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Garden roses are back and a popular option for weddings

Garden roses, which once were the everyday rose sold by local flower shops, are back in their uniquely big and fragrant ways.

Their large blooms and strong scent not only distinguish them from today’s standard roses but also make them an increasingly popular option for weddings and other special occasions.

This is how Alexandra Farms in Bogota, Colombia, the source for most of the garden roses that Royer’s buys, toasts its product: “Garden roses are to roses what champagne is to wine.”

BRED FOR PERFORMANCE

Decades ago, Royer’s and other florists grew their own garden roses. What today is known as a standard or modern rose didn’t exist.

By the 1970s, however, an oil embargo made it prohibitively expensive for Royer’s and other domestic florists to heat their greenhouses. Meanwhile, Bogota, by virtue of lying on a plateau near the equator, enjoyed warm days and cool nights – or near-perfect conditions for rose production. (Today, the major rose-producing nations are Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya.)

But as with many things in life, there was a tradeoff: The farther away growers were from florists, the hardier that roses (and other flowers) had to be to withstand the added time and rigors involved with shipping.

So, a choice had to be made between flower bloom size and fragrance on the one hand and vase life (or how long a flower lasts once it is cut) on the other. Garden roses have twice as many petals as standard roses, which manifests as significantly bigger blooms than standard rose blooms.

“In many cases,” according to Alexandra Farms, “you couldn’t get a garden rose with a long vase life if you wanted it also to have many petals or fragrance, so [growers] moved toward standard roses. Rather than getting more beauty or fragrance in the varieties they grew, they got longer vase life. In short, [roses] lost some of their charisma in favor of performance.”

Famed rose breeder David Austin changed that by developing a garden rose genetic line specifically for the cut-flower market.

“Now, garden roses are bred for performance in addition to their charismatic qualities,” according to Alexandra Farms, “so you can have the best of both worlds.”

Meanwhile, improvements in post-harvesting techniques – from hydration methods to anti-ethylene treatments (ethylene gas can promote premature flower death) to better packaging – “have enabled us to grow more productively and ship our cut flowers around the world,” according to Alexandra Farms.

The grower said it has tested more than 1,500 varieties of garden roses for beauty but also for shelf and vase life.

ALTERNATIVE TO PEONIES

Garden roses are available in almost every color that exists for standard roses. True to their champagne reputation, garden roses cost more than standard roses, but they are a cost-effective alternative to peonies.

Garden roses are sometimes described as having “powder puff” petals that mirror those of peonies and make them a good substitute when peonies aren’t available.

Peonies require frozen soil – and therefore seasons, Alexandra Farms explained. The plants must freeze in the ground for months in order to sprout in the spring. Based on time of year and availability, peonies can be considerably more expensive than garden roses, which are available year-round.

But Alexandra Farms, which grows 61 varieties of garden roses in Colombia, noted that garden roses don’t have to be limited to weddings and other special events.

They “can be used for anything including home décor, vase work, etc.,” according to the grower. “The garden roses grown at Alexandra Farms were bred and selected for longevity, as well as beauty. They are hardy and work well for any use.”

M is for Mother’s Day and Morning News

Woody Felty of Royer’s talks Mother’s Day with Fox 43’s Amy Lutz.

Kids love flowers.

“What kid hasn’t picked flowers out of the yard and carried them inside?,” said Woody Felty, Royer’s vice president of merchandising.

Woody visited Fox 43 on May 2 to discuss Mother’s Day, which is May 11. He appeared in-studio with Fox 43 Morning News co-anchor Amy Lutz.

“My daughter thinks the yellow ones that are growing in the grass are, in fact, flowers,” Lutz said. “I have not had the heart to tell her otherwise.”

“They’re still pretty, aren’t they?” Woody said of dandelions. “Even a weed has some color and texture.”

‘Mom’s going to share’

But if plants and flowers are more to your liking, Woody offered a range of options, from traditional mixed bouquets and plants to trendier succulents and terrariums. He noted that an estimated one-third of American adults will buy cut flowers or plants as a gift for this Mother’s Day.

Terrariums, he said, are “pretty much a self-contained arrangement.” The glass dome creates condensation that then waters the plant, resulting in “a rain forest, tropical feel.”

Children like giving gifts to Mom, too. He suggested a plush teddy bear, or a box of chocolates “because Mom’s going to share.”

For mothers receiving fresh-cut flowers, Woody said, can make them last their longest by recutting the stems at least one inch from the bottom and add preservative (a packet should come with the flowers) to the water. A bouquet from Royer’s is designed to be dropped into a vase without much effort on the part of the recipient.

“It’s pretty much a drop and go,” Woody said.

To view the segment, click on this link.

