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‘Harmony Harvest’ winning entry in Connells Maple Lee name-the-arrangement contest

Kara Ferguson’s favorite time of year is the fall: crispness in the air, leaves changing color, drinking cider when it’s cold outside.

Ferguson’s fondness for fall made her a prime candidate to enter Connells Maple Lee Flower & Gifts’ contest to name a mounded pumpkin arrangement.

Her entry, Harmony Harvest, was selected as the winner among nearly 100 online submissions received Sept. 14-18. Her prize is one of the arrangements.

The all-around arrangement measures 12.5 inches high and 16 inches wide. It features a six-inch white ceramic pumpkin, country buffalo gingham bow, dusty miller, mini-green hydrangea, carnations, spray roses, charmelia, poms and limonium.

Click here if you’d like to order a Harmony Harvest arrangement.

10 Heart-Felt Uses for Flowers This Valentine’s Day

Rainbow Rose Loose Bunch (2171)

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 Connells Maple Lee 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.

In January, it’s a tip-top time to tip-toe through the tulips


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. Connells Maple Lee 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

For $8.99, you can pick up a 10-stem “grower’s bunch” that’s regularly priced at $14.99. Two bunches are $16.99.

Handful bouquets with free local delivery

The tulip promotion also includes free delivery on our hand-tied handful bouquets, available with 15 tulips ($25) or 25 tulips ($39.99) and accents of limonium.

$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, Connells Maple Lee’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 our stores in Bexley, Grove City or Powell 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”

Sizing up six new arrangements for fall

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Several sure signs of the season: cooler temperatures, candy corn on grocery store shelves and the arrival of our fall menu.

Emily Mallis, Connells Maple Lee’s marketing manager, shared her insight on six arrangements making their debuts.

2820/Foliage Terrarium:

A tilted pedestal container gives a unique, updated look to our everyday dish garden while retaining its vintage feel.

2838/Rectangle Succulent:

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 Connells Maple Lee store.

And the winning arrangement name is … Tranquil Blooms

Karen Reif said her close friend received an email from Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts about this year’s name-the-arrangement contest.

“She saw it [and said], ‘You’re the creative one not me, so here you go,’ ” said the Westerville retiree.

Her friend’s hunch paid off as Reif submitted the winning entry, Tranquil Blooms. Reif entered names most days of the online contest, which ran Aug. 1-15.

“It was whatever I was feeling each day when I looked at it,” she said.

The all-around arrangement comprises three roses, stock, hydrangea, mini hydrangea, a lily, cushion poms, button poms, bupleurum, caspia, and curly willow accents swirled in a nine-inch glass bowl.

Reif will receive a Tranquil Blooms arrangement as her prize. The arrangement will debut in September.

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 Connells Maple Lee buys, toasts its product: “Garden roses are to roses what champagne is to wine.”

BRED FOR PERFORMANCE

Decades ago, Connells Maple Lee 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 Connells Maple Lee 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 trade-off: 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 Connells Maple Lee 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.

 

Connells Maple Lee introduces fresh gathered bouquets

Do it yourself doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

A case in point: Connells Maple Lee’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, our chief operating officer.

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 our 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 Connells Maple Lee product, the fresh gathered bouquets can be sent to someone as a gift.

While fresh gathered bouquets currently are available only in Connells Maple Lee’s market area, Brill delivered this tidbit: soon customers will have the opportunity to ship them almost anywhere in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Guy’s Guide to Flower Buying

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There’s a gender gap when it comes to buying flowers: Women buy 65 percent of fresh flowers, according to the Society of American Florists, while men buy 35 percent.

To the extent that men might be intimidated or uncomfortable buying flowers, we’d like to make the experience a more enjoyable one for them.

To do this, we tapped the expertise of our own Cheryl Brill, who shared these insights based her more than 20 years of experience in the flower business.

Roses are red – and lots of other colors

Too often, men think only of roses for their significant others, and then only in red. Cheryl encourages male customers to be more adventurous, whether it’s with other colors of roses, other flower varieties, or other looks such as a textured garden appearance.

Don’t stop at Valentine’s Day

Maybe the tendency to focus on red roses has a lot to do with Valentine’s Day which, let’s face it, is ruled by red roses. But the year has only just begun when Valentine’s Day rolls around, so why not mix it up for the 364 days that don’t fall on Feb. 14?

What’s more, 63 percent of flower purchases are for the buyer, compared with 37 percent as gifts. And 86 percent of purchases are for non-calendar occasions, 50 percent of which fall into the “no special occasion” category. The bottom line is that people like to receive flowers any day of the year.

Bouquets don’t have to break the bank

Flower prices tend to rise around Valentine’s Day, in concert with a spike in demand for what is the floral industry’s equivalent of football’s Super Bowl. If that’s the only time of year that you purchase flowers, you can get a warped sense of how much they cost on a day-to-day basis.

Cheryl described how a $7.99 rose bunch made a positive impression on one male customer, who realized that he could afford to be a more frequent flower buyer.

Get the right vase

If she likes to arrange flowers, Cheryl said, then get her a vase that lends itself to arranging and one that fits the décor of the room where it will be used. Does she tend to put flowers on the kitchen counter or on the coffee table?

You don’t have to DIY

In this age of do-it-yourself, there’s a tendency to think that we must go it alone with everything. Rest assured, your trained florist is eager to help. It starts with the right container; she noted that it doesn’t have to be a plain, clear vase. Either bring one in, or your florist can help you select one.

Think about what you want to say

Before you visit or call your florist, Cheryl advised, think about the words you want to send along with the flowers. She said florists are a bit like bartenders: they’ve seen and heard everything, so don’t be embarrassed. Speak from the heart because the sentiment is just as important as the flowers that it goes with.

Valentine’s Day is an oasis amid the darkness of winter, Cheryl said, but it’s nice to see male customers the rest of the year, too.

Highlights from our fall catalog

Every year, we introduce a fall catalog that contains approximately 20 percent new products. We asked Geoff Royer, a member of our product development team, to describe how some of the new arrangements came about. Here’s what he told us:

3617
One of the tasks of the product development team was to come up with more arrangements that are specific to birthdays. This arrangement does just that with the birthday bear that’s attached to the vase.

This is the fourth in our lineup of Big Hugs vases. We also have redesigned the baby boy and baby girl versions of that style.

3618 and 3619
We realized in the spring that we could do better on the pricing of the mini callas than we had before so we opted to develop a few arrangements with them.

3631 and 3633
This collection of arrangements is a new style for us, each one in a nine-inch glass bowl that we’d never carried before. We used them in some new lifestyle shots we are using to enhance our brochure and websites.

3644 (photo)
This addition features several flowers that are new to us, namely the Memphis daisy pom, charmellia alstromeria, and Nobbio cherry carnation.

We had featured Memphis at previous holidays. We loved the color and the lateral lengths on the daisy but no one grew it year-round until now.

Charmellia is a new product in the floral world. It lasts incredibly long and, as it opens, it changes from dark pink to a lighter pink.

The colors and variegation of the Nobbio cherry petals are like nothing we’d ever seen. This carnation is from a farm called Geoflora, which is associated with South American carnation breeder S.B. Talee.

Talee developed the Nobbio series in response to a Japanese market that wanted something beyond the standard red, white and pink combination with a longer stem length. We can take the sizes the Japanese markets don’t want at a good price.