For the holidays, the song says, you can’t beat home sweet home.
But while the sunshine of a friendly gaze can warm your heart, home also is where you can find practical solutions to Christmas complications.
Take hairspray, for instance.
You can spray it on nail polish to make it dry faster as you get ready for the office party, or on wrapped presents to make them glossy and stand out.
Our favorite holiday hack, however, is the power and punch hairspray can give to your Christmas wreath.
A wreath’s round shape and evergreen composition are why it is a symbol of eternal life. Evergreen trees have long been revered for their ability to survive winter.
Of course, even a fresh wreath will become dry over time. A cut Christmas tree will lose needles, but you can slow the process by giving it daily drinks of water.
That’s not possible with a wreath. Instead, you can seal in the wreath’s moisture with hairspray. It acts like glue and holds the needles on.
For best results and to avoid messes, spray the wreath outdoors before you hang it on a door, window or wall. Hang it on the outside of a door (it can get cooked if placed behind glass) and out of direct sunlight.
If you want to be happy in a million ways, the song says, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.
We typically think of the North Pole when it comes to Christmas, but the most popular holiday plant originates with our neighbor to the south.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
In fact, Poinsett’s death in 1851 is commemorated every Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.
Did You Know?
The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
Poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets: An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts (leaves) might have a slight tummy ache.
Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states. For instance, the 20,000 poinsettias that Royer’s receives each year are from Lancaster County.
Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.
Keeping your poinsettia looking great this Christmas takes two easy steps, but did you know with a few more steps you can have a wonderful poinsettia next Christmas as well?
When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, water the plant.
Keep the poinsettia in a room with temperatures between 60 and 72 degrees. Keep the plant out of hot and cold drafts, such as those from a heating vent or open door.
When leaves begin to drop, let dry slightly between watering.
In late spring (early May) cut back plant to 6 inches, shake free of soil and repot in new potting soil, then resume regular watering. Fertilize with a 30-10-10 fertilizer twice monthly. Stop fertilizing November 1st until December 30th.
Place outdoors in a warm sunny location when the temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees.
Pinch the tips of new shoots when they reach 6 to 8 inches long until late July. Continue to fertilize every two weeks.
Bring indoors before cold nights (early September) and place indoors in full sun. Three to six hours of sunlight is needed.
In order for poinsettias to bloom, they must have 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day for 40 days (late September through October). Place in a dark place such as a closet or cover with a bag from early evening and remove the next morning so that the plant is in total darkness.
When #6 is followed, your poinsettia will bloom at Christmas, but remember, it only takes 10 minutes of light per day during the time it was dark and your plant won’t bloom until January or February.
This is part of a series of occasional blog posts about important events in Royer’s history as the company marks its 85th anniversary in 2022.
Like any great success story, that of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts began humbly in 1937. Hannah (Mom) Royer grew African violets on the windowsill of her Lebanon home. A neighbor who worked at a local garment factory offered to sell some of the plants to her co-workers.
The success that one day would make Royer’s one of the largest florists in America didn’t happen overnight. Hannah’s husband, a teacher in the Lebanon School District, added greenhouses to provide additional growing space.
In 1947, Lester joined the flower business full time. Around that time, the Royers converted their garage into a retail store called South Side Flower Shop and Hannah attended floral design school in Gloucester, Mass.
‘Most beautiful place to shop’
It wasn’t until 1964 that the family – son Ken was a partner in the business by then; his wife, Jean, was the office manager – introduced what it called a “modern flower shop” to replace the remodeled garage. That new store, at 810 S. 12th St., remains the flagship among the 16 locations in six counties that Royer’s operates today.
Royer’s celebrated the new store with a grand opening March 25-27, 1965.
“You are invited to the Royer’s South Side,” read the headline on a full-page newspaper ad.
The copy continued: “To serve you better, we have created this area’s most beautiful place to shop.”
Not only was the grand opening an opportunity to showcase the new store, but its timing was strategic, too, as Easter fell on April 18 that year.
The photo above appeared in the Lebanon Daily News on the first day of the grand opening. In it, Ken Royer, right, presented “floral tributes” to Lebanon Mayor J. Gordon Smith, left, and a representative of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“The firm,” the caption read, “has completely modernized its quarters at 810 S. Twelfth St.”
In fairy tales, pumpkins turn into horse-drawn carriages.
At Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, one lucky person will turn a pumpkin into a prize simply by entering this year’s name-the-arrangement contest.
