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SNAPSHOT FROM OUR JUNE 16 CONNELLS KIDS CLUB EVENT; SEE YOU AGAIN ON AUG. 25

A big thanks to everyone who joined us for the June 16 Connells Maple Lee Kids Club event.

Not only was it a fun time, but it also helped us kick off our annual food drive, Connells Maple Lee Stems Hunger, which runs through June 30.

We wish you a happy, safe summer and look forward to getting the gang back together for two more events this year: Aug. 25, when the theme will be fall, and Nov. 10, when we focus on our Bouquets for Books children’s book drive and our Holidays for Heroes card and coloring page drive for active and retired military members.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t officially joined the kids club, or if you have a friend or family member who might be interested, please click here for complete details.

Connells Maple Lee’s children’s book drive returns Oct. 28-Nov. 11 to benefit public libraries

Connells Maple Lee’s annual children’s book drive returns Oct. 28-Nov. 11 to benefit Bexley Public Library and Delaware County District Library.

For each new book, donors will receive a free bouquet, up to three per family per visit. Used books will not be accepted.

For more information, including library wish lists, visit cmlflowers.com/bouquetsforbooks.

Planting the seeds for a successful school year

Air plants are great for cleaning air.

New shirts, new shoes. Backpacks and notebooks. No doubt, one or more of those items was on your shopping list if you’re a parent preparing a child for the first day of school.

Don’t forget a little something for your child’s teacher and classroom.

A plant is a great option, not only for aesthetic reasons but certain ones help to improve indoor air quality. What’s more, the presence of plants has been shown to boost productivity and reduce stress, which can enhance a learning environment.

With the help of Connells Maple Lee’s Cheryl Brill and other resources, we compiled a list of plants that will help sow the seeds for a great new school year.

Cheryl’s list started with Chinese evergreens (aka aglaonemas), peace lilies, philodendrons and spider plants, each of which is great for cleaning the air, she said. What’s more, they’re easy to take care of and don’t require a lot of bright light.

As their name suggests, spider plants have tendrils or plantlets that grow out from the mother plant.

“That would be kind of fun for a grade-school situation,” Cheryl said.

For more on plants and air quality, click here.

Classroom conversation

Meanwhile, air plants aren’t that effective at cleaning the air, Cheryl said, but they are intriguing because they grow without soil. Also known as tillandsia, air plants are a type of bromeliad and relative of the pineapple.

Air plant leaves have scales, called trichomes, that absorb water and nutrients from the air.

“We just dunk them in a bucket of water every week or so,” Cheryl said, suggesting how easy it is to care for air plants.

The air plant’s unique characteristics alone make for a great classroom conversation. What’s more, they’re available at Connells Maple Lee in quirky “thinkers” containers.

Thinkers is what we want students to be, after all. Another plant option that can captivate a classroom is a terrarium, which only needs to be watered weekly. Cheryl described them as “neat to look at” and as providing “a little tranquil spot.”

Heaven knows, a bustling school can use a tranquil spot or two.

Plants and pets: know the facts to keep dogs and cats healthy

No plant says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. But nary a holiday season goes by without poinsettias being negatively associated with pet health.

Yet the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says poinsettias “may be the most misrepresented plant when it comes to toxicity. Since 1919 poinsettias have been called lethal if ingested by pets. However, many animal studies have shown that it is just not true.”

Relatively few plant and flower species are dangerous to pets, and the effects can range widely.

As the ASPCA notes, poinsettias and other holiday plants are not good for pets to ingest, potentially irritating the mouth and stomach and sometimes causing vomiting, but generally are “over-rated in toxicity.”

The same can’t be said about lilies and cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure, according to CBS News.

“A cat that’s eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily.”

This is the case for any true lily — belonging to the plant genus Lilium — including Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily and certain species of daylily.

In contrast, the calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley and Peruvian lily (alstroemeria) are not true lilies and won’t cause kidney failure in cats although they have other toxic principles, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.

If you love plants and pets, then it’s a good idea to consider which ones are the best fit for your home. Here are several resources:

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center offers an exhaustive, sortable list of plants that are toxic or non-toxic to dogs and cats. The list focuses on plants “that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the ASPCA, which cautions that the list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

If you think your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, the ASPCA suggests contacting your veterinarian or its 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

The Humane Society offers an informative — and highly alliterative — list of “plants potentially poisonous to pets.”

The Pet Poison Helpline offers its Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets.

Of course, as the Pet Poison Helpline notes:

“While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet.”

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.

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.

Join us at April 24 ‘Wedding Experience’ show

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Connells Maple Lee is tying the knot with Columbus Bride & Groom’s “Wedding Experience” show on Sunday, April 24.

It will be our first involvement with the show, which will take place from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbus Airport, 2886 Airport Drive.

We’d like for you to be our guest. Free tickets are available at our Grove City store, 2033 Stringtown Road, while supplies last. Otherwise, tickets are $12 each for pre-registration or $20 each at the door.

You’ll find our booth right inside the door of the New Albany ballroom, which will feature a summer theme. We’ll also have two tablescapes — one formal, one casual — in the center of the room to offer ideas for decorating guest tables.

More than 80 vendors will be on hand for the Wedding Experience, which will feature a “mini mock” wedding reception, complete with food and drink samples, including wedding cake.

A separate room will accommodate The Savvy Bride Resale Market, where former brides sell new or gently used items to brides-to-be.

Brides who pre-register (or avail themselves of our free tickets) will be eligible for a scavenger hunt and grand-prize drawing at the end of the show.

For more information about the show, click here.

Order early delivery for Valentine’s Day, and you’ll have March covered for free

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Mother Nature has no qualms with interrupting our plans.

Fingers crossed, weather won’t mess with Valentine’s Day. But it’s best to anticipate the worst and order early.

Besides, this year Feb. 14 falls on a Sunday, so you’ll have to order early if you want to send flowers to your loved one at his or her place of work.

And let’s face it: When the recipient’s colleagues gush over the flowers you sent, it makes you look pretty good, too.

If you need more incentive, we have it by the dozen: Orders delivered Feb. 8-12 will be accompanied by a coupon redeemable for one-dozen rose bouquet. The coupon is valid any time in March.

Kids club announces 2016 schedule of free events

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Connells Maple Lee Kids Club is returning with five free events in 2016, giving children ages 5 through 12 the opportunity to make floral projects and play an important role in our biggest charitable events.

Kids club events always take place on Saturdays in all of our stores, with time slots available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

This year’s schedule and themes:

Jan. 23: Valentine’s Day

March 12: Easter

June 18: Connells Maple Lee Stems Hunger food drive

Aug. 20: Back to school

Oct. 29: Bouquets for Books children’s book drive/Halloween

The best way to stay connected with kids club activities is to become a registered member. It’s free and takes only a few minutes to complete the process.

You can start by clicking here.

We look forward to another fun, fulfilling year of activities!

Kids club’s 2016 schedule begins Jan. 23 with free Valentine’s Day event

Kids Club January 2017

We’re asking participants to put their hearts into our free Connells Maple Lee Kids Club event on Jan. 23.

Children ages 5 to 12 will have an opportunity to create a Valentine’s Day arrangement. Participants also will receive a free balloon.

Registration is required by calling your nearest Connells Maple Lee store: 2408 E. Main St., Bexley, 614-237-8653; 2033 Stringtown Road, Grove City, 614-539-4000; and 8573 Owenfield Drive, Powell, 740-548-4082.

This is the first of five kids clubs events planned in 2016.