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Flower and gift ideas for all of your valentines

#2167 Masterpiece

Ravishing red roses rightfully rule Valentine’s Day, but they’re among many great options for conveying love and respect to the important people in your life, from family members to friends to valued community members.

Better still, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts offers arrangements and gifts at a wide range of price points to accommodate any budget. Here are some of our favorites:

For Partner

#2167 Masterpiece

This upgrade on a traditional dozen red roses features a handblown vase, stargazer lilies and curly willow to give a lavish loving look.

For Child

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#2106 Sweet Hugs Bud Vase

Perfect for children of any age, it includes two roses in a red vase with a heart ribbon accompanied by a soft, huggable teddy bear and Hershey’s Kisses.

For Parent

#2114

#2114 Heart of Hearts

A lovely blend of pink and red flowers to show your love – straight from the heart.

#1959

#1959 Always figurine

Add a special gift for mom with this heart-tugging figurine, which comes boxed with a note saying, “I feel the strength of your love.”

For Grandparent

#2136

#2136 Love’s Garden

For the grandparent with a green thumb, this will continue to sprout love well after Valentine’s Day.

#2101

#2101 One True Love

For the grandparent with a small space, a beautiful vase arrangement featuring white hydrangea, red rose and pink alstroemeria. It’s simple, delicate, beautiful and perfect for a bedside or small coffee table.

For Sibling

#2112

#2112 Sent with Love

A vibrant mix of Dutch tulips perfect for a sister or brother.

#2185

#2185 Pound of Chocolates

Make your gesture extra sweet with a gourmet mix that includes caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels and buckeyes from Ohio’s Waggoner chocolates. 

For Friend

#2162

#2162 Dozen Yellow Roses

Yellow roses are a traditional sign of friendship, joy and caring. The pandemic has made it more difficult to enjoy time with friends; here’s a way to let them know how much you value them.

#9235

#9235 Your Journey Heart Bracelet

From Demdaco, this beaded bracelet features a heart pendant and comes with a message gift box that reminds us to “nurture loving moments with our favorite people.”

For Neighbor

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#544 Chocolate Lover

Good neighbors deserve a basket teeming with a delicious gift selection of chocolate treats.

For Teacher

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#2137 Love Grows

What better way to recognize the hard work of teachers, whether in the in-person or virtual classroom, with this easy-care succulent plant?

Healthcare Worker

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#2111 Love’s Garden

A bright and cheerful mix of garden flowers are the perfect prescription for thanking health care workers for their selfless devotion to public wellness.

For Employee

#2182

#2182 Milk Chocolate Pretzel Bag

Reward an employee’s hard work and dedication with this 6.5-ounce bag from Asher’s Chocolates.

Of course, you will find dozens of items from which to choose at royers.com and in our stores.

It’s easy to let your love flow to all of your valentines!

 

A dozen facts about roses to share with your Valentine’s Day recipient

 

If you’re giving flowers this Valentine’s Day, odds are they will be roses.

That generous gesture alone is likely to impress the recipient. But maybe you really want to wow that special someone with your knowledge of the national flower (see below).

For you, we offer a dozen facts about roses that will help you demonstrate an even deeper commitment to your gift-giving.

1. Red rules
Because they symbolize love and romance, red roses are the runaway most popular color at Valentine’s Day, accounting for 69 percent of sales. In 1800, roses from China were bred with European roses to create the first true red rose. Rounding out the top 5 colors are white (38 percent), pink (37 percent), mixed (31 percent), and yellow (29 percent).

2. Color meaning
Other rose colors convey different meanings, giving you other options depending on your relationship with the recipient. For instance, you can send a message of friendship and cheer with yellow roses. Pink is a sign of appreciation, white of reverence.

3. Sweet smell
Rose oil is a popular floral scent and used in many women’s perfumes. It takes 2,000 roses to produce just one gram of oil.

4. 13,000 varieties
The cultivation of roses began around 500 B.C. Today, there are some 100 rose species and 13,000 rose varieties. And you thought there were a lot of mustard options at the grocery store!

5. Enduring
Roses are among the oldest flowers: rose fossils found in Colorado in the late 19th
century were 35 million years old. The oldest living rose is 1,000 years old and grows on a wall at Hildeshein Cathedral in Germany.

