors in 1854. A sign in the window greets patrons young and old with a pointed message: “We were here before you were born.”

In northern Lancaster County, Pa., Frysville Farms bests the bar by three-quarters of a century, tracing its origin to practically before the United States of America was born.

“We’ve been here since 1785,” said Simon Fry, who with brothers Tony and Vincent represents the eighth generation of continuous family operation of the farm. A ninth generation is now involved.

Simon oversees sales and shipping logistics; Tony is the chief greenhouse grower; Vincent is the chief mum grower. Simon noted that they help one another out in all facets of the business.

Frysville Farms produces 80,000 mums each year for customers in a three-hour radius that stretches from northern New Jersey to Maryland and Virginia. Customers include garden centers and groceries and organizations that sell mums as fundraisers.

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, itself a fourth-generation, family-owned business, has been a Frysville Farms customer for years. Its mums arrive in stores in early September.

10 acres for mums and fall products

Although Frysville Farms has been growing flowers since the 1960s, they represent but the latest evolution in the family’s august entrepreneurial history.

That began 200 years earlier, when ancestor Hans Martin Fry set up a grist mill in 1760 along the Little Muddy Creek in what is now East Cocalico Township, several miles upstream from Frysville Farms, Simon said.

Hans’ son Johan Martin Fry, after fighting in six battles in the American Revolution, purchased the farm at sheriff’s sale in 1785. It already had a grist mill, which today, with its exposed timber walls and ceiling, serves as the company’s main office.

When a larger grist mill was built next door, the original one became a saw mill. Downstairs were, at various times, a distillery and a creamery.

With the grist mill’s closing in 1920, the family focused on farming. In 1955, Frysville Farms began growing hybrid poplar trees, according to the company’s website, and in the 1960s it progressed to the greenhouse production of annuals, perennials, vegetable plants and hanging baskets.

Today, approximately 10 acres are devoted to growing mums and other fall products outside. Some two acres are “under plastic,” as Simon referred to the 15 greenhouses used mainly for growing spring crops and poinsettias for Christmas.

Potting in May and June

The cuttings arrive over time starting in late April, as Frysville Farms grows early-, mid- and late-season mums that bloom in early August, late-August/early September, and mid-September, respectively.

Just as candy corn sometimes arrives on supermarket shelves in July, mums aren’t limited to fall. Customers have different preferences, which extends the selling season.

“Some people want their mums early,” Simon said. “We’ll oftentimes have people calling in here, ‘Do you have mums ready,’ and that’s the beginning of August.”

The cuttings are green, just a piece of plant that is stuck in soil in plug trays. Nestled in misting beds in a greenhouse, the cuttings establish roots over three or four weeks.

Frysville Farms depends on labeling and individual packaging from its suppliers to know what color the cuttings will grow into. There will be mums of red, pink, yellow, bronze, orange, purple – in various shades of each.

“And we take great care in making sure to not mix them up,” Simon said.

The first plugs are potted in late May, early June.

Simon broke from an interview to take a phone call. He joked with the wholesale customer on this hot, sunny Friday afternoon.

“You’re going fishing, I know you,” he said.

Stack of white gloves

After the call, Simon related across desks to Tony that the customer wanted all of Frysville Farms’ remaining echibeckia (a cross between coneflower and black-eyed Susan that has a starburst appearance).

Not only do the brothers work together, they (and a sister) all have homes on the sprawling farm.

“Yeah,” Simon noted, “but not right on top of each other. Tony’s right here, I’m up on the other side, my brother Vince is down the road. So we all live separate lives. I think that’s how you’ve got to do it. You can’t be in each other’s hair all the time.”

He added:

“Occasionally I have to fuss at one of them for walking into my hunting spot while I’m sitting there,” he quipped. “ ‘Hey, I’m sitting here, you’re scaring all the deer away. Come on!’ ”

Before taking a visitor into the fields, Simon conducted a brief tour of the office, which also serves as a museum of sorts. In cabinets with glass doors are old mill ledger books dating to 1799; family bibles; books written by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Norman Mailer; medical and legal books. A stack of white gloves is available for anyone handling the delicate pages.

“The Frys were prolific readers,” Simon said.

Outside, he got behind the wheel of a Dodge Caravan and took his guest to the fields and greenhouses, with stops for photos, to check on the irrigation system and to show early-stage mums and poinsettias in a misting house.

