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Dan is on a healthy eating crusade, which means now I have to watch everything I put in my mouth, too. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’m against eating healthy. Far from it. It’s just that in the mad rush of the day, I usually grab what I can on the go.

But now that Dan’s filling our home with fresh, organic produce, I’m enjoying the benefits. My skirts are fitting looser … and I have access to the most amazing decorating tools created by Mother Nature herself!  When most people see a bundle of carrots, a stack of tomatoes and a head of lettuce, they probably don’t have an overwhelming compulsion to arrange them into a centerpiece, like I do. But when you really look at this harvest of colors, textures and shapes, they are perfect pieces of art just screaming to be showcased in your decor.

Got veggies? If so, here’s how to turn them into fun, inventive displays.

A Beautiful, Edible Centerpiece

I’ve decorated with fresh flowers for year. And I’ve been a long-time fan of using fresh and faux fruit in my décor. But I’m a newcomer to the world of decorating with vegetables.

Whether you want to create an interesting display for your kitchen island or an unusual centerpiece for your next backyard barbecue, give veggies a try.

To style sensational looking veggie arrangements, all you need is an assortment of containers, like footed glass bowls, compotes, hurricanes and apothecary jars. Then, visit the farmer’s market to pick up awesome produce. Look for a mix of shapes, from those with long stalks like celery and carrots, to those that are round and plump, like tomatoes and eggplants.

For today’s examples, we hit the aisles of Green Acres, an organic food store by Nell Hill’s Briarcliff, and scored an amazing assortment of natural art. Back at Nell Hill’s, we found a simple painted wooden tray to serve as the base of our display, then hunted around the store for a trio of different sized clear glass containers to hold the veggies.

We picked a tall, thin apothecary jar to hold this lovely bunch of baby carrots with greens.

First we added the small, ripe tomatoes to serve as a base for the arrangement.

Next, we mixed in some jalapeño peppers to add some contrast in color and shape.

We finished off by tucking in the carrots, letting the greens flow down the side of the jar.

For our second container, we decided to stay with a monochromatic color scheme. Because the veggies we wanted to feature in this grouping were short and mounded, we opted for a shallow, footed bowl that acted more like a pedestal.

First to go in is the bunch of spring lettuce.

Next, we added the head of broccoli.

The kale lends more dark, rich color and texture.

I love the petite leaves of these radish greens, which bring a soft playfulness to our arrangement.

For a bit of fun, we finished off the arrangement by tucking in some green onions, bulb and root side out, because they look like curious little flowers.

For our final container, we picked a short, footed crystal bowl to hold this colorful grouping of rotund veggies.

We started with a stalk of fennel to give the arrangement some height and movement.

Next we tucked in a few yellow squash for a pop of color.

I adore the look of radishes, especially when they have the greens still attached.

A portly eggplant is the perfect finish for this grouping.

A Few Variations…

For our garden-themed veggie centerpiece, we again started our display atop this versatile painted wooden tray, which is a perennial favorite of Nell Hill’s staff and customers.  We then found some gritty pots and saucers at Nell Hill’s. I love these little cuties because they are incredibly inexpensive yet look like vintage pots.

Once the decorative elements were in place, all we added was the bunch of carrots, tucked into a pot, and a handful of tomatoes, displayed under a clear glass cloche. I can just picture this display on the table of my screened porch.

It only took a second to pull together this fresh, fun look. We layered a thin, rectangular painted wooden tray atop our white wooden tray and turned it on the diagonal for interest.  Then we simply filled the top tray with a line of veggies, using the feathery fennel in the background to add some much-needed height.

For trays and holders to use in your veggie displays, or any other displays in your home, check out the wide assortment we’re featuring right now at Nell Hill’s Online and at all three of our stores. And, be sure to plan a visit to the stores for more ideas on how to style veggies in your home this summer.

Next week … I firmly believe that life is a little brighter when you start each morning enjoying a cup of coffee in your perfect chair. Like your favorite pair of jeans, that perfect chair is a treasured old friend. Next week, I’ll pass on important tips you’ll want to know as you begin a quest for a perfect chair for your home.

See you soon,

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23 Responses to “Got Veggies?”


    Well…this gives a whole new meaning to “Eat your veggies, kids”…..
    I love the way it all works….. Makes me want to get up real early this weekend, to hit the farmers markets!!!

    Thank you for your great ideas.

  2. Judy Says:

    And if you have a brown thumb … use these wonderful ideas for faux veggies or fruits. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  3. Rhonda Says:

    I love this (and really love your blog; I’ve even forwarded it to friends via facebook) – but am not sure it would work in my CA home… how long will the arrangements last? It seems like if I keep one piece of fruit or veggies out (not in the refrigerator), I attract gnats by the hundreds. Do you have any suggestions in my scenario?

  4. Linda Linenfelser Says:

    I look forward to each article. Thank you for all the great step by step directions and photos. Looking forward to your next article on finding the perfect chair. I have been shopping for a new chair without any luck. I’m hoping for comfort and of course the right style. Looking forward to your guidance.

