I’m a huge fan of using items from my garden, like crumbling statuary or weatherworn planters, in my interior decorating, especially during the holiday season when their rustic beauty provides a provocative contrast to all that glitz and glam. Here are a few garden staples you might want to bring inside, too, to make your holiday displays a bit fresher and more intriguing. 

Garden Statues Lend Intrigue to Displays

Since the Nell Hill’s look is all about mixing together the refined and the rustic, the precious and the everyday, weathered garden statues are one of our go-to tools when creating designs. I loved them woven into formal displays because they offer an element of surprise and balance. During the holiday season, I often use the neul post of my banister as a stage for an attention-getting display. This year, I placed a garden figurine on this prime spot, surrounding her in a swirl of pine garland. Since I’m anything but stuffy when it comes to decorating, I like to have a bit of fun with these regal statues. So I twisted a toga-like ribbon around my garden beauty and made a little bouquet out of an evergreen pick for her to hold. In the past, I’ve placed evergreen wreaths around statues’ heads and dangled ornaments from their hands.


Topiaries Offer a Fresh Take on the Holidays

I have had a lifelong love affair with topiaries because these intricately sculpted plants seem to defy nature. How can they survive all this pruning and shaping and still look so amazing? (The fact is, in my home, they do not survive, since I’m such a brown thumb. If I want my topiaries to stay green, I have to use fakes!)  When we envisioned the mantel display for my Holiday Open House, I wanted to create a botanical look that was as fresh as the garden. So we included several faux three-balled topiaries in the display to give it some height and splashes of green. The angel candle holders, with their weathered gray patina and exposed wire skirts, look like trellises to me, making them the perfect addition to our greenhouse look.

In contrast, the topiaries we used for the holiday display on the side table on my screened porch are a bit wild and unkempt. I think they are just the right pick for this almost-outside spot, poised against the backdrop of my garden. Notice how we grouped three similar yet dissimilar topiaries together in this display? For continuity, the topiaries mimic the same look. For visual interest, they are each unique.


Trellises Add Dramatic Height

When we decorate my courtyard for my Holiday Open House ever year, I like to make a big splash on the console table that nestles up against the wall of my screened porch. I don’t want anything too heavy in this in-between place because I don’t want the tabletop display to block the view from the screened porch. Yet, the display needs to be tall, full and gutsy or it will get lost in the vastness of the courtyard. This year’s display struck the perfect middle ground. We started with a darling garden statue to bring in some charm, then filled in with a little forest of pine topiaries. To infuse the display with drama, we added in a trio of trellises. Slight and slim, the garden trellises gave the display height without taking over. Small trellises like these are also a great addition to a mantel display because they are slim and tall.


Planters Exhibit Holiday Treasures

When I remake my home for each new season, I don’t have the time or desire to rework every single display. So I focus my efforts on a few key spots. This intriguing wall mounted garden planter is one of my favorite places to change out seasonally. This winter, it’s cradling a natural ball covered in faux frost and a delightful little bouquet of red winter berries and pine. Notice the blanket of moss? We like to ground our displays on a bit of real moss, which you can find at hobby stores, because it helps hide the ends of faux greens and gives a nice, finished look.

This interesting cast iron planter is the perfect container for a seasonal bouquet on the side table on my screened porch. I really like topsy-turvy grouping like this one, where a potpourri of natural elements appear to be haphazardly mixed together. If floral arranging isn’t your thing, take the easy way out, like I do, and just fill your garden planters with pinecones or green apples.


Natural Treasures Make Your Displays Unique

Sometimes all you need to do to celebrate the garden in your holiday décor is to add a few found treasures to your existing displays. I am captivated by these adorable Christmas tree ornaments, which suspend a beautiful pinecone inside a clear ball, rightly heralding this organic masterpiece as a thing of great beauty.

If you are in a hurry and don’t have much time to decorate for the holidays, bringing the garden inside will not only give you a fresh seasonal look, it will take just seconds. Grab a pair of garden pruners and head outside, snipping bits of plants and trees to tuck into your year-round displays. This little spray of evergreen, cut from a cedar tree outside my home, adds a hint of winter charm to the standing display on my dining room buffet.


Next Week … For children, there is no more magical time than the holiday season. Indulge your inner child, and relive a lot of great holiday memories, by including some vintage pieces in your holiday décor.

P.S. When you head up to Atchison to shop, you’re in for a treat! We’ve combined our Garrity’s store and our Nell Hill’s store, and it’s better than ever! I thrive on change, so when we had the opportunity to sell the beautiful old building that housed Garrity’s, I jumped at the chance. Right now, we’re moving all the great furniture, artwork and accents you love at Garrity’s down the street to Nell Hill’s. I’m thrilled, because I love to spend all the time I can in all my stores, which will be easier now that there are two.

