Stacy Curtis, head floral designer at The Farmer’s Wife Antiques & Flowers in Greensboro, has spent the past few decades designing bouquets that are made to last. Follow Curtis’s six steps to building a beautiful backyard arrangement that will thrive for weeks.
Cut a bunch of sunshine-yellow forsythia blooms to brighten up your home, or give them to your sweetheart. photograph by MAYA23K/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS
Gather fresh evergreen varieties, bare branches, and blooms. In February, Curtis usually looks for little gem magnolia, sweet gum or river birch branches, and Lenten roses or forsythia blooms. Fruit tree blossoms like apple, pear, or peach can also work in a bouquet.
Pull off and throw away any foliage that will be below the waterline in your vase — leaves left underwater will rot.
Fill a vase with warm, nearly hot water, and give your stems a clean cut before placing them inside. Warm water helps the stem’s cells to open up and its flowers to blossom more quickly.
Add a clear soda like 7 Up to your vase. The acidity in the soda helps water travel through plants faster, keeping them hydrated longer, while the sugar makes them smell fresh.
When arranging, create structure with greenery first before adding branches and blooming flowers.
To ensure longevity, place the arrangement out of direct sunlight or heat, and make sure that the vase is always full of clean, warm water.
Shake Up a Cocktail for Your Sweetie
Chocolate cherry cream cocktail. photograph by Amy Brinkley
February is all about love, and there’s plenty to love about our chocolate cherry cream cocktail. Make a pair for you and that special someone. Recipe by: Amy Brinkley
1 part dark rum 1 part half-and-half ½ part Maraschino cherry juice Chocolate syrup Cocoa powder (optional) Maraschino cherry for garnish (optional)
Rim a martini glass with cocoa powder. Drizzle chocolate syrup in the glass. Pour rum, half-and-half, and Maraschino cherry juice into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry.
Around Valentine’s Day, Liv For Sweets Bakery will be filled with delicious red and pink goodies: chocolate-covered strawberries adorned with glitter, gold, and white and pink chocolate; red velvet and white chocolate cookie sandwiches (a k a sammies); and red velvet cupcakes infused with Bailey’s Irish Cream. Olivia Jessup opened Liv for Sweets, a play on her name, in downtown Pilot Mountain in 2019 at the age of 22. “I’m proud of myself,” Jessup says. “Looking back to the stuff that I started with, it was really basic. And now I’m finally getting out of my comfort zone to where I can be a little bit more creative and show who I am on my cakes and cupcakes and cookies.”
Jessup’s love of baking began as she followed her grandmother around the kitchen, picking up recipes, tips, and tricks while standing on stools to help mix batter. At 13, she began expanding her baking abilities through online resources, and now, her bakery is known for its custom creations that serve as edible works of art. — Katie Kane