At the top of this year’s Christmas list, let’s take some of the hectic out of holiday decorating.
’Tis the season to be jolly, but it also can be a time of great stress. While Hallmark movies and Pinterest boards can be great sources of inspiration, don’t underestimate your own style and creativity when it comes to design and budget.
You can do it yourself and do it your way.
That’s the message from Royer’s designers Kim Orris and Steven Shughart, colleagues at our Carlisle store, who shared their secrets for less restive, more festive holiday home decorating.
Span the holidays
Santa rides in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You might put your Christmas tree up before taking the first bite of Thanksgiving turkey. The two holidays flow into one another like gravy across a scoop of mashed potatoes.
In that spirit, you can use a pine wreath as a Thanksgiving centerpiece before hanging it on your front door during Christmas. Wreaths also can be hung inside on a door or wall.
Borrow from nature
To enhance a centerpiece, consider taking a walk. It’s not only good for mind and body, but you can find branches, leaves, pine cones, acorns to bring the outside inside.
“You can go on a walk and clip a branch and put it in a vase,” Steven said. “You see that in almost any magazine anymore.”
“And along with our gift items, it looks gorgeous,” Kim said.
Embrace what’s free
What’s more, what you find outside costs nothing.
“Sometimes the free stuff is what really makes a house feel lived in, like it’s collected,” Steven said.
You also can save money by using items you already have, such as filling a vase or bowl with Christmas balls.
“You don’t have to have the oval centerpiece with the two candles,” Steven said.
“Or you can have that and add to it with the branches or the balls or the greenery just spread around,” Kim said. Or run a small set of battery-powered lights down the table.
If you’re having a holiday party, consider buying a handful of flowers and spreading the heads on the table.
“It doesn’t have to be designed,” Kim said.
Ultimately, there is no single way to deck the halls. You should find comfort and joy in doing what pleases your eye.
Lisa Birkholz of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, always is eager for autumn.
“Fall’s my favorite time of year,” she said.
And with even more reason this year. Her submission in Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual name-the-arrangement contest – “Fall Hues” – was selected as the winner among more than 500 online entries.
Kathy Kissling’s entry “Fall’s Delight” (one of six she contributed overall) was the runner up. Birkholz and Kissling, also of South Lebanon Township, each will receive the all-around arrangement (retail value $34.99) as their prize.
The arrangement features an autumnal color palette: lavender glass vase, orange rose and orange carnations, purple statice, red alstroemeria, sunflower. It measures 14 inches high and 11 inches wide.
The arrangement will debut this fall and will be available in all stores and as part of Royer’s direct-ship program serving the Lower 48 states.
The promise of summer warmth and sunshine arrives in early spring at a 20-acre farm in the village of Penryn, Lancaster County.
It comes in a five-gallon plastic bucket via a package-delivery service. The bucket contains 100,000 seeds that will provide locally grown sunflowers to Royer’s customers from June to October.
“One seed equals one flower,” said Daniel Lapp, the owner of Elm Family Flowers.
Approximately a dozen years ago, Lapp called Royer’s CEO Tom Royer in search of a customer and has been supplying Royer’s stores ever since. The hybrid seed Lapp uses produces beautiful flowers that are also pollenless, which means they won’t leave a mess in someone’s home or draw insects.
Not only do sunflowers have a solar-like appearance, but they actually turn toward the sun while growing, a process known as heliotropism. It’s little wonder, then, that no other flower is more closely linked to summer.
It’s a vibe that customers also want in the doldrums of winter, which is why Royer’s offers sunflowers year-round, both loose and in 15 to 20 arrangements. Lapp harvests until the first frost in October, at which point Royer’s turns to a grower in Peru to fill its need until the next spring.
While the South American sunflowers are of high quality, it takes five or six days for a shipment to arrive. By contrast, Lapp is 20 minutes from Royer’s in Lebanon, shortening the amount of time from farm to customer and all but eliminating travel-related duress for the flowers.
“It’s very convenient,” Royer said. “They last a long time.”
In fact, Lapp’s sunflowers can provide customers with two to three weeks of enjoyment.
But growing sunflowers, like any crop, is wrought with plenty of challenges, mostly having to do with the variable of weather. Going into any growing season Lapp knows that 40 percent of his seeds are unlikely to germinate.
April 15 is associated with Tax Day, but it’s also a benchmark for Lapp’s farm: It’s when his first weekly sunflower planting begins. Six weeks in, this year’s first crop was rising in four rows of green splendor. But the second planting was yielding little.
“I probably didn’t even have 1 percent of them come up,” Lapp said, blaming cold, wet weather.
“Here’s the third (planting),” he continued, moving to his right. “This wider one is the fourth one. Here’s the fifth one; that’s coming up. The sixth one here practically didn’t come up at all yet because we didn’t have any rain.”
Lapp’s teen-age son James was working on the seventh planting under bright sunshine on a day when the high temperature was expected to reach the low 80s without precipitation.