  5. Mary Carol Says:

    I am so glad you have enjoyed our blog Rhonda–we are having fun doing it! I agree with you, the veggies are used for a dinner party or luncheon–then away they go–or eat them up! Fortunately, there are such nice faux fruits and veggies to substitute with.

  6. Catpurrson Says:

    While these ideas (like all of yours which I simply adore) are great, I hate to see food wasted, especially when there are so many people in this country who go to bed hungry. I’d rather see this food go to the foodbank (even though the quantity is small) and the decorating done with weeds, natural items, garden flowers, stones, shells, etc.

  7. linda murphy Says:

    What looks wonderful is a giant pile of veggies and or fruits in the center of a large table, waiting for guests to be seated. Add a couple oversized hurricane clear glass globes or silver plate pieces with candles. WAA Laa. Piles of fresh baked breads of all assorments, cheeses etc. Individual cutting boards or dips by each guest is also a nice touch. Makin’ ya hungry?? Enjoy the bounty. Lynn

  8. Patti Says:

    Thanks friend! I also like to make dip or condiment holders out of veggies.
    The “pepper girls” make colorful containers – also the small tomatoes can be sprigged as a “vase”- kermit mums are very much at home there. Nature’s decor cannot be improved on. Love to you.

  9. rikimagli Says:

    Normally your color selections are wonderful, but that color on your email and blog header is just horrible. And the design is tacky, too. I’m sorry, but it is SO unlike your store. I have to delete your emails immediately because they are so ugly. (YOU are beautiful and your store is beautiful, but that header is awful.)

    I love your work or I wouldn’t tell you that and I don’t want you to hate me so I’m using an anon email.

    Thanks for being an inspiration to us all (except for the nasty header)

  10. Janis Says:

    How about small individual veggie/fruit arrangements that could even serve as name card ssitting in the middle of the dinner plate? With a nice set of dishes, this could make a great place setting.

  11. Jan Taylor Says:

    Hi Mary Carol, the vegetable decorations are great. Also, wanted to tell you how happy my husband and I were with my purchase of one of your gazebos last Thursday. I visited your Atchison store on Wednesday, fell in love with the gazebo and made another 2 hour trip back to pick it up on Thursday. Ethel had my receipt ready at Garrity’s, sent me over to Nell’s and after some good instruction from the gentleman there, we were on our way 15 minutes later. His instructions were very helpful and it took us less than an hour to set up. Bought clematis today to plant at each corner. I’ll try to remember to send a picture when it has grown and is blooming. Thanks much.

  12. Leatrice Says:

    C’est une bonne idee!!
    Thank you Mary Carol, for always tickling my grey matter!! :0)

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    Love all your wonderful ideas—you are awesome!

  14. Joan Says:

    Thank you, Mary Carol, for this and all of your beautiful and inspiring ideas. I love that you show us how to make wonderful use of the treasures and things that we already have at hand.

    For Rhonda, and anyone who loves the beauty and abundance of fresh summer fruits, here’s a quick solution for controlling those pesky fruit flies:

    Mix 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid in a quarter cup of cider vinegar. Pour into a small shallow dish and leave on the counter top to attract the flies. Empty the dish and replenish as needed.

  15. Ann Elise Says:

    Mary Carol,
    I moved here from a small town, Canton, just outside Jackson, Mississippi after living there for all of my 31 years. My mother came to visit this summer and we went to your store at Braircliff. I want you to know how much it meant to me to visit. For the very first time since moving to Kansas, I felt like I was at home. Your store evokes the warm feeling of the South in the most authentic way. From now on when I feel homesick, I’ll be heading to one of your stores. I am charmed by everything you create and am looking forward to meeting you this year!

  16. Mary Carol Says:

    Always looking for ways to improve Rikimagli—especially with our new entry into blogging—thanks so much for your input.

  17. rikimagli Says:

    Thanks for your graciousness. Sorry mine was so harsh! You really are amazing and I’m only using YOUR paint in my home!

  18. Darlene Godsey Says:

    You know, I realize we live in a country where we have freedom of speech, but I also was brought up to have manners!! “If you cannot say something nice, than don’t say nothin at all”. If you don’t like something eye to eye contact is the best way to get your point accross. Its so rude,and so plastic to hid behind an email . To have someone who loves decorating enough to put it on a blog for us so that all of us who also love great ideas is absolutely wonderful. If you don’t like it ……don’t use the idea, but to be cruel…..is uncalled for.

  19. Anna Belle Says:

    The veggies are interesting. I would prefer to see flowers with them. Maybe put veggies in the bottom of a clear container, around a container, or flanking it. Just an idea to enhance your contribution.

  20. Particia Lapiana Says:

    Once again a superb written post from you. Keep writing!

  21. Rebecca Gibson Says:

    I like the header!

  22. Paula Hollenbeck Says:

    Beautiful and so seasonal! In May, I held a ” Sip and See” for a friend who became a grandmother for the first time and for her daughter whom I carpooled for years. I carried out the nursery theme of Peter Rabbit by placing books and displays of beautiful vegetables together on my kitchen island and on the dining table amoung the pretty eats! (Mr. McGregor’s Garden) It was so much fun!

  23. Pamela Says:

    Very nice but not practical would wilt very soon and I do not like to see food wasted ….

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