Area high schools compete in many ways, from football games to tennis matches, debates to television quiz shows.
Here’s a new one for them to consider: prom flowers. Except in this competition, there are only winners.
For the first time, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts is returning a percentage of online prom sales to participating area high schools in the form of cash or flowers. For total sales of $2,500 or more, schools will earn 15 percent; for sales below $2,500, they will earn 10 percent.
The schools can use the reimbursed cash or flowers at their discretion.
“It’s not school against school, but we are hoping to generate a little friendly competition among them,” said Greg Royer, president and CEO of family-owned Connells Maple Lee. “If a school registers and records even one online prom sale, it wins. We look forward to seeing which school comes out on top.”
Prom season has begun and continues into early June. Connells Maple Lee has compiled a list of high schools and dates of their proms in the seven counties in which the company operates.
By going to cmlflowers.com/prom, dance-goers can select their school from a drop-down menu and then shop for corsages and boutonnieres.
As of Tuesday, two schools had registered to participate. If a school has not registered, it can do so by having one of its prom organizers contact Jaime Kevles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North America to South America. Europe, Africa and Asia.
Oh, the places we’ll go to procure high-quality flowers.
We’ve previously told you about our regular trips to Bogota, Colombia, which has an ideal climate for growing roses, for instance.
Here’s a sampling of other flowers and the countries from which we source them:
Hydrangeas/pompons: Medellin, Colombia
Gerbera daisies: Canada
Carnations/alstromeria: Bogota, Colombia
Gypsophilia: Quito, Ecuador
Sunflowers: United States
Sweetheart roses: Holland
The pleasure of your company is requested at the 2017 Bridal Spectacular.
The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. April 23 at Aladdin Shrine Center, 1801 Gateway Circle, Grove City.
Connells Maple Lee will be among the vendors, showing a variety of bouquets for brides and attendants and table arrangements highlighting popular colors and trends for this year.
The Bridal Spectacular will feature wedding vendors and health and beauty experts from Columbus and the surrounding area.
Other offerings will include in-home job opportunities, food tasting, product demonstrations. More than 35 door prizes include a free outdoor ceremony package ($500 value) from Aladdin Shrine, complete with setup and an extra hour and a half of event time, and a grand prize of a free night’s stay for two at Candlewood Suites in Columbus.
Guests also may register to win a four-night/five-day honeymoon package, including roundtrip airfare to Blue Diamond Rivera Maya Resort.
You can join us for free by downloading and presenting this Bridal Spectacular 2017 ad. Aladdin Shrine Center offers abundant free parking.
No fooling, we’re offering an Easter-themed design class on April 1.
Jill Elmore, our award-winning design manager, will teach the class, which will run from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in our central design department, 2035 Stringtown Road, Grove City. The building is behind our Grove City store.
The price of $50 plus tax includes all materials necessary to make a fresh spring arrangement featuring tulips, lilies, carnations and daisies with accents of silk forsythia.
The arrangement is in a separate dish sitting on a bubble bowl. (Please note that the color or style of the bunny shown in the accompanying photos may change based on availability.)
Jill will offer ideas for other items that can be placed inside the bubble bowl and other centerpiece ideas for Easter tables.
Registration is required by visiting any of our stores in Bexley, Powell or Grove City or by calling Jill at 614-539-4000, ext. 119. Payment is required at the time of registration.
Entire TV shows these days are dedicated to tiny houses, so perhaps it should come as little surprise that mini-gardens are popular again.
Growing plants in transparent containers dates to Greece at least 2,500 years ago, according to University of Missouri Extension. The practice in the United States is traced to New England.
“The invention of the terrarium as we know it is credited to Dr. N.B. Ward, a 19th-century London physician. … While studying a sphinx moth emerging from a chrysalis he had buried in moist earth in a closed bottle, he was amazed to see a seedling fern and some grass growing inside. He watched them grow for four years, during which time not one drop of water was added nor was the cover removed.”
Closed terrariums are best at keeping humidity inside (followed by open terrariums and dish gardens), so they only have to be watered once per week. Terrariums and plants are great for offices as they are known to improve air quality, boost productivity and reduce stress.
Bunny Face, I love you. Bunny Face, I need you.
If you’re between the ages of 5 and 12, you can make your own Bunny Face to bring home for Easter.
The Connells Maple Lee Kids Club will play host to a free kids club event March 25 in all stores. Besides making a carnation bunny, participants will receive a balloon.
Time slots are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Registration is required by calling your nearest store: 3014 E. Broad St., Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.
Day three found Tom Royer and Geoff Royer again in Bogota, again inspecting Valentine’s Day roses, this time at the Multiflora farm.
“The quality was very good from what we saw,” Geoff said. “It’s impossible to look at every bunch we get, but we make sure we go through the process with them about the cut point, again.”
As noted in our Day 2 entry, cut point is crucial. It’s the stage in a flower’s life when it is cut from the plant. The cut point has to be just right to ensure that our customers get the best quality and most value from their flowers.
Multiflora has invested in its processes to make them more accurate and efficient. Workers used to grade flowers in the field, so it was not as accurate as it could be, Geoff said.