Living with flowers results in ‘significant decrease’ in stress levels and improved moods: study

Working, commuting, paying bills, tending to family demands.

How do I stress thee? Let me count the ways.

If there’s too much on your to-do list, you might want to scrap it altogether and start over with a single item: get flowers.

Recent research from the University of North Florida revealed that the presence of flowers can reduce stress, according to the Society of American Florists, of which Royer’s is a member.

“The findings show that people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods.”

One-third of people are stressed every day; women are particularly affected, with one in four of them experiencing stress multiple times daily.

“Our findings are important from a public health perspective,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, associate professor in the university’s department of public health, “because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect.”

Helpful tips

The Society of American Florists offered these tips for using flowers “to help relax and rewind”:

Experience flowers: Walk into your local florist and take a look around. Just the sight and smell of the natural beauty of flowers will put you at ease. Ask your florist to show you what’s in the cooler so you can learn about new varieties, colors and design styles.

Find peace: If you are having a bad day when it seems like nothing is going right, try flowers in soothing, tranquil colors, such as blues, lavenders and pale greens. Place a small arrangement on your nightstand or in your bathroom, so you can experience the stress-relieving benefits of flowers right before you go to bed, and right when you get up to start your day.

Help others: Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and the pressures of the day, is to do something nice for someone else. Here’s an idea: Go to your florist and buy two bouquets. Keep one for yourself, then take the other bouquet and “petal it forward” to a stranger on the street. You’ll be amazed at the reaction to your random act of kindness.

Give yourself some joy: One great way to reconnect with joy and feel less stressed is to surround yourself with simple things that make you feel happy and loved, like a colorful bunch of flowers or a blooming plant. Flowers have the power to open hearts, and when your heart is open you are more likely to focus on the positive points in your day.

Be a friend: Do you have a friend or loved one who could use a boost? Have flowers delivered unexpectedly to their door, and watch their ordinary day become extraordinary. It will make you smile, too.

Color your world: Color therapists say colors really do affect our moods. The happiest color? Orange. It promotes optimism, enthusiasm, and a sense of uplift. Choose orange flowers — roses, gerberas, lilies, ranunculus, alstroemeria, tulips — to put on your kitchen counter or your work desk, and see your mood soar.

Pepper your house with small doses of calm: When bringing home flowers from your florist, have a couple of small vases and containers available so you can place a few flowers in different parts of your living space. You’ll be amazed how many small arrangements you can get out of a single bunch of flowers, and you’ll have constant reminders to “stop and smell the flowers.”

The 2018 research from the University of North Florida builds on other university studies suggesting that flowers can help make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and boost energy.

 

Royer’s introduces fresh gathered bouquets

Do it yourself doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

A case in point: Royer’s new fresh gathered bouquets.

Available in 13 different options (with the promise of more to come), the bouquets sell for $19.99 or $29.99 including delivery. They arrive in a brown craft paper sleeve tied with raffia, giving the package a “rustic, farmers market feel,” said Cheryl Brill, Royer’s chief operating officer – retail.

The small ($19.99) version of the Tuscan bouquet, for instance, comprises mini green hydrangea, alstroemeria, daisy poms, viking poms, carnations, mini carnations, caspia, and tree fern. The larger ($29.99) version adds two roses to the mix.

Increasingly, flower buyers like to purchase loose bouquets they can arrange themselves, often using favorite containers, Brill said.

Hands-on

Yet customers can take comfort in knowing that each fresh gathered bouquet is professionally designed with complementary colors and textures (caspia and tree fern, for instance) in mind and then hand-assembled in Royer’s stores.

This removes some of the guesswork for customers while allowing them to be hands-on at home.

Brill said she took one of the bouquets home, trimmed the stems to the appropriate length, and dropped the bouquet into a vase.

“I couldn’t be happier with how that turned out,” she said. “And if customers can do that at home, I would think they’d be very happy with that, too.”

Many customers like to purchase for themselves. Of course, as with any other Royer’s product, the fresh gathered bouquets can be sent to someone as a gift.

While fresh gathered bouquets currently are available only in Royer’s market area, Brill delivered this tidbit: soon customers will have the opportunity to ship them almost anywhere in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royer’s Kids Club celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with free event March 16 in all stores

They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

While that may be a wee bit of an overstatement, this much is true: On March 16, all Royer’s Flowers & Gifts stores are celebrating the holiday with a free kids club event.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make an Irish Blessings arrangement, featuring a three-inch plant in a basket that can be decorated with green foil, satin ribbon and a glitter shamrock stick-in.

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Registration is required by calling your nearest Royer’s store.

The other 2019 kids club events are March 16, June 29, Aug. 17 and Nov. 2.