The person who submits the winning name will receive a complimentary mounded pumpkin arrangement, retail value $44.99.
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. To enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest. Limit one entry daily per email address, Sept. 14-18.
Mum’s the word at the March 14 Royer’s Kids Club event. Molly O’Mum, that is.
Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make their own St. Patrick’s Day mum character, complete with smiling face, shamrock ribbon and green top hat.
Slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Registration is required by calling your the nearest Royer’s store.
The other remaining 2020 kids club events are June 27, Aug. 15 and Nov. 7.
In 2019, according to aboutflowers.com, 28 percent of American adults (37 percent men, 19 percent women) purchased flowers for Valentine’s Day. Roses led the way, accounting for 84 percent of those purchases.
If you favor tradition, we have you covered with lots of rose options available for delivery or in-store pickup. But if you’re looking for a new twist, we can help with that, too.
Here are 10 unique ways to incorporate flowers into Valentine’s Day: 1. Try different colors: Red roses are No. 1 in popularity, but other colors such as yellow and pink and mixed colors are terrific options, too. 2. Experiment with other flowers: Consider carnations, tulips, orchids, lilies, which will give you even more color and cost options. 3. Send to your kids: Everyone loves getting flowers, and certainly your children will be excited when the flower delivery is for them. Our Sweet Hugs Bud Vase features two roses, Hershey’s Kisses and a six-inch white plush bear. 4. Go on a flower-shopping date: Unsure which flowers to give your significant other? Turn it into a positive by making a date out of stopping at your local Royer’s before dinner or a movie. Our staff is eager to help. 5. Thank a friend: How about a loving gesture of flowers for that loyal friend; you know, the one who stood by you through all of the ups and downs in your love life? 6. Reward great service: Every day, our lives are positively affected by others, from mail carriers to plumbers, waitstaff to dry cleaners. A single stem will let them know that you value the hard work they perform. 7. Make a candy heart rose bouquet: Place a clear glass vase containing roses inside a larger glass vase and fill the gap with candy conversation hearts. 8. Include a heart-felt note: Add oomph to your flowers when you craft a loving message to your significant other. You can bring it with you when you come to any of our stores. We’ll gladly include it with your delivery. 9. Give a gift to your hosts: Are you attending any parties around the holiday? If so, a bouquet of flowers is a thoughtful way to thank your hosts. 10. Commit a random act of flowers: Hand a dozen roses to someone with instructions for them to keep one flower and pass the rest of the bouquet to someone else, and on and on until you’ve touched 12 lives in a positive, loving way.
Maybe one or more of these suggestions will catch your fancy, or perhaps it will inspire you to come up with your own creative way to use flowers this Valentine’s Day.
The bottom line is that flowers are a time-honored way to show your love. And remember that options abound and our staff is always here to assist you.
It’s not hard to still see the first grader in Emily Swanger, although she’s much taller now and long ago outgrew her “Cool Chick” T-shirt.
Emily had worn the shirt the last time we photographed her, on the day in November 2007 that Royer’s delivered a bouquet of carnations to her at South Lebanon Elementary School in Lebanon County. The rest of her classmates and teachers each received a carnation.
The special delivery was Emily’s reward for being the grand-prize winner that October during the Royer’s Kids Club’s first birthday party.
Emily, who graduated from Cedar Crest High School this spring, said her mother, Norma, regularly brought her to kids club events, which have always been open to children ages 5 to 12.
“My mom said I wanted to keep coming after I was too old,” Emily quipped.
At Cedar Crest, Emily was nominated for senior of the year and with a classmate took first place in a Future Business Leaders of America competition in the category of hospitality management. This summer she is working at the Jigger Shop in Mount Gretna and interning at Gerhart Financial Services in Lebanon, with a mission trip to Costa Rica in the middle.
In August, Emily will begin her studies at Cairn University near Philadelphia, where she plans to major in business administration and minor in Spanish.
She also made time in July to come by our flagship Lebanon store.
At Royer’s invite, Emily helped to recreate the photo of her with her bouquet that had appeared in the Lebanon Daily News in 2007. This time, Candace Oliver, manager of the Lebanon store, posed with Emily; Candace held a bouquet of carnations while Emily held the newspaper clipping.
With a series of photos taken, Candace gifted the bouquet to Emily.
Along with that, we wish her the best of luck in college.
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.
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?”