“He’s trying to plant them a little deeper right now because it’s so dry,” Lapp said.
If spring can prove too cold or too wet, summer can deliver too much heat and too little rain. Germination is his biggest challenge, Lapp said, followed by the risk of cool, wet weather making the plants susceptible to a fungus called botrytis.
The farm (it also grows vegetables and is certified organic) grows sunflowers on one and a half to two acres. A walk-behind precision seeder opens the soil, plants a seed and covers it.
The goal is to plant the seeds a half-inch deep, but that will be adjusted to one inch in the summer if necessary to protect the seed against heat and get it closer to moisture.
But Lapp must be careful not to put the seed too deep in the ground as a heavy rain can pack the soil so hard that the seed can’t come up. Heavy rain followed by sunshine can turn the soil into a crust.
If germination is light, those seeds that do come up tend to be taller with thicker stems because they have more room to grow.
“Which sometimes a bunch of five you can’t even hold in one hand, which isn’t ideal,” Lapp said.
Wetter weather produces taller, fatter stems; if the weather is drier, stems are shorter and thinner. Thick stems can take up too much space in a bouquet, and the flowers can get too big.
A stem with a half-inch diameter is ideal, Lapp said. For Royer’s, his only sunflower customer, he bands them in bunches of five, 12 to 15 bunches to a bucket.
Germination and weather also determine the quantity of the crop.
“Once we’re harvesting, I report to (Tom Royer) every week to give him an idea what I’m going to have the next week,” Lapp said.
As much as they try to coordinate supply and demand, Lapp said Royer’s has accommodated fluctuations.
“Tom’s been really good at moving them,” Lapp said. “If we get a flush of them, he’ll try to run a sale or a special” to help move the excess inventory.
Come harvest time, Lapp first strips the mature plants of their leaves. Then he cuts the stems with a sickle until he has five in one hand.
If sunflowers are an embodiment of sunshine, banding them is a time for his son to shine.
“James is pretty good with the harvesting part of it,” Lapp said against the backdrop of the clicking precision seeder, which James is operating.
“He’s figured out a way to get that rubber band on his hand before he reaches for the sunflowers,” Lapp said.
Father and son pile the banded sunflowers in the paths between each planting until they are finished with each harvest.
The sunflowers will be moved to buckets filled with water until later that day or the next one when Royer’s makes one of its three weekly pickups throughout the season.
Flowers are beautiful all on their own, but it takes talent, dedication and resources to hand-craft an eye-catching, long-lasting floral arrangement and deliver it to a recipient’s home or place of work.
In its newsletter, the Royer’s Flowers & Gifts Kids Club regularly showcases the tools and tricks of the trade that our florists draw upon to do the very best work for our customers.
We’ve compiled some of them below. We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into the dynamic nature of a flower shop.
Superman wears a red cape on his back. Royer’s Flowers designers have something similar, except they wear it on the front.
It’s an apron, and its pockets hold all the tools they need to be floral super heroes: a knife to cut flowers; scissors to cut thicker stems or ribbon; calculator to add flower prices; pen/pencil to take notes from a customer; highlighter to mark special delivery times and other can’t-miss information; permanent marker to identify the contents of boxes before they are packed away; even a mini-screwdriver in case something needs tightening.
Aprons are embroidered with the Royer’s Flowers logo and have a place for a name tag so customers can identify the designer and how long he or she has been with the company.
The tape at the top of these vases looks like a game of tic-tac-toe, doesn’t it? It’s a tape grid, and it helps us space flower stems evenly. It also provides support to the stems so they stand tall and look their best.
We use three types of tape depending on the color of the container: clear tape for glass, white tape for white containers, and green tape for baskets and other dark non-glass containers.
The reason for the different colors is that we want our customers to focus on their beautiful flowers and not the tape.
Those green blocks in the photo are called floral foam. The foam holds cut flower stems in place to make arrangements look pretty. It also holds water so the flowers last as long as possible.
If you use scissors for craft projects at school or home, you might have a future working in a flower shop! We use several different types of scissors in our stores. Some are just for cutting flowers, some are made to cut thicker stems such as evergreens or lemon leaf, and others are just for cutting ribbon. We never use ribbon scissors on flowers because the blades would get dull and wouldn’t cut the fabric straight.
No matter what you do with scissors, it’s always important to use them safely.
If you play soccer or baseball or another sport for a team, then you probably wear a uniform. Maybe it includes a shirt with your team’s name on front and your number on the back.
Royer’s employees are part of a team, too. They might not be kicking or throwing balls, but they are constantly in motion. They practice how to make beautiful arrangements so they are ready for their big games, such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas.
They wear uniforms, too. They wear the Royer’s logo on their shirts because it helps to make each employee feel and work like part of a unified team. It also makes it easy for customers to know who they can ask for help.
When we sell flowers, we put them in pretty plastic wrap. It’s kind of like when you wear a coat or sweater: the wrap helps keep the flowers warm and protects them from the wind when they go outside. The wrap also makes the flowers look extra special, like a gift.