Now the only thing they do in the field is sort the roses, long-stem vs. short stem. Now there’s a post-harvest building where the roses are graded more accurately, prepped and packed in boxes for shipping to customers such as Connells Maple Lee.
Multiflora now cools its loading dock, so there is no break in the “cold chain” between the post-harvest building, the loading dock, and the refrigerated trucks that will transport the roses to the airport.
“The better that flowers can be kept cold, the longer they will last throughout the process and for our customers,” Geoff said.
Multiflora is switching to a hydroponic growing system, so the plants are growing in raised beds rather than directly in the ground. This gives the farm more control over the nutrients the plants receive — and increases the yield by 50 percent.
Headed for home
Tom and Geoff also visited the Hossa farm, which provides us with spray roses (multiple small blooms per stem). But the focus of this stop was Hossa’s lilies.
Hossa has developed new varieties that produce more blooms per stem. And like Multiflora, Hossa has improved its processes, namely packing.
“They tightened the lilies into the boxes better so during transport they don’t shift,” Geoff said. “If the lilies shift in the boxes, it damages the buds and leaves bruising and creasing once the flowers open up.”
Their farm tours completed, Tom and Geoff are heading home. Tom will make one more stop, however, flying to Miami for another inspection of the Valentine’s Day shipments, ensuring the highest quality before the flowers are packed on our truck for delivery to our Grove City distribution center.
There, our employees will handcraft thousands of holiday arrangements using the roses, carnations and other Colombian-grown flowers that Geoff and Tom saw firsthand only days earlier.
We started Tom Royer and nephew Geoff Royer’s trip to Colombia, South America, in the city of Medellin. Day 2 found them some 335 miles southwest in Bogota, the nation’s capital.
Bogota sits in the center of Colombia, on a high-altitude plateau that provides year-round steady temperatures that help make it one of the world’s great flower-growing regions.
Tom and Geoff visited two more farms. The first was Elite, one of the largest growers in Bogota and our source mainly for roses and alstroemeria (lilies).
“Today was an inspection day,” Geoff said. “We examined some of our roses and discussed the cut point of the flowers.”
The cut point is, as the term suggests, the stage in the flower’s life cycle at which it is cut from the plant. There is an art to this, as we have to factor in the amount of time from farm, through customs in Miami, to our distribution center, to our stores and, finally, to our customers.
“Roses cut too open will blow open more quickly and not last as long,” Geoff said. “Roses cut too tight may not open at all. We are very critical of this part of the process and work with the growers to ensure that they have our cut points correct so we can provide the best possible product to our customers.”
While Elite has machines to help newer employees with grading the roses for head size and length, all of Connells Maple Lee’s roses are hand-graded by Elite’s experienced crews to ensure the best quality.
From Elite, Tom and Geoff visited the Geoflora farm, a carnation grower whose quality, Geoff said, is second to none. Besides inspecting the mini-carnations and carnations that Geoflora is growing for us for Valentine’s Day, they got a glimpse at some of the new products the farm is developing with its breeder.
“They have developed a carnation head size that is almost in a class of its own,” Geoff said.
You could be Cupid’s wingman for a day or two.
Connells Maple Lee is seeking independent drivers to help with Valentine’s Day deliveries on Feb. 13 and 14, with the potential to earn as much as $150 per day.
Candidates must have:
For more information, call or stop by your nearest Connells Maple Lee store and ask for the delivery room manager.
While they’re getting ready to play a big football game in Houston, Connells Maple Lee is gearing up for its version of the Super Bowl with our annual pre-Valentine’s Day trip to South America.
Tom Royer, our senior vice president and chief operating officer, has been making the trip for decades. In recent years, he has been joined by his nephew, Geoffrey Royer, who is a company area manager.
Their trek allows them to ensure that the roses and other Valentine’s Day flowers growing specifically for our customers are of the highest quality.
Day 1 found Tom and Geoff at the Liberty and Mira Monte farms in Medellin, Colombia, from which Connells Maple Lee mainly purchases daisies and cushion poms.
“The thing I took from today was how very technical it all is and the precision and detail needed to make it all work correctly,” Geoff said.
Conversation at both farms turned to propagation, or the process from seed to mother plants from which cuttings are taken. The cuttings beget plugs that are planted into vast beds and become the flowers we buy.
Planting for Mother’s Day
Geoff noted that while we’re focused on Valentine’s Day, the farms are planting for Mother’s Day.
“Planting any later than the next week or so could cause the crop to be too late for Mother’s Day,” Geoff said.
He noted the multiple variables that play roles in how flowers develop, from minerals such as phosphorus and potassium to sunlight and temperature.
Whatever their current products, the farms aren’t resting on their laurels. They work with breeders to create the varieties of flowers that Connells Maple Lee and other florists purchase.
“It’s not a simple process,” Geoff said. “Hundreds of thousands of seeds are gone through and test to see which ones produce plants and products that could be valued in the marketplace.
“They are then propagated and tested over time to see if they have issues with disease or how well they produce. If they have a winner, it takes time to then create enough cuttings to have a large enough production to make an impact.”