6. George Washington, no lie
The Father of His Country chopped down a cherry tree, according to folklore, but Washington planted roses at his Virginia home, Mount Vernon, and hybridized a variety that he named the “Mary Washington” after his mother.

7. 200 million roses
Each Valentine’s Day, Americans give approximately 200 million roses. The bulk of those roses come from South America. In the three weeks leading up to Feb. 14, the Washington Post reported in 2019, 30 cargo jets travel from Colombia to Miami each day.

8. From South America with love
Connells Maple Lee works directly with rose farms in South America to ensure that our flowers are of the highest quality. We visit those farms each year in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day to check on the crop and then follow the shipment through U.S. customs in Miami and onto a refrigerated truck destined for central Pennsylvania.

9. White House Rose Garden
Established in 1913 by the wife of Woodrow Wilson, the Rose Garden borders the Oval Office and the West Wing. It has been redesigned several times, as recently as 2020.

10. National flower
In 1986, standing in the Rose Garden, President Ronald Reagan declared the rose the national flower of the United States.

11. Stories and songs
Authors and songwriters have long been inspired by roses. To wit, in “Romeo and Juliet,” William Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” By one count, more than 4,000 songs are dedicated to roses.

12. Make them last
With the right care, your recipient’s roses can last for a week or longer. It is important to water the flowers and to keep them away from heat sources. If the water gets dirty, remove the flowers, re-cut the stems and put them back in the vase with fresh water.

Between gifting roses and learning more about them here, clearly you have put all of your heart into Valentine’s Day.

But if we can help with anything else, please let us know.

Sources: bhg.com, hgtv.com

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.”

OUR ANNUAL ROSE SALE RETURNS MAY 16-JUNE 16

Roses are most closely associated with Valentine’s Day, but they are available year-round.

They’re a particularly good value in June thanks to the natural rose growing cycle, as evidenced by Connells Maple Lee’s annual rose sale, which coincides with National Rose Month in June.

This year’s sale runs May 16-June 16 with specials including:

  • Three roses added to any arrangement for $4;
  • One-dozen loose red, yellow, pink or rainbow roses for $15.99;
  • Two-dozen premium rose arrangement for $69.99 (normally $89.99).

A rose farm typically harvests its crop every six to eight weeks: conveniently, after the Valentine’s Day harvest comes the one for Mother’s Day. But while there’s another big crop of roses in late spring, there is not a corresponding holiday to absorb all those flowers.

Our rose sale taps into that abundant availability, which makes roses less expensive for us and, by extension, for you, our customers.

Connells Maple Lee’s primary rose variety is called Freedom, which makes a big impression with its deep color, size (flowers range from 5 to 7 centimeters across), and long vase life.

No matter the variety, roses have similar characteristics. However, care requirements can differ whether the roses arrive in a vase, loose or in a box, as these care tips explain.

Of course, with our annual rose sale, it’s a great time to give roses as a gift to someone else or to treat yourself.

VALENTINE’S DAY: FROM FIELD TO FRONT DOOR

Whether you’re a planner or procrastinator, online or in-store shopper, you can expect the same high-quality product and customer service from Connells Maple Lee.

We really shine at Valentine’s Day. It’s our busiest time, and we enjoy the challenge of rising to the occasion. If a customer buys flowers once per year, it’s probably for Feb. 14. And with matters of the heart, the pressure really ramps up to deliver in a special way, for lovers and florists alike.

We handle a similar volume of orders during the Christmas season, but that’s over a month or longer. By comparison, the Valentine’s Day “season” squeezes a similar volume into several days.

FROM SOUTH AMERICA, WITH LOVE

But behind the scenes, Valentine’s Day is months in the making, and it takes us thousands of miles from our stores.

You see, we don’t just place a phone call and wait for roses to come to us. We go directly to the flower farms in South America, where we can see firsthand the crop that’s being grown just for our customers. This way we can make sure everything is to our satisfaction. If there are problems, then we have more time to correct them.

Once the Valentine’s Day crop is harvested, it is flown to Miami, where it is inspected by U.S. customs officials. From there, we move the flowers to a refrigerated tractor-trailer for their journey to our Grove City distribution center.

