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The making of our fall catalog

Our 40-page fall catalog arrived in tens of thousands of mailboxes in October. (If you didn’t receive one, you can pick up a copy at any of our stores.)
With each of our catalogs, we change approximately 20 percent of the product lineup. Ultimately, it’s our customers who determine which arrangements stay in the lineup over the long haul.
Connells Maple Lee Fall 2014 catalog
How an arrangement makes it into the menu is an exhaustive process. It’s a long way from auditioning for a role to walking the red carpet, in other words.
Weak-selling arrangements are removed, or they are redesigned to give them a more current look. Sometimes an arrangement is discontinued because its container is no longer available.
Once we know how many items are being removed, we begin developing the new items. Inspiration comes from visiting other florists; from walking through gift trade shows in Atlanta and Dallas; from visiting container suppliers to spot trends in colors and styles.
Some of the ideas come from previous holiday selections. If a Mother’s Day item sells out early, for instance, we know there is strong customer demand for it, and it could get into the lineup.
Flower growers are part of the process, too, as we constantly seek out new suppliers. They must be able to provide premium product on a consistent basis. Currently, we are testing flowers from Ethiopia.
In late May, a small team pulls together new containers, flowers and ideas in order to develop new arrangement concepts.
Value engineered
Once we have the concepts, a team of designers turns them into actual arrangements, collaborating on some items or coming up with their own interpretations on others.
We buy flowers in all varieties and colors to keep our lineup fresh and interesting for our customers and designers alike. We also want flowers that we know will be available for at least a year.
With the arrangements made, the original group reconvenes in June/July to make final selections.
The arrangements are “value engineered” to give the best value to our customers. Perhaps better-priced flowers or containers can be used without upsetting the integrity of the designs.
Finally, the approved arrangements are professionally photographed for inclusion in the catalog.
And now it’s in the hands of our customers, who will vote with their pocketbooks and ultimately determine which arrangements stay in our lineup.

7 ways to say you’re sorry – and many other free quotations and expressions

In the doghouse? Our website will help you find the words to say you’re sorry.
In the doghouse? Our website will help you find the words to say you’re sorry.

The Greek mathematician Archimedes said that with a long-enough lever and a fulcrum, he could move the world.
That’s a pretty lofty goal. What if you are just searching for the right words to accompany the flowers that you’re sending to a loved one?
Connells Maple Lee’s website offers more than 200 quotations and expressions to help you say what needs to be said. They cover everything from anniversaries and birthdays to love and marriage, business and education to sympathy and thank you.
For instance, here are seven ways to say you’re sorry:

1. “Accept these flowers in place of the words I said.”
2. “I wouldn`t have made a mistake with my mouth shut.”
3. “I’m wrong – you’re right.”
4. “I muffed it! I`m so sorry!”
5. “I’ll never forgive myself … but I’m hoping you will. I’m sorry.”
6. “I may not be perfect, but my apology is close.”
7. “Will these keys let me out of the doghouse? I’m sorry.”

Feel free to pick one or cobble together your own creation from these suggestions.
We can’t promise that your words will move the world, but they will be a really nice complement to the flowers you send.

A thorny problem is solved by our annual May-June rose sale

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”
― Maud Hart Lovelace, author
Indeed, June is National Rose Month, which coincides conveniently with the fact that roses are abundant this time of year.
That abundance explains why Connells Maple Lee has its rose sale every June.
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As everyone knows, roses, especially red ones, are in great demand at Valentine’s Day. Hence, prices go up for florists and customers alike. Even then, however, the law of supply and demand comes into play.
There’s considerably less demand for yellow and orange and white roses, which become more affordable for us and, in turn, for our customers. This Valentine’s Day, we offered a “rainbow” mixed-rose (colors other than red) arrangement with babies breath, valued at $59.99, for $39.99.
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 of those flowers.
So we created our annual rose sale, which this year started May 17 and runs through June 22. We discount rose arrangements by $10 for one dozen and by $20 for two dozen, among other offers.
Yes, in June the world smells of roses.
There’s also the whiff of our annual rose sale in the air.
 
 
 

We’ll walk down the aisle with you on your wedding day

Talk about a night at the museum. Instead of historical figures coming to life, this is a story about a would-be florist providing flowers for a wedding at a museum.
She left the flowers overnight in the museum’s old refrigerator – and they were frozen solid the morning of the wedding.
Not only are we familiar with this story, we lived it. At least the part where the woman came to us in a panic, and we made all-new bouquets, corsages and boutonnières in time for the nuptials.
It certainly wasn’t the first time we repaired or made new bouquets on short notice for a bride who bought her flowers elsewhere and was disappointed. Nor is it the only way that we can help to make a wedding day a little more special.

Wedding packages

We’ve been fortunate to provide flowers to many big weddings, but the typical expenditure for wedding flowers is between $400 and $1,000. We also offer affordable wedding packages.
Typically, we deliver two hours before a wedding to make sure that everything is where it should be.

Nine-piece rose wedding package.
Nine-piece rose wedding package.