Simon marveled at the nimbleness of deer that cause surprisingly little damage to the mum pots. They might occasionally knock over a pot or kick out a watering line.

“You’d think they’d be in here browsing and munching all this nice tender green stuff, but no,” he said.

In another couple weeks, the mums would start to reveal their colors. Then it would be time to start delivering them to customers.

“We’d rather that they color up at your place rather than mine,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

Paige Hershey is this year’s winner of the Royer’s Kids Club birthday card design contest

Paige with her dog, Shiloh.

Lancaster County’s Paige Hershey didn’t sit idle during the pandemic.

For one thing, the East Lampeter Township 12-year-old got busy entering contests. One was for photography, another for writing.

“She’s just driven,” said Paige’s mother, Heather.

That drive led to success for the seventh-grader. Paige had the winning entry in this year’s Royer’s Flowers & Gifts Kids Club birthday card design contest.

Her design will adorn the electronic card that kids club members will receive on their birthdays in the coming year. Paige’s prize is a free flower delivery on her next birthday.

Paige, one of five siblings, loves to draw (mainly horses) and read, Heather said. Paige plays field hockey and basketball and swims.

“She’s a really fun kiddo,” her mother said.

The Royer’s Kids Club is free to ages 5 to 12. With parental permission, children may register for the kids club at any Royer’s store or online at royers.com/kidsclub. Kids club benefits include a membership card, online activities, a quarterly e-mail newsletter, contests and events.

You name it, you win it: Royer’s new arrangement

Every year for various reasons, Royer’s Flowers reworks approximately half of its arrangements.

This year, one of those makeovers is the focus of Royer’s annual name-the-arrangement contest.

This design features a clear dimple vase filled with sunflowers, carnations, daisy poms and charmelia, with accents of golden solidago and purple asters. It’s only lacking a name.

To view the arrangement and enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest. Limit one entry daily per email address, through Aug. 6.

The person who submits the winning name will receive the arrangement (retail value $49.99) as a prize.

Entries due July 15 for this year’s Royer’s Kids Club birthday card contest

The winning design in 2020

Just in time for summer vacation, the Royer’s Kids Club has a challenge for children ages 5 to 12.

We’re looking for our next birthday card design, one that all kids club members will receive in the year ahead.

As a reward, the designer of the winning entry will receive a free bouquet delivery on his or her birthday.

To enter the contest, which begins June 14, pick up an entry form at any Royer’s store or download one here.

Entries must be dropped off at a Royer’s store by July 15.

Good luck to everyone. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Royer’s Flowers donates $3,000 to Helping Harvest Food Bank

From left, Geoff Royer, vice president, central operations, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, and Doug Long, director of development, Helping Harvest food bank in Reading, Pa.

For every dollar donated, Helping Harvest can acquire $20 worth of food to help people in need in Berks and Schuylkill counties.

By that measure, the food bank will leverage a $3,000 donation from Royer’s Flowers & Gifts into $60,000 worth of food.

Tom Royer, president and CEO of Lebanon-based Royer’s, said the donation reflects his family-owned company’s gratitude for the support it has received during the pandemic. Royer’s 16 stores include Reading, Shillington and Wernersville in Berks County.

“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.”

Doug Long is director of development for Helping Harvest, which he said “is extremely grateful for the continued support and generosity of Royer’s Flowers and Gifts. In the past year, we have seen the need for food assistance in our community skyrocket. Thankfully, because of concerned supporters like Royer’s, we have been able to ensure that no family needs to go hungry during these difficult times.”

Brighten up your back yard with rugged outdoor canvas art

Sue Pappas needed a name for her business that was free of any potential trademark issues.

She settled on West of the Wind.

“I don’t know why, and it’s a very odd name,” she allowed, but it was one she thought no one else in her industry would have.

Winds of change would blow, however. Within months of the 2007 launch of the Durant, Okla.-based company, Pappas and her two partners at the time realized that the market for indoor wall décor was saturated.

Turning their gazes outward, literally, they saw a void in the outdoor décor realm. They sought to fill it by offering giclee canvas prints for outdoor use.

Beginning with one size and 50 images in 2008, West of the Wind now wholesales more than 550 images that are available among three canvas sizes.

The pandemic has kept Americans in their own back yards, prompting a consumer splurge on outdoor decor. Seizing on that, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts began carrying the vibrant, high-quality West of the Wind products this year.