The flowers are either picked up by drivers from our stores or headed to another part of the building and our central design department.

CENTRAL DESIGN: THE HEART OF THE OPERATION

The demand is so great at Valentine’s Day that our stores simply can’t accommodate all the work. They get a big assist from central design, where a team of workers packs roses in boxes or turns them and other flowers into beautiful arrangements.

Whether you give or receive Valentine’s Day roses, or both, we want to make sure you get the most out of them. In fact, with the right amount of care, you should be able to keep your roses looking just rosy for a week.

Click here for specific care instructions, which differ depending on whether your roses arrived in a vase or loose in a box. Either way, it’s best to keep them cool and, of course, sufficiently watered.

From the farm to your front door, we love making Valentine’s Day special for our customers.

Thanks for letting us show you how.

Our flowers are rooted in many places around the world

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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
Iris/tulips: Holland
Dendrobium: Thailand
Gerbera daisies: Canada
Hypericum: Ethiopia
Carnations/alstromeria: Bogota, Colombia
Gypsophilia: Quito, Ecuador
Sunflowers: United States
Sweetheart roses: Holland

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: 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.”

 

‘Freedom’ on the march when it comes to roses

freedom-1

We’ve all heard the line from Shakespeare: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Far be it for us to quibble with “The Bard,” but names do matter when it comes to distinguishing among rose breeds. This certainly is the case with our standard red rose, which is anything but standard.

Known as the “Freedom” variety, it has been our primary rose since its 2004 introduction by the rose-breeding experts at Rosen-Tantau in Germany. The pure-red Freedom rose, which is grown in South America and Mexico, is known for being a productive plant that is highly resistant to pests and diseases.

What’s more for consumers, the Freedom rose makes a big impression with its deep color, size (flowers range from 5 to 7 centimeters across), and long vase life.

ROSE PETALS

Some tidbits about roses courtesy of aboutflowers.com:

  • Shakespeare referred to roses more than 50 times in his writings.
  • Napoleon’s wife Josephine grew more than 250 rose varieties.
  • Archeologists discovered fossilized remains of wild roses that were more than 40 million years old.
  • The world’s oldest living rose is 1,000 years old and flourishing on the wall of Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany.
  • The rose hips (the part left on the plant after a rose has finished blooming) contains more Vitamin C than almost any other fruit or vegetable.

Valentine’s Day survival guide: 5 tips

DSC_0486
A local florist will give you the best value for your money, according to NBC News.

 

Love is all around at Valentine’s Day, but you never want to take matters of the heart for granted.

Our survival guide is here to help, before, during and after the holiday. And it’ll help you whether you’re giving or receiving flowers — or both.

SHOP EARLY

One of the keys to a successful Valentine’s Day is not forgetting that it is Valentine’s Day. Order your flowers early and even have them delivered early. This way, you’ll be sure to stay ahead of any snowstorms, and the recipient will just have longer to enjoy the flowers.

What’s more, Connells Maple Lee offers a special incentive: Have your Valentine’s Day order delivered Feb. 12 or earlier, and the delivery will include a coupon for a free dozen-rose bunch redeemable in March.

SHOP LOCALLY

The big national retailers will spend a lot of time and money bombarding you with their offers, but you’ll get the most bang for your bouquet when you purchase it from a local florist. Don’t take our word for it, though. Just watch this story from NBC News.

DON’T LET THE ‘DOGS’ OUT

Be wary of “deceptive order gatherers,” or DOGs, that often make it look like they are local florists but aren’t. They might even be located out of state. And if they sink their teeth into your order, they’ll take an unnecessary bite out of your wallet. Click here for details on why you will want to avoid them.

PICK YOUR PRICE POINTS

It’s the thought that counts, so you don’t have to spend a lot to show that you care about someone. From a single rose or a stuffed bear to a mixed bunch or mixed-color roses, you can find many options for below $50.

HANDLE WITH CARE

Given proper amounts of water and cool-enough temperatures, high-quality roses from a local florist can last a week or longer. Just follow these easy steps.

With these tips, you’re not just going to survive Valentine’s Day, but you’re going to thrive.

And what’s not to love about that?