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Postcard from South America: Day 3

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.


Postcard from South America: Day 2

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.


Drivers wanted: earn up up to $150 per day making Valentine’s Day deliveries

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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:

  • Your own appropriate vehicle, such as a van, station wagon or hatchback
  • A valid driver license
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Familiarity with the local area

For more information, call or stop by your nearest Connells Maple Lee store and ask for the delivery room manager.


Postcard from South America: Medellin flower farms

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.”

 


Introducing the Connells Maple Lee Kids Club schedule for the rest of 2017

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One Connells Maple Lee Kids Club event is in the books, but four more are to come this year.

Kids club events are free to children ages 5 to 12. We typically have sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Here’s the rest of the 2017 schedule with each event’s theme:

March 25: Easter (see photo)

June 17: Stems Hunger food drive (nonperishable food donation requested)

Sept. 9: Grandparents Day

Nov. 11: Bouquets for Books (new children’s book donation requested)

We also encourage you to register for the kids club as you’ll receive a membership card, our quarterly Buds newsletter, and opportunities to enter contests and win prizes.

We look forward to seeing you at our next event!


Connells Maple Lee Kids Club puts heart into new year with free Valentine’s Day event Jan. 21

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We’re kicking off the 2017 Connells Maple Lee Kids Club schedule with a free event on Jan. 21 in all stores.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to make a special “Be Mine, Valentine!” arrangement, featuring a teacup with a heart on it and a red wire stick-in heart. Participants also will receive a free 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.

 


Connells Maple Lee presents Red Cross with holiday cards, coloring pages for active military and veterans

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Connells Maple Lee has presented approximately 100 holiday cards and coloring pages for active military and veterans to the American Red Cross as part of the latter’s “Holidays for Heroes” program.

From Nov. 11-23, Connells Maple Lee invited the public to donate the items, which are destined for military installations, VFWs, American Legions, VA hospitals and retirement homes in 45 counties in the Red Cross’ Ohio Buckeye Region.

The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Photo: From left, Andrew Royer, regional manager, Connells Maple Lee, and Craig Nagy, regional director, service to the armed forces and international services programs, Ohio Buckeye Region of the American Red Cross.


Connells Maple Lee’s annual book drive collects 70 new children’s titles for Bexley Public Library and Delaware County District Library

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Connells Maple Lee’s annual book drive collected 70 new children’s titles for Bexley Public Library and Delaware County District Library.

Bouquets for Books ran Oct. 22-Nov. 5.

Anyone who donated a new children’s book was eligible to receive a free bouquet.

The book drive will return Oct. 28-Nov. 11, 2017.

Photo: From left, Sharon Harding, sales associate at Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts in Powell, and Connie Pottle, youth services manager, Delaware County District Library.


Connells Maple Lee collecting cards and coloring pages Nov. 11-23 for Red Cross’ ‘Holidays for Heroes’

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Connells Maple Lee will collect cards and coloring pages for active military and veterans in each of our stores Nov. 11-23 as part of the American Red Cross’ “Holidays for Heroes” program (formerly Holiday Mail for Heroes).

Collected cards and coloring pages will be handed over to the Red Cross, whose volunteers will organize them for delivery.

Cards may be dropped off at any one of our stores during normal business hours. Coloring pages are available at the stores or can be downloaded here:

Christmas Tree

Santa

Ornament

Reindeer

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The Red Cross offers these guidelines for preparing cards:

• Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member” as cards addressed to specific individuals cannot be delivered through this program.
• Include messages of support and thanks.
• Sign your name to them.
• Don’t include letters or other personal information (photos, addresses).
• Refrain from choosing cards with glitter.

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.


Connells Maple Lee honors veterans with free red, white and blue bouquets on Nov. 11

croppedVeterans Day bouquet

Any U.S. veteran who stops by a Connells Maple Lee store on Nov. 11 will receive a free red, white and blue bouquet.

“No one is more deserving of a national day of honor than the men and women who have served and sacrificed to protect our freedom,” said Greg Royer, president and CEO of the family-owned florist.

“It’s our privilege to offer this gesture of thanks on Veterans Day.”

The offer is available in person at all Connells Maple Lee stores: 3014 E. Broad St., Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.