News coverage of Royer’s Flowers gets to the heart of Valentine’s Day preparation

Dan Gleiter, photographer with the Patriot-News/Pennlive, shoots video interview with Geoff Royer, vice president of central operations.

Geoff Royer had been on the go for days, including an annual pre-Valentine’s Day trip to South America to check up on Royer’s rose crop.

But on this day, Geoff’s near-constant movement was confined to Royer’s corporate complex in Lebanon, specifically the central design department where teams of associates gathered around long tables to hand-craft arrangements for the company’s 16 stores in seven counties.

Yet Geoff, vice president of central operations, stopped long enough for a brief interview with Patriot-News/Pennlive photographer Dan Gleiter.

“We’ll do about 27,000 arrangements for the holiday,” Geoff explained, the room bustling behind him. “Fifteen thousand or so of those will be roses. We’ll also do mixed bouquets, rose bunches and loose flowers, as well. We’ll do about 10,000 deliveries on Valentine’s Day itself.”

The interview and a photo gallery can be viewed on Pennlive. Meanwhile, several photos appeared in the Patriot-News print edition on Feb. 12.

Helping the heroes

Meanwhile, PBS39’s Berks County reporter Brittany Sweeney visited Royer’s Reading store for her look at Valentine’s Day. She spoke with Jenni Eberly, Royer’s market manager in Berks County.

“With the vases prepped and the flowers pruned,” Sweeney began her story, “less than a week out, Valentine’s Day hustle is under way.”

“This is our Super Bowl,” Jenni explained. “We get very excited.”

She explained how Geoff and his uncle, CEO Tom Royer, painstakingly review their specific flower crop at farms in South America and then follow the shipment as it makes its way through U.S. customs in Miami and onto tractor-trailers for the ride to Lebanon.

“Because even though we’re dealing with this huge volume, we don’t ever want to sacrifice quality,” Jenni said.

That volume totals a half-million roses and carnations at Valentine’s Day. Each one of those roses is “individually touched and cleaned and the thorns stripped, any of the bad petals peeled off so the roses look perfect for their arrival to the customer’s home.”

Asked what he was purchasing, customer Robert Latshaw said: “Definitely roses because I think that’s what everybody wants. Stick with tradition, right?”

Despite the volume, the flowers pass through Royer’s in short order.

“It comes in and goes out very quickly, and at the end we’re helping a lot of people be heroes to their loved ones,” Jenni said. “It’s great.”

You can view the PBS39 story here.

Just like Jack: Become a seasonal independent delivery driver for Valentine’s Day

Jack O’Hara started with Royer’s for Valentine’s Day in 2015.

It took more than 40 years of playing golf, but Jack O’Hara recorded his first hole-in-one on June 5, 2018.

He was part of a foursome participating in a senior men’s league at Spring Creek Golf Course in Hershey. They were on the eighth hole.

“Hit the green about four inches behind the hole, [the ball] curled around, dropped in,” he said. “That was really fun. We all just kind of jumped and started screaming.”

At 65, O’Hara still brings plenty of youthful enthusiasm to his job as a seasonal independent delivery driver for Royer’s. He has been with Royer’s since Valentine’s Day 2015, having responded to a newspaper help-wanted ad shortly after moving to the area from Richmond, Va., with his wife, Terrie.

“I love doing this,” he said one afternoon at the start of his shift. He was wearing boots, jeans, a fleece jacket and a ball cap.

O’Hara spent 40 years in the printing industry, during which he was a customer service manager overseeing 19 customer service representatives in five states. Covering that much territory meant plenty of time behind the wheel, time that he put to good use.

“A lot of windshield time, a lot of time to put your mind together, reflect, and think about how you can make someone’s day,” he said. “Customer service has always been one of my things that I’m really proud of.”

‘Instant love affair’

He credited his father, who was a funeral director in Pleasant Mount, Pa., for teaching him customer service and other skills. As a customer service representative himself, O’Hara worked on major accounts from across the country.

“You learn how to treat people,” he said. “You treat people well, that will come back on you 100 times. I always taught my CSRs to think positively. If your day starts off bad, it’s OK, start it over. It’s not the end of the world. There’s no issue or error that cannot be fixed. Forty years, I’ve been able to bring that with me.”

From his first Valentine’s Day with Royer’s, he said, “It was an instant love affair for myself. I wanted to do something. I’d been looking around. Being new the community, this opportunity helped me to learn a lot about the area, the community, and meet a lot of people.

“A lot of people that I deliver to, I deliver to maybe two or three times a year,” he said. “And it’s always great to go back and see someone, say hi.”

That first year, he also worked at Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. More recently, the store has needed him on additional occasions. He typically works three-hour shifts for Royer’s. (During the golfing season, he also works in the pro shop at Spring Creek Golf Course.)

