skip to main content

We need your help naming this arrangement; enter our contest by Aug. 15

We’re giving the current name of this new arrangement a green thumbs down.

And that explains why Royer’s annual name-the-arrangement contest is appealing to the public to rename what is now known as the Garden Box design.

The person who submits the winning name will receive this arrangement (retail value $54.99) as a prize.

The all-around arrangement features a square white-washed wooden box holding three sunflowers, charmelia alstroemeria, carnations, mini carnations, viking poms, purple spray asters, and raffia ribbon.

To enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest.

Limit one entry daily per email address, now through Aug. 15.

Behind the scenes: Royer’s expanded direct ship program serves 48 states

Royer’s Flowers has come a long way in the 80-some years since Hannah Royer grew African violets on her windowsill in Lebanon, Pa., that she sold at a local garment factory and at area farmer’s markets.

Today, while our brick-and-mortar stores and online presence serve customers in seven counties in south-central and eastern Pennsylvania, Royer’s has vastly expanded its direct ship program. The latter reaches the contiguous United States (everything but Alaska and Hawaii), offering $9.99 overnight delivery via FedEx.

But how does a florist in Lebanon, Pa., send flowers to, say, Lebanon, N.H., or Lebanon, Mo., while ensuring freshness upon arrival?

It takes an eye for detail, which is ingrained in the culture of our fourth-generation, family-owned company, and a commitment to delivering high-quality products and customer service that Royer’s has honed across decades.

In fact, Royer’s has never strayed from its roots: our flagship store in Lebanon is on the exact spot where Hannah and her husband, Lester, converted their two-car garage into a flower shop.

Designers in the Lebanon store create each direct ship arrangement, while our adjacent central design department packages them for afternoon pickup by FedEx.

You can catch a glimpse of this painstaking process in the photos below.

Taylor, a designer in Lebanon, uses two green twisty ties to combine the stems of this Elegant Orchids arrangement. Using white tape, she marks a cutting line one inch from the bottom of the stems. This tells the recipient where to give the stems a fresh cut to promote the uptake of water and nutrients.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once each day’s direct ship orders are created, they are delivered to the central design department.

In these photos, Kim, assistant manager in CD, prepares each arrangement for safe shipping. She begins by securing the glass vase with another green twisty tie and adding thick red shredded paper.

“It helps to pack it so it doesn’t shift too much,” Kim said of the paper.

The stem bottoms are wrapped in green sponge, which is attached using rubber bands. The sponge soaks in a water/fertilizer mixture for a few minutes until saturated. This will hydrate and nourish the stems until they arrive at their final destination, where they can be placed in a vase full of water.

In the meantime, a green plastic bag goes over the sponge as a barrier between the stems and the shredded paper and corrugated cardboard box.

The entire arrangement then goes into a decorated plastic wrap. The wrap protects the arrangement and makes it unmistakable that this is a special gift.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The flowers now are placed in the box, the stems inside the vase. More shredded paper is added, along with a packet of flower food and unpacking and care instructions.

These steps completed, the package will bide its time in a cooler until FedEx arrives to take it on a journey somewhere within the contiguous 48 states.

Go behind the scenes as four Royer’s colleagues start floral design training classes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Olivia joined Royer’s part-time at the holidays in 2016. Since December, she has worked full-time as a manager trainee at the Lancaster West store.

On this mid-June 2019 morning, she is in Royer’s training room at the company’s corporate complex in Lebanon. Olivia stands at a work table, in the second row. At the table to her left is Cassie, a manager trainee at the Camp Hill store who has been on the job for four months.

In the front row, also at tables, are Cheyenne, who joined the company a year ago in Camp Hill, and Julia, who has worked in sales in Wernersville for a year and a half.

Cheyenne and Julia have some design experience, but each of the four colleagues is here for the first of what ultimately could be 18 floral design training classes in the coming year or so.

Each lasting a day, the classes will take the students from the very basics of design to the complexities of event work such as weddings.

This promises to be a hands-on experience, under the tutelage of Woody Felty, Royer’s vice president of merchandising/design trainer. He stands at the front of the room, which has its door closed to the adjacent wholesale department.

The students are eager to dive in, but they won’t even touch a flower for the first hour.

‘We are on the cutting edge’

Woody explains how design class is much more than “just learning how to stick flowers in a vase.