Royer’s offers the canvases in two sizes – 24 by 24 inches and 30 by 40 inches – for $99.99 and $199.99, respectively. They can be purchased in-store or online.

Protection from UV rays and water

Approximately 80 percent of the designs are based on paintings, with photographs comprising the other 20 percent, Pappas said. West of the Wind has licenses with the artists, who provide digital files to the company from high-resolution scans of their original artwork.

Pappas’ team then crops or makes any other necessary changes before sending the files for printing. Giant Epson inkjet printers (giclee is a French word meaning “to spray or to squirt with a nozzle”) transfer the design onto canvas. A proprietary lacquer is applied to the front and back to protect the canvas from harmful UV rays and water damage.

The canvas is gallery wrapped, meaning that the image appears on the sides of the frame as well as the front. The canvas is attached to vinyl stretcher bars that aren’t affected by moisture, cold or heat. Stainless steel staples, which can’t corrode, attach the stretched canvas to the stretcher bars.

Each print comes with hardware for outdoor installation. Two L-shaped hooks can be screwed into stone, stucco, brick, wood or aluminum. Brackets on the back of the canvas slide over the hooks. The hanging system is designed to withstand 60 mph winds.

West of the Wind guarantees its products for two years. But in these uncertain times, perhaps the best the outdoor canvases can do is help you do a better job of living in the moment.

 

Royer’s Flowers funds 90,000 meals with $15,000 donation to Central PA Food Bank

From left, Geoff Royer, vice president, central operations, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, and David Carl, corporate partnership manager, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

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.”

For more information about the food bank, visit centralpafoodbank.org.

Need help sorting out clovers from shamrocks? You’re in luck

I’m looking over a four-leaf clover that I over looked before.

Most of us have heard the song by that name, which also happens to be its first line. But you’re in rare company if you’ve actually come across a four-leaf clover in the wild.

Your odds of finding one? One in 10,000, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’re so rare because they are an unusual mutation of a three-leaf clover.

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.

Love story: Kimberly and Christopher Lombardo

The Lombardos on their wedding day in Las Vegas.

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.

 

 

 

 

Flower and gift ideas for all of your valentines

#2167

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 Partner

#2167 Masterpiece

This upgrade on a traditional dozen red roses features a handblown vase, stargazer lilies and curly willow to give a lavish loving look.

For Child

#2106

#2106 Sweet Hugs Bud Vase

Perfect for children of any age, it includes two roses in a red vase with a heart ribbon accompanied by a soft, huggable teddy bear and Hershey’s Kisses.

For Parent

#2114

#2114 Heart of Hearts

A lovely blend of pink and red flowers to show your love – straight from the heart.

#1959

#1959 Always figurine

Add a special gift for mom with this heart-tugging figurine, which comes boxed with a note saying, “I feel the strength of your love.”

For Grandparent

#2136

#2136 Love’s Garden

For the grandparent with a green thumb, this will continue to sprout love well after Valentine’s Day.

#2101

#2101 One True Love

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.

For Sibling

#2112

#2112 Sent with Love

A vibrant mix of Dutch tulips perfect for a sister or brother.

#2185

#2185 Pound of Chocolates

Make your gesture extra sweet with a gourmet mix that includes caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels and buckeyes from Ohio’s Waggoner chocolates.

For Friend

#2162

#2162 Dozen Yellow Roses

Yellow roses are a traditional sign of friendship, joy and caring. The pandemic has made it more difficult to enjoy time with friends; here’s a way to let them know how much you value them.

#9235

#9235 Your Journey Heart Bracelet

From Demdaco, this beaded bracelet features a heart pendant and comes with a message gift box that reminds us to “nurture loving moments with our favorite people.”

For Neighbor

#544

#544 Chocolate Lover

Good neighbors deserve a basket teeming with a delicious gift selection of chocolate treats.

For Teacher

#2137

#2137 Love Grows

What better way to recognize the hard work of teachers, whether in the in-person or virtual classroom, with this easy-care succulent plant?

For Healthcare Worker

#2111

#2111 Love’s Garden

A bright and cheerful mix of garden flowers are the perfect prescription for thanking health care workers for their selfless devotion to public wellness.

For Employee

#2182

#2182 Milk Chocolate Pretzel Bag

Reward an employee’s hard work and dedication with this 6.5-ounce bag from Asher’s Chocolates.

Of course, you will find dozens of items from which to choose at royers.com and in our stores.

It’s easy to let your love flow to all of your valentines!