Merry Mantels

Adorning mantels with evergreens, candles, fruit, and ornaments is a holiday tradition that dates back to the Victorian era. My own mantels are swagged with boxwood, cedar, juniper, and white pine, all thoroughly coated with Wilt-Pruf. Would you like to see how I decorated the boughs? (Hint: click pictures to enlarge.)

For the mirrored mantel in my green and cream parlor (above), a tall, fresh pineapple takes center stage, with green and yellow apples playing secondary roles. Red pomegranates provide bright accent, while clusters of green and red grapes give a feeling of opulence. Silver candlesticks, placed at each end of the mantel, complete the picture.

Over the mantel in the rose and white dining room is an old Dutch painting, presumably called “Still-life with Fruit.” The painting features orange and gold tones, which are echoed on the mantel by Clementines, golden-delicious apples, and tan Bosc and reddish-green Seckel pears. Sprigs of Winterberry provide crimson accent. For the black urns at each end of the mantel, designer Dorothy Raymond made two miniature flower arrangements, using my purple-toned African violets and sprays of cedar and yew.

If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always make a colorful arrangement on the top of a low bookcase, or on a broad windowsill. As an alternative to fruit, you can use sparkling, choice ornaments, and even live houseplants, such as purple, white or blue African violets, pink and white poinsettias, orange kalanchoes or a green, orange, and red Christmas Cherry. You will not go wrong if you weave a gold or burgundy ribbon throughout the boughs. Light candles there in the evening, and you’ll have an exuberant winter portrait.

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Related Posts:
Gifts for Gardeners: YOUR Selections!
Decorating Wreaths
Tips for Lighting & Decorating a Christmas Tree
What To Do in December


  1. I need to do this too!

    Can you still burn fires while the greens are on the mantels?

  2. Carol – Yes, I do burn fires. The cloak of Wilt-Pruf keeps the greens fresh in spite of the heat.

  3. The fruit on the greens looks wonderful. Is all of it real?

  4. Donna – yes, the fruit, the winterberries, the greens…all of them are real!

  5. Not only are the arrangements beautiful, but the mantel themselves are too! Are they marble?

  6. The mantels look great! And appropriate, too, for your Victorian house!

  7. Waaaaaa! I bought mixed greens (boxwood, juniper, and some kind of pine) for my living room mantel, but now they look terrible! I wish I'd known about wilt pruf beforehand!!!

  8. Those displays are sumptious!

  9. Samantha – Yes, the mantels are marble. The one in the dining is black Egyptian marble (or so I've been told).

    Yolanda – sorry about your (withered) greens! Can you get more, and preserve them with Wilt-Pruf?

  10. Kevin, this might be an odd question, but where do you find the time to make these decorations?

  11. Julie – I spent not more than 10 minutes on each of these mantels. But time should never be a consideration when beauty is your goal.

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