He offered this endorsement to anyone interested in becoming a seasonal independent delivery driver for Royer’s:

“If you’re looking to do something, and if you’re the type of person that likes to meet people, talk to people, and help people out, I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s something people should at least check out. I really find it very fulfilling. If you can bring some joy into someone’s life, I think that means a lot.”

If you or someone you know would like additional information about seasonal independent delivery driver opportunities, please call or stop by your nearest Royer’s store and ask for the delivery room manager.

Be like Liz: Join Royer’s as a holiday helper for Valentine’s Day

Liz Bazewicz has been a holiday helper in Hershey for some 15 years.

Liz Bazewicz still marvels at what she saw that first winter some 15 years ago when she first joined Royer’s Flowers as a holiday helper.

“The volume,” she said. “I had no idea what was involved in putting together Valentine’s Day.”

As Cupid comes calling once again, Royer’s is counting on seasonal mainstays such as Bazewicz to augment its regular staff during what amounts to the floral industry’s version of the Super Bowl.

Royer’s has a range of holiday helper openings with flexible hours available at royers.com/careers.

Bazewicz initially was drawn to Royer’s at a point when her three children were sufficiently grown and she wasn’t needed at home all day.

“I was bored, and the opportunity arose [with Royer’s],” she said. “I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for Valentine’s Day, and I knew I loved being around flowers, so I thought I’d give it a try.”

‘Real camaraderie’

Bazewicz has always worked at the Hershey store. She’s a fixture at major holidays and during homecoming season, primarily to wrap orders but also to help with any number of other behind-the-scenes tasks.

“I am still amazed at the planning and the organization that it takes to pull off these holidays,” she said, “and how successfully they do it. Speaking more than three weeks before Valentine’s Day, she noted that Royer’s already was in production for the holiday.

“It’s such an incredible well-oiled machine in terms of timing and personnel and getting everything done in a timely fashion so that there are no crises,” she said.

Asked what she likes most about her job, Bazewicz cited teamwork.

“Anybody that’s coming in new is going to be trained properly on what needs to be done,” she said. “They don’t have to feel like they’re going to be left alone to figure it out on their own. It’s well orchestrated.

“And we have fun. We really, honestly do. We joke around. And because people are so helpful toward me, I try to be so helpful toward them. So there’s a real camaraderie that I feel is really important. I literally wouldn’t come back if I didn’t feel cared about.”

Bazewicz, 61, noted that floral work is fast-paced and physically challenging.

“Number one, you are on your legs all day long, period, amen, end of story,” she said. “And there is lifting, there’s no question about that. And if you’re not comfortable or able to do that amount of lifting, then certainly you ask for help.”

It’s good, hard work for someone who wants to be physically active, Bazewicz said, that brings with it a deep sense of satisfaction.

“To be a part of this process where you can pull this off is almost an amazing accomplishment,” she said. “You need to be prepared to work hard. But I think it’s very rewarding. A job well done.”

Royer’s Flowers hosting three blood drives this winter in partnership with Central PA Blood Bank

Royer’s is teaming up with the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank to host blood drives at three stores this winter.

Anyone attempting to donate to “Buds for Blood” with receive a free bouquet.

On Jan. 31, Royer’s stores at 201 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, and 805 Loucks Road, York, will host bloodmobiles from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

The third blood drive is March 16 at the Camp Hill store, 3015 Gettysburg Road. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., coinciding with that day’s Royer’s Kids Club event.

Appointments are not needed, but donors should have ID, eat within four hours of giving blood, and stay well hydrated. Orange juice and snacks will be provided after they donate.

Winter can be a challenging time for blood banks, in part because severe weather and cold and flu season can reduce the number of blood drives and the pool of potential donors. The busy holidays also reduce the amount of time people have to donate. Yet demand for blood is high because increased traffic at the holidays results in more accidents.

The Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank works to promote, secure and coordinate the region’s blood supply. The non-profit organization supplies blood to area hospitals, where each day patients use between 275 and 300 units of blood and products derived from blood.

Royer’s Kids Club springs into new year with free event Jan. 12 in all stores

It’s a paradox of nature that just as winter begins, the amount of daylight slowly starts to increase.

In other words, spring is coming. It makes a special appearance at all Royer’s Flowers & Gifts stores on Jan. 12 for the first Royer’s Kids Club event of 2019.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make a spring arrangement in a bird’s nest container using daisy pom pons, leatherleaf fern, baby’s breath and spring plaid ribbon.

Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Registration is required by calling the nearest Royer’s store.

The other 2019 kids club events are March 16, June 29, Aug. 17 and Nov. 2.