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.
10 stems for $8.99
Handful bouquets with free local delivery
$59.99 shipped anywhere in continental U.S.
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.
A tilted pedestal container gives a unique, updated look to our everyday dish garden while retaining its vintage feel.
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.
A quote from the French impressionist painter Claude Monet adorns SaraJane Barto’s refrigerator: “I must have flowers, always and always.”
Barto, of Carlisle, takes those words to heart, buying flowers for others and herself.
“And I love gardening,” she said. “Couldn’t do without flowers.”
That passion for flowers prompted Barto to submit the winning entry in this summer’s Royer’s name-the-arrangement contest.
Her entry Cottage Garden was selected from among nearly 900 total submissions. The online contest ran Aug. 1-15.
As shown above, Barto received a Cottage Garden arrangement as her 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.
Barto said she has been a Royer’s customer for about a decade, after relocating from California.
“I love our Royer’s,” she said. “Their plants and flowers and leaves just last so long and are so pretty.”
She had won prizes before at home demonstrations or at bridal or baby showers, but nothing like Royer’s contest.
“This is much more important,” she said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 go 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?”
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.”