“You’re going to learn how to sell it. You’re going to learn how to package it. You’re going to learn how to upgrade it.”

He encourages the students to question why things are done the way they are.

“So I’m going to challenge you to ask those questions as well,” he says. “Ask me if you’re unsure because that’s how we stay on the cutting edge. … For a flower shop, Royer’s is pretty progressive. We are on the cutting edge of technology, designing and everything else for our market and for the demographics that we have in all our market areas.”

He emphasizes the importance of having fun while getting work done in a timely fashion. The key: efficiency.

“I don’t care if you’ve only been here a week, you’ve heard, ‘Be efficient, be effective,’ ” Woody says. “You don’t have to be crazy wild, you don’t have to be super-stressed or busy, steady pace.”

A student interrupts: “Work smarter not harder.”

It’s a mantra within the company, one that Ken Royer, the son of company founders Hannah and Lester Royer, taught Woody decades ago and endures today among newer employees.

Woody notes the product, time and energy that goes into making an arrangement. One of the benefits of having the classes at the corporate complex in Lebanon is that the students are only steps away from the company’s wholesale, dish garden and central design departments and the flagship retail location in the 16-store chain.

Woody notes that the basics the students learn will serve them 10 years hence if they get into event work. Teaching the basics ensures consistency within Royer’s seven-county footprint.

“If a customer orders in Camp Hill … for delivery in Reading, we need to assure them that this arrangement is going to look the same. If they saw it in the Camp Hill store … it’s going to be the same going out the door in Reading,” Woody says.

Arrangements must look like they do in photos that customers see, and they must be “mechanically sound” to withstand jostling during delivery. Woody wants the new designers to use wires when crafting their arrangements.

Royer’s carries five different thicknesses, or gauges, of wire, which can help a designer sure up a stem or position a flower a certain way.

Woody passes out a tool kit to each student, its contents including an apron, wire cutters, a knife, and a colorful, flexible piece of plastic with nubby “fingers” that suggests it would make a useful soap dish. It’s actually a flower stripper, used to remove foliage and thorns.

The stripper will make life easier for the designers, but not if they are too aggressive and damage the stem bark. If that happens, the damaged area is exposed to air and can dry out, which could cause a flower head to droop.

Like wire, floral tape comes in multiple versions: green, white and clear. Green is for use with green floral foam (and matches foliage); white is for white containers; clear for glass vases.

Floral tape can be used to create a grid across the opening of a container, which helps with arranging flowers and adds stability. Tape also helps to combine stems in a bouquet or to mask wire. Choice of color is important in helping to camouflage the tape so it doesn’t detract from the flowers themselves.

Cleaning and safety

The primary purpose of flowers in nature, Woody explains, is to set seed and reproduce. Cutting and arranging them fundamentally alters the role of flowers, but time is of the essence as flowers begin to deteriorate as soon as they are cut.

Refrigeration helps to slow down this deterioration, also known as senescence. It also limits the amount of exposure that flowers have to ethylene, a colorless and odorless gas that occurs in nature.

Fruit such as bananas and tomatoes give off high traces of ethylene and should be kept away from flowers, but bits of cut stems and leaves also emit the gas. This is why flower buckets and cooler floors have to be cleaned regularly and other preventive steps taken to remove sources of ethylene.

“A raw piece of fruit sitting on the shelf in the cooler next to a flower arrangement is going to cause that flower arrangement to not last as long as it could have,” Woody says. “You’ve reduced the potential.”

Woody next discussed safety. Royer’s requires all employees to watch a video on how to safely sharpen a knife and clean tools. After a busy holiday, knife blades get dull and turn green, reflecting a buildup of stems and vascular tissue.

“You’ve got to get that off of there because that harbors bacteria,” Woody says. Bacteria is unavoidable and requires constant vigilance. Twice each year, Royer’s requires that store coolers be emptied and cleaned with bleach.

Woody also discussed the importance of sharpening knives and scissors and using them safely and efficiently: cutting away from one’s body, seeing what is being cut, letting the tools do their jobs to reduce injury risk and bodily strain.

For efficiency’s sake, the dominant hand holds the knife continuously when designing, the other hand holds the stems and sticks them into the arrangement.

“Do not walk around the room with (the knife) in your hand,” Woody says. “If you have to walk to the cooler, close (the knife) and stick it in your pocket. Keep your knife closed.

