Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Favorite Time of the Year

Yes it's true Valentine's Day is our favorite holiday.  Why?  Because for a florist this is the holiday that sets the tone for the entire year.  Valentine's Day is a true make it or break it holiday for a florist.  Like the average retailer waits for that Black Friday, us florists wait for the Valentine's Day.  

Valentine's Day is a day of love, adoration, and an excuse for us women to break our New Years resolutions and devour entire boxes of chocolate.  We celebrate with dinners, movies, cards, boxes of chocolate, and of course flowers.

Now Florists did not invent this holiday, and contrary to popular belief Hallmark did not either.  You can read the long boring history here but for the blogs sake we will just say: It started a long time ago in a land far far away. 

With so much riding on one day it's no wonder we start our planning back in October.  Yes October, before the Christmas lights are strung and the turkey is carved, we are planning Valentine's day.  We start by sorting through book after book and idea magazines galore.  

We always have our own designer styles, we like the teleflora options but it's just not the same.  We like to have 6 - 8 signature pieces each year.  Also a variety of price points and flowers to choose from are important.  So we find the perfect containers and start growing the vision.  We decide how many of each we will make up that special day, this is done so that the pieces are unique in style so not every desk has the same thing on it at the office.  This year we decided on a piece we fell in love with at the start, it says "Key to my heart".  But what is this, Lori waited to long to get her order in and the dreaded OUT OF STOCK popped up on the screen.... NOOOOOOOOOO is heard echoing from the walls of The Secret Garden.  But a quick call, and a little prayer, and we did get the pieces we had our hearts set on.  (pun intended).  So now the fun part.  Deciding what will go into each piece and making them come to life.

We take the containers, vases, and baskets and start to envision what we want each one to say.  Our basket design is normally our "cute" piece.  This can be sent to a mom, sister, friend, co-worker, or the likes.  This piece will not have roses but beautiful red carnations.  Next, our favorite container, "Key to my Heart".  This one will have a little bit of fun, in the form of red gerbera daisies, and a little romance, with pink spray roses.  We then go through each of our other selections like that until we have our designs.  Now we just need names... but that is where you come in.  Our faithful, and oh so talented facebook friends.  This year you are choosing the names for us... see the details here.

The supply order is done the first week of January.  We keep a list from year to year of what we need on hand.  Florist tape, Oasis foam, flower foods, and so on.  This is pretty easy and it goes quick, not much stress here.

Now the not so fun part.... placing the flower order!  This HAS to be done by the 2nd week in January.  This is the only way we can sleep at night, making sure we get the flowers we need, when we need them, so they will be fresh for all of you.  So we tally up the flowers in our signature pieces, the vases of roses we plan on selling, and the call for just a little of this and a little of that.... using some fine tuned mathematical skills... we submit our orders to our favorite suppliers.  

We also make up so many of our candy bar vases, snack canisters, and balloon wraps.  We double check counts and start the making about.. well NOW.  We also stock up on boxes of chocolate, cards, balloons, and a few gotta have its.  We have a cute angel line this year that features a red heart that has a message on it.

The stress is overwhelming.  Did we order enough, did we order to much (this would be bad, goal=no flowers left over).  What will the weather be like, will it snow?  Remember the year with the blizzard.  Do we have enough drivers, should we rent another van, do we have enough help with the phones.  When will we cut off orders, will we have to turn people away.  What are the hours for Sunday?  Who is bringing the coffee.... chocolate... and food to keep our motors running!

So in a few weeks the flowers will arrive, the arrangements will be made, the phones will ring, and our drivers will race to deliver everything on time.  This my friends is why we LOVE Valentine's Day.

Why are Roses so Expensive at Valentine's Day?

This is a question we will answer over and over again this Valentine's Day:
"Why are roses so expensive??"
The simple answer we give to most is, "supply and demand, we pay more at Valentine's Day so the customer has to pay more."  In truth the answer goes far beyond that.  It starts at the grower way back in November and December and it rolls forward to Valentine's Day and even a few weeks beyond.  

True long stem roses, like we sell at The Secret Garden, take 6 to 8 weeks to grow.  This means that production of Valentine's roses starts in late November and early December down in Equador. 
Because of this they trim the November and December crops early, creating a shortage that starts in those months and prices start to rise.

Now florists start to plan how many roses they want to have on hand and start sending orders into their suppliers.  The suppliers tell their suppliers, and those suppliers tell the growers.  The growers look at the crop growing and set a price based on the demand for the product.  Because roses are perishable and cannot be kept on hand for long periods of time it makes the supply harder to maintain.  

You also have to factor in the growing conditions for the roses, the days are shorter and the temperatures are cooler.  This puts more energy into caring for the roses and making sure they are ready for the final cut before the big day arrives.

Now we get into the fun world of transportation.  The large supply of roses has to be moved into the parts of the world that demand the roses.  This requires more trucks, more drivers, and of course more gas.  Then when they arrive at the wholesalers it requires more people to process the flowers, sort the roses for delivery to the florists, and transport them to the locations.  As a florist we need to have more people on staff to handle the demand as well.  More people to answer the phone, design the arrangements, and of course deliver them to you.