Wedding service

We also offer a wedding service – for a fee, in some cases – that arrives an hour prior to the exchange of vows and stays until the bride has walked through the door and down the aisle.
A trained wedding consultant helps everyone with their flowers – and brings along a toolbox to help with just about any other need that might arise:
• Such as the time that the flower girl gave an enthusiastic hug to the bride, who was left with a nice bright lipstick stain in the middle of the gown. No problem. Our consultant pulled out her stain stick and removed the blemish.
• Or the time that the bride’s gown zipper ripped just before the wedding. Our consultant reached for her needle and thread.
• And the icing on the cake with all of this? It was the time that our consultant helped to ice the wedding cake moments before the reception.

A selfish reason for giving flowers or plants on Secretary’s Day: boost productivity

Flowers aren’t just a nice thing to do for your administrative assistant on Secretary’s Day, also known as Administrative Professionals Day.
Research conducted at Texas A&M University found that flowers can help boost workplace productivity.

“Our research shows that a change as simple as adding flowers and plants can be important in the most meaningful way to businesses in the modern economy,” said Roger Ulrich, lead researcher on the project. The increased productivity – in the form of innovation and creative problem-solving – “could mean the difference between mild and great business success.”

The Society of American Florists worked with the researchers, lending expertise in flowers and plants.
In an eight-month study, both women and men demonstrated more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants. Men generated more ideas, while women generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems.
So bosses can give their administrative assistants flowers or plants out of respect and self-interest.
 

Flowers help stem the morning blahs: Harvard study

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Maybe it’s the long winter or the still-cold mornings, or just too much work and not enough sleep. There are any number of reasons why it can be tough to get at ’em in the morning.
When it comes to a pick-me-up, caffeine isn’t for all tastes. But everyone can start their days with flowers — and with good reason.
People are happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the morning, according to a behavioral study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods — happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example — manifesting much later in the day,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Etcoff. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”

The final study results demonstrated that flowers affect people emotionally at home, causing them to feel less anxious and more compassionate. They even reported a boost of energy that lasted all day.
“What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others — it’s what is called mood contagion,” Etcoff said. “And, the kitchen is the place where families tend to gather in the morning — imagine how big a difference a better morning mood can make.”
To learn more about this study and ways to incorporate flowers into your kitchen, click here.
 

Use hairspray to preserve your holiday wreath

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A natural Christmas tree eventually loses its needles, but giving it daily drinks of water will dramatically slow the process.
Unfortunately, you can’t do the same with a natural Christmas wreath.
But here’s the next-best thing: seal in the wreath’s moisture using hairspray, which acts like glue and holds the needles on.
To avoid any messes, do the spraying before you hang the wreath on a door, window or wall.
The result will be a wreath that looks shiny, green and full throughout the holiday season.

In search of the best rose

“Where will I wander and wonder?
Nobody knows
But wherever I`m going I`ll go
In search of a Rose”
–From the song “In Search of a Rose” by The Waterboys
 

Tom Royer regularly visits South American farms to check on the flowers  that are grown specifically for Connells Maple Lee.
Tom Royer regularly visits South American farms to check on the flowers
that are grown specifically for Connells Maple Lee.

 
Just after Labor Day, Tom Royer is going in search of a certain type of rose.
“We don’t want a rose,” said Tom, Connells Maple Lee’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We want a rose. We want the best rose and that’s what we need to do to be competitive in our business, is find the best of the best.
“We pride ourselves in doing that. Our flowers last longer, they’re bigger. We constantly have to be looking at all the things that are available to us to make what we do in the flower business better than what anybody else does.”
Tom, who visits flower farms in South America multiple times each year, will be returning to Quito, Ecuador, to meet with three or four rose growers (and a lily grower).
In some ways, this is nothing new. Tom is always in pursuit of better-looking, longer-lasting flowers.
“I’m constantly looking at farms,” Tom said. “It’s just now that the focus has been more on Ecuadoran roses.”
Specifically, he is looking for roses that have bigger head sizes, consistently. It costs more to ship fresh-cut roses from Quito than from Bogota, Colombia, the single-biggest source of Connells Maple Lee roses.
“So all things being equal, why would you buy from Quito?” Tom said.

“Well, Ecuadoran roses have always had a little bigger head size, and we’re focusing more and more on that.”

While its farms are capable of growing roses comparable to what is found in Quito, Bogota experiences more rain and clouds that can be detrimental to head size.
One of the growers that Connells Maple Lee buys from in Colombia also operates farms in Quito.
“And so we’re getting some of their Ecuadoran farm’s (roses)” and comparing with the ones from Bogota. “And the thing you see is the head size is bigger.”
Tom’s trip will help him determine which one or two farms in Quito he will work with.
“But we’re experimenting with them because you can’t just get a shipment and say, oh, OK, great, this is wonderful or it’s terrible. One shipment doesn’t tell the story. You have to do it over a number of months.”
And even then it’s a never-ending process.
“But wherever I`m going I`ll go
In search of a Rose”
Wherever he’s going, Tom is in search of a rose, too. The best rose he can find.