“There’s nothing worse than walking into the cooler and you’ve got to cut a rubber band off a bunch of carnations to open them up and all of a sudden you don’t have anything to cut with. Then you’ve got to go back out, get a knife, get scissors. … Minimize those steps. We do enough steps in a day’s time, especially when we’re really busy.”

All of those details gone over (some to be elaborated upon later), it’s approximately 9:30 a.m., an hour into class.

“OK,” Woody says, “do you want to make some flowers?”

Send these Royer’s arrangements anywhere in the continental U.S. for $9.99

Family-owned Royer’s Flowers & Gifts has been a local florist for more than 80 years, with a commitment to delivering farm-fresh flowers and top-notch customer service.

That won’t ever change.

But that’s not stopping Royer’s from offering its local touch and original designs to a national audience.

Royer’s has introduced 12 new arrangements that can be shipped from its Lebanon, Pa., headquarters to anywhere in the continental United States for $9.99.

The arrangements, ranging in price from $44.99 to $74.99, require no arranging on the part of the recipient.

“Whether they’re shipping to Maine or California, North Dakota or Oklahoma, these arrangements will arrive looking like they came from the local florist,” said Tom Royer, the third-generation CEO. “And they are – the local florist in Lebanon, Pa.”

He noted that unlike some other online florists, Royer’s has no hidden fees or add-on costs.

“It’s just the stated price of the arrangement, which includes a glass vase, and the $9.99 FedEx delivery charge,” Tom said.

‘Fresher than local florists can provide’

Royer’s has offered a limited direct-ship program for years, but the new arrangements are more elaborate and more than double the number of options available to customers.

The arrangements are hand-crafted in our Lebanon store and packed and shipped by our central design department, which supplies fresh arrangements to our 16 stores in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

“With the efficiency of our supply chain, central design department and shipping operation, we can deliver flowers all over the United States that are even fresher than what most local florists can provide in their own markets,” Tom said.

Tom and Geoff Royer, vice president of central operations, make regular trips to South American flower farms to check on the quality of the product they are buying. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, they will inspect roses in the field that within two weeks are being delivered to customers in central Pennsylvania.

“We’ve developed an incredibly nimble operation in the eight-plus decades since my grandmother started growing and selling African violets to factory workers in Lebanon,” Tom said. “Now our customers have a more robust menu of Royer’s original arrangements they can send to 48 states for just $9.99 each. And they can take comfort in knowing the arrangements will arrive beautiful and fresh, no assembly required.”

 

 

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.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postcard from Quito, Ecuador

A field of babies breath and a breath-taking mountain view in Quito

Located in the northwest part of South America, Ecuador’s name betrays another fact about its geographic location. Ecuador is Spanish for equator, the imaginary line that separates the Earth into northern and southern hemispheres.

Quito, Ecuador’s capital, sits more than 9,000 feet above sea level. That combination – proximity to the equator and elevation – are what make Quito a near-perfect place to grow flowers. A 2015 article in the Financial Times noted that Ecuador was the world’s third-biggest exporter of cut flowers, 73 percent of which were roses.

“Roses grown at high altitude have a much longer growing cycle than those cultivated at sea level, up to 15 weeks as opposed to eight, so it is perfect for long-stemmed varieties with big heads,” said an official with a Dutch flower breeder. “The cold nights mean that you get a lot of bi-colors, with contrasting hues on the edges and the insides of petals, which are very sought after in certain markets.”

Tom Royer, our senior vice president and chief operating officer, had been to Quito on multiple occasions prior to his latest visit in September. His nephew, area manager Geoff Royer, had previously joined Tom on trips to flower farms in Bogota and Medellin in Colombia.

Product quality

Because more flower growers ship out of Bogota than Quito, freight costs are more competitive, Geoff said. Quito also has a higher minimum wage that gets passed along to flower buyers.

While Royer’s has tended to buy most of its roses from Colombia because of cost, Tom and Geoff felt compelled to visit Quito because of the undeniable quality of the product there.

This was Geoff’s first exposure to Quito.

The first thing you notice when you get into Quito is the landscape,” Geoff said. “Where Bogota is a plateau and very flat, Quito sits in a river valley.”

Elevation is elevating

Quito is some 700 feet higher in elevation that Bogota.