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17 Responses to “Freshen Your Holiday Decor with Goodies from the Garden”

  1. Geri Says:


  2. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    Hi Mary Carol,
    The minute I saw your outdoor statues outside Idid the same things. So much fun. It adds a dramatic yet old comforting feel to the home. I love your home, your posts and all your ideas. Stunning. Love it!

  3. Franki Says:

    Wished I would have thought of that – our garden statues are at the lake…and we’re in the city….NEXT TIME!!! Everything looks grand! franki

  4. Mary Carol Says:

    Lisa, you said it perfectly! Tell me, how you are using your statues inside? I’d love to hear your ideas – you are so creative! Anyone else have some ideas or tips to share about how they have decorated with their garden treasures? I love to hear what others are doing – it inspires me!

  5. Judy C Davis Says:

    We live on a lake and I wanted to incorporate the lake feel into my decor this year. On my mantel I brought in a wood carved pelican on a pier, a turtle shell I found on the beach, some sea glass colored old bottles that look as though they washed up on the beach that I found at a flea market and tied them altogether with a magnolia, a pine and a star fish garland. I stuck in a few hydrangeas here and there. My husband said I would probably have to explain it to everyone, but so far everyone has realized its a Christmas at the Lake mantel.

  6. pat pennington Says:

    Heading outside to get my wall hanging planter as soon as I finish this e mail. Lovely

  7. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Yep ….. Garden statue is on my dinning room table …. Halo of silver stars …. Sitting amongst greenery and gobs of pine needles ……… Just came in from cutting forsythia branches for my Christmas tree ….. ( Stealing them from my neighbors yard actually ) . Getting ready for the tour of Vintage Homes in Leavenworth , KS Dec 9 th . Merry Christmas all yea crazy ladies !!!!

  8. Mary Carol Says:

    Oh my gosh, you guys! I can just picture the halo around the statue and the lake inspired mantel. They sound wonderful! I think that sometimes the neatest thing we can do is explain our decor to friends, when each piece we’ve displayed has a special meaning to us, maybe a treasure we found on a walk with a loved one or a unique artifact we discovered on vacation. Keep the ideas coming – love them!

  9. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Personally I think we crazies need a support group …. !!! Support group … With wine !!!!i. I i defiantly have a major screw loose !!! She says as she’s lugging in vines from my neighbors yard to stuff in my Christmas tree…..just love this season !!!! Now a few inches of snow please !!

  10. Mary Carol Says:

    Sign me up for that support group!

  11. Glendana Says:

    Just curious about whether or not you somehow secure your statuary to the newel post? I’m wanting to do something similar, but am concerned that it will be somehow knocked off by kitty or people (especially me, the clumsy one).

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Glendana! I can totally understand your concern about knocking over displays — I have two kitties and a big clumsy dog, not to mention my even clumsier husband! (I love you, Dan, if you are reading this!) That said, the display in the photo is not secured; it’s just sitting on a plate. If your display will be in a high traffic place, or if you have little ones around, I’d advise securing it with wire or using something light or unbreakable. Good luck!

  13. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    Hi Mary Carol and all Nell Hill friends.
    Well as soon as I got home from your open house I brought my beautiful lady statue inside into my formal living room. I placed her upon a small table in the corner and put a lovely little wreath around her neck. I love her so much inside now that I think she will always stay inside. Even Rob, my husband said “wow that looks good.” I wanted to put her on my stairs but I have a small foyer with a small staircase and the base of the staircase banister is small. She is too heavy and would not be able to sit right. I also went to my local nursery and bought a little stone cherub guy like yours and placed him in my Nell Hill Medium sized white lantern on my front porch with some greens. I love the indoor outdoor swapping. So much fun. Thank you Mary Carol for all your excellent ideas. If anyone is interested in seeing what I did you can see my blog. The post called Details has photos.
    Thanks again. Peace and Merry Christmas to all.

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Lisa, I think you hit the nail on the head: Find inspiring ideas, then adapt them to your home, your lifestyle, your tastes. That’s really my goal at Nell Hill’s — to help people celebrate their own style. You, my dear, are a master at this! xoxo right back at you!

  15. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Hi Lisa … So glad you came to tour Mary Carols house ….. We all had such a fun time and pumped up for the Christmas Season . I really enjoy your feedback and the comments about your home ideas . That’s what it’s all about …. Inspiration ! Merry Christmas to you !! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO. ALL AT. NELL. HILLS !!!!

  16. joan Says:

    Not only is Mary Carol a Master Decorator…she is truly an Angel in every sense of the word with an extremely generous heart!! Cheers to you my Friend!! May you be Blessed with continued Success!

  17. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    I love this blog! Wish we could all get together once a week for coffee at Mary Carol’s house. How does Friday night sound? Hee Hee. I wish!

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