Our delivery vans and the men and women who drive them are crucial to the success of our business.
Once one of our designers creates a gorgeous flower arrangement, it’s up to our drivers to deliver them safely and on time. Of course, the flowers have to look as good as they did when they left the store, which can be a big challenge when it’s really hot or cold or stormy.
Our drivers might be the only Royer’s Flowers employee that customers see if they ordered over the phone or online. So we have to hire people who are safe drivers but also happy and friendly and keep their uniforms and vans clean because they represent our company.
Drivers have a lot of responsibility, but they also have the good fortune to deliver presents of flowers to people.
“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.”
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.
Candy corn is so popular that it seems to arrive in grocery stores earlier every year.
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual name-the-arrangement contest is getting a head start on fall, too.
The new all-around arrangement features a ceramic pumpkin, measures 12 inches high and 10 inches wide and comprises carnations and daisy poms in fall colors.
To enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest. Limit one entry daily per email address, through Aug. 12.
One winner and one runner-up will be selected from entries received by Connells Maple Lee and its sister company in Pennsylvania. Both the winner and runner-up will receive one of the arrangements (retail value $36.99) as their prize.
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.”
“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.
Lori Macchi describes herself as a “fall weather person.”
“I’ll take that season any day,” she said.
Macchi’s fondness for fall and flowers made her a prime candidate to enter Royer’s contest to name a mounded pumpkin arrangement.
Her entry, Checkered Harvest, was selected as the winner among more than 1,400 online submissions received Sept. 14-18. Macchi’s prize is one of the arrangements.
The all-around arrangement measures 11.5 inches high, 13 inches long and 12 inches wide. It features a six-inch white ceramic pumpkin, country buffalo gingham bow, roses, alstroemeria, carnations, poms and hypericum. Click here if you’d like to order a Checkered Harvest arrangement.
Tulips arrived in Western Europe in the late 1500s from their native Turkey, looking unlike anything else on the continent.
As an import, they “commanded the same exoticism that spices and Oriental rugs did,” according to Investopedia.com.
And by the first part of the 1600s, the rarest bulbs traded for as much as six times the average annual salary. This phenomenon came to be known as “tulip mania.”
The allure of tulips remains strong centuries later. Royer’s celebrates tulips every year at this time. Our annual tulip promotion runs through Jan. 31 with a combination of specials and everyday value.
There are places called Tulip in seven states, but you can send 15 boxed tulips anywhere in the continental United States for $59.99 as part of our direct-ship program.
New Vintage Tulips collection
Our new Vintage Tulips arrangements are available in four sizes and come with three (pink or purple vase), 10, 20 or 40 mixed color tulips (colors will vary). New this year, each arrangement features accents of dusty miller and wax flower for a more vintage/Victorian feel compared with the country look of previous years.
Emily Mallis, Royer’s marketing manager, noted that dusty miller “is soft and slightly fuzzy and is a lighter green with some silver tones or maybe a white dusting.” Wax flower, she said, “has a beautiful fragrance when cut or touched.”
The Vintage Tulips line ranges from $16.99 to $89.99 and can be picked up at any of our 16 area stores or delivered within our market area.
As a hardy, affordable symbol of perfect love, tulips also are a popular option for Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps you’ve heard the entertainer Tiny Tim, singing in a falsetto and strumming a ukulele, performing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”
The lyrics include:
“Knee deep in flowers we’ll stray
We’ll keep the showers away
And if I kiss you in the garden
In the moonlight, will you pardon me?
And tip-toe through the tulips with me”
Several sure signs of the season: cooler temperatures, candy corn on grocery store shelves and the arrival of our fall menu.
Emily Mallis, Royer’s marketing manager, shared her insight on six arrangements making their debuts. 2820/Foliage Terrarium:
A tilted pedestal container gives a unique, updated look to our everyday dish garden while retaining its vintage feel. 2838/Rectangle Succulent:
Succulents are in, and we are keeping them trendy with this stylized design. This two-plant dish garden gives an earthy feeling, with the stone container and moss as finishing touches. 3768/Darling with Spray Roses, Extra Large:
Charmelia adds height and removing the lilies and gerbera daisy makes for a fuller look in shades of purple and pastel pinks. Ginger spray roses add a finishing touch. 3780/Triple Rose Bud Vase:
This new style of triple rose vase, with its wider lip, enhances a shift to more of an all-around look that’s a great size for an office desk or end table in the home. 3788/Baby Girl Steps:
The new L- shaped, three-quarter round design replaces the all-around look from last year. The increased height and width give it a more impressive look, with pink or blue carnations instead of an overall garden color. 3795/English Garden Vase:
We wanted to increase the number of $125 vase selections. This English garden vase was redesigned to be fuller. It no longer includes curly willow and uses stock, roses and other value flowers in place of lilies and gerbera daisies.
If you haven’t received a copy of the fall menu in the mail, you can pick one up at any Royer’s store.