“That 700 feet is what makes all the difference,” Geoff said. “Because the flowers are closer to the sun, its intensity is much higher. This leads to bigger roses and brighter colors. You can buy the same varieties in both places, but in Quito they are that much better.”

Tom and Geoff wanted a first-hand look at “what’s out there and what’s new,” Geoff said. “We visited a few growers, some whom we’ve dealt with before and others not. As always, we are trying to find the best, longest-lasting product that’s out there.”

Among the Quito-grown products that Royer’s customers could be seeing:

–Hydrangea: “It’s a bigger head and the colors are different from the white and blue that we carry now. There are even some with variegation in the colors,” Geoff said.

–Painted rose: This is a white rose with outside petals hand-painted red. “We sometimes have that that variety of white rose, but the painting is different from anything we’ve had before,” Geoff said.

–Babies breath: Tom and Geoff visited a new grower. “What we get now is called Million Star, a variety that has a smaller flower. This grower offers that but also other varieties with bigger flowers and sturdier stems,” Geoff said.

 

ROYER’S NAME-THE-ARRANGEMENT CONTEST LANDS WITH A ‘CITRUS SPLASH’

You might call Karen Nowak a late bloomer when it comes to contests.

Nowak, a retired teacher from Leola, Lancaster County, said she never wins anything. She didn’t even enter Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ online name-the-arrangement contest right away before submitting a different suggestion daily for a week.

“Yeah,” she said, “I just thought it was fun. Each day thinking, now what can I do?”

Fun and, ultimately, fruitful. Her submission “Citrus Splash” was selected as the winner among more than 900 entries in the contest, which ran July 15-31.

“Better late than never,” Nowak said upon learning of her win.

Debuting this fall, Citrus Splash will be available in four sizes, small through extra large. The arrangement, which Nowak will receive as a prize, features yellow alstroemeria and daisy pom pons, peach hypericum and mini carnations, and orange carnations.

Greg Royer, Royer’s president and CEO, said the response to the annual contest never ceases to impress him.

“The volume and creativity of the entries says a lot about how passionate our customers feel about flowers,” he said. “Congratulations to Karen and thank you to everyone who participated.”

TAKING A SHINE TO LOCALLY GROWN SUNFLOWERS

Every day, Royer’s makes dozens – if not hundreds – of flower deliveries to homes and businesses in seven counties. It’s likely that you’ll encounter one of our vehicles on any given day.

What’s less well known is that we’re also picking up flowers. In the summer, we make regular visits to Elm Family Flowers in Lititz, which supplies us with thousands of gorgeous, locally grown sunflowers.

In fact, we buy all of Elm’s sunflowers, which we sell by the loose stem and in a variety of arrangements that we make.

Native to the Americas, sunflowers were domesticated around 1000 B.C., according to Good Housekeeping. Not only are they beautiful, but they also produce seeds (1,000 to 2,000 per plant) and oil.

When they are budding, sunflowers literally turn toward the sun, a trait known as heliotropism. The French word for sunflowers is “tournesol,” or “turns with the sun.”

‘SUPER FRESH’

Daniel Lapp of Elm Family Flowers said his father bought their Elm Road dairy farm in 1986. In 2007, the Lapps augmented the dairy farm by starting to grow flowers. Elm has supplied sunflowers to Royer’s for five or six years.

“Daniel and his family are a joy to work with,” said Tom Royer, Royer’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We are glad we can work with a local grower who gives us super fresh sunflowers.”

Today, the Lapp farm devotes one acre to sunflowers. To put that into perspective, farms planted 1.7 million acres of sunflowers across the United States in 2014.

Elm’s growing season begins in late March and continues until the final harvest in early fall. Lapp said the first seeds begin in a heated greenhouse in what are known as plug trays. After a couple weeks, they are transplanted into the ground but covered with fabric that allows sun and moisture to get through but protects against frost.

“It retains a little of the daytime heat during the night,” Lapp said.

The transplanted seeds require 80 to 90 days before they can be harvested. By comparison, seeds planted directly into the ground will require only 50 to 60 days.

The last sunflowers of the year will be planted by Aug. 10 to beat potentially harmful cold temperatures.

“I usually figure Oct. 10 or 15 is when we’re going to get a frost,” Lapp said.

No matter the temperature outside, of course, sunflowers project warmth wherever they are.