You add all of this together and it's the perfect storm for increased prices.

But do not fret.  You can send your love beautiful flowers on Valentine's Day without breaking the bank.  Ask your florist for a mixed bouquet, add just a few roses to it if you like.  Maybe look for designs that feature spray roses, then you can have a larger amount of "roses" without the higher cost.  You may also want to go with her favorite color or flower and have your florist create a beautiful bouquet that is one of a kind.  

If you do decide to go with roses, get the most for your money by providing the proper care after the roses arrive.  This will insure that you are enjoying the roses for days to come after the holiday. 

We hope that this little article will help explain those higher prices you are bound to pay this Valentine's Day.  Remember to order your roses early, we recommend at least a week in advance.  This will guarantee fresh roses delivered to the one you love on that special day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

What's in a Name?

Every Valentine's Day we come up with our own unique arrangements.  The Teleflora ones are nice but when we create our own we have our customers in mind and tailor them to fit our style.  We create a limited number of each arrangement and we sell out every year.  This year we have decided to let our facebook friends pick the names of our arrangements. 

Here is how it will work:

  • Every day we will post a new picture and description on Facebook and ask for names.  You have until the next picture is posted to get your name pick in. 
  • On Monday January 31st we will post the pictures along with the winning names. Each winning name will win a prize from our prize pool.  This could be a free arrangement, a plant, a gift, or a gift certificate. 
  • We will notify the winner of the prize they have won and when they can come and claim it.  

This years theme is "Love Songs".  Each arrangement will have a title of a love song for it's name.  We can't wait to see what you all come up with.  

Thank you in advance for all of your ideas, input, and help in making this Valentine's Day we will all remember.

Visit our Facebook page to submit your names.  Remember you have until we post the next arrangement to get your names in.  After that the contest for that one is closed. 

First Arrangement: 
This arrangement features 3 gerbera daisies, pink spray roses, and a beautiful mix of greens.  The heart container is ceramic and has a cute little pink heart and key.  It reads: "Key to my heart".  This piece was one of the first ones we picked for the holiday.  We were so lucky to get them in, after fighting back orders and out of stock they finally arrived.  We hope you like our first selection and good luck naming it!  

Second Arrangement ~
This arrangement features 2 white Asiatic lilies, red spray roses, red mini carnations, and white with pink alstromeria lilies.  The lush greens poke through and around the arrangement.  The red cube is perfect for a "keepsake".  You can bring it in to have it filled again or use it for storing items on a desk or by the bed.  Head on over to our facebook page to see what our readers have selected for this arrangement so far.

3rd Arrangement~

This arrangement features red carnations, mini red carnations, white with pink alstromeria, and purple statice.  This is the perfect gift for a friend, co-worker, mom, sister, aunt, and so on.  Or for the guy who is not to that "love" zone yet.  To submit your name hurry over to our Facebook page before time runs out!

 This is the final arrangement for our Valentine's day selection.  It features beautiful stargazer lilies, three red roses, white spray roses, and alstromeria lilies.  It comes in a cute silver design dish.  We call this our design piece because of it's class and style.  It will be a hit this holiday we are sure of that!

To see the winning names head on over to our facebook page and see what we have choosen.  To purchase any of these arrangements be sure to visit our website.  

Have a very Happy Valentine's Day from your friends at The Secret Garden.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Arranging a Half Dozen Roses in 10 Easy Steps

Here is a short step by step guide to arranging 1/2 dozen roses in a vase.  This is just in time for Valentine's Day.  We sell roses in paper and boxes for the man on the go.  This will help you arrange them like a pro when they get into your home. 
What you will need:
6 Long Stem Rose
1 Bunch of Babies Breath
6-8 Pieces of leather leaf
2-3 stems of salal leaf
Glass vase
Flower Food Packet
Florist Tape (optional)

1. Add your flower food to the water according to package directions.
2. You can grid the vase if you would like.  This will help keep the roses in place when you arrange them.

3. Remove any petals that may be bruised or spotted. This will make your roses more attractive in your arrangement.  
It also can liven up roses that are starting to loose that fresh picked look.  You can do this days after the arrangement is made to spruce it up a little.

4. Trim your leather leaf at the bottom and remove any leaves that may fall into the water.  The leather leaf should measure 6" to 8" from tip to rim of vase.

5.  Take your Salal stems and place them in the vase.  For best results separate them into 3 pieces.  Add them in like the numbers on the clock at 3,6, & 9.

For an 8" vase your rose should measure about 20" long.  Trim your rose at an angle so that the water can travel up the stem easily. 
Trim your best looking rose for the center of your vase.

6.  Add your first rose to the center of your vase. 
7.  Cut the other 5 roses about 2" - 3" shorter then your main flower.  Remember to cut these at an angle as well. 

8.  Add your remaining roses like you are filling in a clock.  The best positions are 2, 5, 7, 9. 12.  This will help create a nice shape for your arrangement. 
Facing your roses outward from the center of the vase will create a fuller look to your arrangement.  Every flower head has a natural "forward", use this to help you position your flowers.

9.  Insert your longest piece of babies breath into the center of your vase.  Trim it if needed so that the tallest blooms are about 1/2 was up the bloom of your tallest rose.
You can tuck the babies breath between the roses to add color and shape to your arrangement.  

10.  Take any remaining pieces of babies breath and fill in the places in your arrangement that need color and texture. 

Your arrangement is now complete.  Remember to change the water and trim your roses to prolong the life.  For more rose care tips check out our article here
If you like you can add a bow for a more finished look.  We hope that you have enjoyed our step by step and invite you to come back often for more great tips and tricks.

Get to know your customers day ~ January 2011

Today is "Get to Know Your Customers Day".  We feel that in the floral business that is every day for us.  When someone calls and asks for a birthday arrangement we have to get to know the sender and the receiver.  It could be something as simple as, "she loves pink", or something as detailed as, "we have been together for 50 years and she is the love of my life".  All of these details are an important part of picking the perfect gift for someone.  

So today we ask your help in getting to know you.  We want to know more about what our customers, or potential customers, like and dislike.  Honestly without you we would not have a reason to open our doors each morning.  Please take a couple of minutes to answer the following questions in the comment section below.  We will draw a name from those that respond and you will receive a gift certificate for $25.00!

1.  What do you consider most when choosing a florist?  This could be price, location, reputation, coupons, or anything of the sort.

2.  Have you seen or heard any advertisements for The Secret Garden in the last 30 days?  If so do you remember where?  Please indicate where.

3.  What one product, or service, would you like to see offered by us that would set us apart from the rest?

4.  If we offered an email, or phone reminder service for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays would you be interested?

5.  When, and for what occasion(s), did you order flowers for in the past year?

6.  What type of things would you like us to write about in blogs?  Examples: Decorating with flowers, more flower care information, how to order flowers, more pictures of our work, and so on.

Thank you in advance for filling out our short survey.  We look forward to helping you with your next flower purchase.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Recycle ~ You Can Too

Everyone has one, or two, or twenty.  They are shoved back in cabinets, stacked up in the basement, or just laying around always in the way.  What can you do with all of those glass vases?  You have clear ones, blue ones, green ones, red ones, and more laying around the house.  What can you do with the ones that are not so near and dear to your heart?  Simple!  You can bring them to us!

Now we are not asking for you to part with that vase you received on your wedding day, or the Waterford crystal one your grandma gave you.  We are looking for those odds and ends that you have collected along the way.  What do we want all of those vases for???  Simple ~ We Recycle!  We can use those to fill floral orders for customers, use as donations for charities and benefits, and so much more.  We will find a use for your unused and unwanted vases. 

So next time you are cleaning out those cabinets, garages, basements, or closets collect those vases and bring them in.  We will reward you with some fresh flowers to take home.  So save at least one vase to hold that fresh bouquet.

For more details stop in and see us at:
1215 E. Pershing Rd.
or give us a call:

We hope to see you, and your vases, soon! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Book Nook ~

The Book Nook ~

Introducing The Secret Garden Book Nook.  We have had this idea floating around in our minds for a while now and we are so happy to start the new year with it.  Here is how it works.

Stop in to The Secret Garden and pick up a good book to read.  You can bring one you would like to share with you if you would like. 

When you bring back the book (this is optional) you will receive a flower.  

If you have a book that you just want to share bring it in and you will receive a flower for your donation.

How great is that!  You can read a great book, enjoy a fresh flower, and visit with us when you stop in.

Tell your friends, share this news with your book club.  We can't wait to see you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Look Back on Our 2010 Weddings

Here is our YouTube video that includes some of our Wedding work from 2010.  This will hopefully be a great tool for brides who are looking for ideas for their upcoming wedding.  If you have any questions on anything you see here call us at 217-875-9038.  If you are planning a wedding check our our Wedding Checklist to make your planning go smoother.  

January Highlights

December was full of parties, family, presents, and occasions that made memories that will last a lifetime.  January is a time to resolve to make changes, look ahead on a promising New Year, and a time for celebrating.  We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and have a prosperous New Year.

We have many new plans and ideas for the year ahead.  Clearing out the old and making room for the new is a part of our January.  New stock is arriving and making it's way to our shelves.  Inventories are being done and Valentine's Day plans are already underway.  This month will be one of looking back at what made 2010 so great and what we can do to improve your experience when you shop with us in 2011.

To keep up to date on all of our new ideas be sure to follow this blog and our promotions page.  We will keep you up to date on all of the upcoming events through these blogs, our facebook page, and of course when you visit the shop.

A few things we have planned for the New Year are:

A book exchange ~ Continuing our Traveling Kindness Bouquet ~ A new twist to a Dozen Roses at Valentine's Day ~ More fun contests for the spring and summer ~ New products and services ~ and so much more!

We hope that you are looking forward to this new year, we sure are!


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