Monday, January 10, 2022

Because more plants is always the answer

The sparkle of Christmas became nothing but a memory pretty quickly around here, gone even before we celebrated the New Year. In it's place I wanted the mantel covered with lots of "living green" along with creamy white pieces from my vintage pottery collection.

Originally I mixed in a few pillar candles with the vases, but decided they looked too stiff and moved them lower, to sit in front of the firebox. We have a gas fireplace insert but rarely use it. When lit the pillars give a lovely soft light.

Since January is such a dark month here in the PNW, both plants and people need as much extra light as we can get. So I dug out the rechargeable clip-on lights I bought when I did the concrete planter mantel installation last February. 

They do a great job of providing a little extra light...

And upping the drama...

Thankfully there was a sunny day in the mix so I could take some better photos of the plants and containers.

I began my collection of pottery sometime in the late 1980's/early 1990's purchasing at thrift shops, yard sales, and antique stores. In those days the in-person hunt was part of the fun, now it's gone online—my latest acquisitions have come to me via Etsy. This vase was a Christmas gift to myself, I love it! Tucked in are a few tillandsia. 

This shallow bowl is the other piece I bought this Christmas, also from Etsy.

In it is a Begonia soli-mutata (I think, I bought it unlabeled).

This bowl was one of last year's Christmas/Etsy purchases—in it are banksia seed pods and other goodies I collected during my California garden adventures in November.

Here is a little no-name plant tucked in a tiny planter I bought years ago at a shop in Seattle called Laguna Pottery

Sadly that shop is closed now, but when I lived in Seattle I'd visit whenever I was in Pioneer Square and needed to soak up the glow of a million vintage pieces I could not afford. I don't remember how much this small pot cost but I know it was a splurge at the time.

The larger vase behind it—filled with a kokedama bromeliad—was a thrift shop find.

The orchid—a Paphiopedilum Supersuk 'Eureka' AM/AOS x Raisin Pie 'Hsinying' x Sib according to the label—needed something to help it be more of a statement, it was too dainty on it's own. A cut Trachycarpus fortunei 'Wagnerianus' frond added the needed graphic element.

This canoe planter was a score from a local antique shop going out of business.

It's filled with a trio of small pepperomia, lots of moss, and eucalyptus seed pods I picked up (literally picked up, off the ground) in California.

A mix of vintage and new. The two vases in front are vintage, the planter in back—with the dark bromeliad—is from IKEA. I picked up the IKEA pair (it's sister piece holds the orchid and palm frond) at the downtown Seattle Goodwill a few years ago, their IKEA tags still attached. I knew the luster of the finish was a perfect match for the vintage pottery, and the containers would come in handy as sort of anonymous planters.

This is another of the NOID plant we saw earlier. I bought them because their form reminded me of the "shingling" plants I love, but I am not willing to pay the outrageous prices for.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit these dried protea-family blooms are about 8 years old. I know. Gross. But they just keep on holding their shape and an occasional blast with the blow-dryer keeps them dust free. Almost.

We're to the end! You've seen these aeonium cuttings before, in this post. The anthurium in the container at the far right has also made an appearance here before, usually blooming though, with it's black "flowers". I guess it's taking a break—deservedly so after a year.

One last over-all shot...

And just two more images of the plants/planters at the base of the fireplace. This is a hanging piece that I haven't managed to get around to hanging yet. For now it sits on this simple brass stand—in it is another Begonia soli-mutata.

It's quite possible I love the rhizomes creeping over the side of this case study planter even more than the fronds on this Microsorum diversifolium. Maybe.  

That's a wrap on the fireplace and mantel plants for now... I hope you're welcoming a few new houseplants into your home during this, the darkest month in the northern hemisphere...

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All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. An arrangement like that would never work without a gorgeous mix of one kind of container. Your collection makes it shine. Love the low bowls.

    1. If I remember correctly I tried something monochromatic once before, but ended up mixing in a few of the green vases and containers. It took extreme willpower to stay with just ivory... good thing I have so many to chose from!

  2. Perfection!

    Please tell me you're at least thinking of doing a book about decorating with plants!

    1. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it, but the quick dismissal the idea got from my publisher tells me perhaps they already know there's no market for such a thing?

  3. Beautiful, Loree. Gerhard is right -- this is your next book idea, and talk idea too!

    Do I detect a stick with Austin ball moss (our native tillandsia) in the photo of the Laguna Pottery? Also, great idea to add those rechargeable reading lights to brighten up your display.

  4. Trachycarpus is the star on your mantle! And I love seeing it outside your living room window, too.
    The blow-dryer idea is great for fragile, dried foliage. Don’t know why I never thought of that.

    1. Good eye! The one we can see from our window is our next door neighbor's, a nice "borrowed view"...

  5. Okay, I note that both Gerhard and Pam are on board on the decorating with plants book idea. I'm sure you can find a publisher that would embrace the idea but, if not, you can start a GoFundMe page to support self-publishing it and rake in the proceeds for yourself. Your mantel makes me think I should rescue some of the "houseplants" I have in my lath house, currently too cold for many of them, and allow them to decorate my half-bare mantel in the warmth of the house.

    1. Thank you for your continued support of the idea, you definitely are helping me to see the possibilities! As for your mantel... do it! I'm sure the triplets would love the company.

  6. The light is perfect, and the mantel looks beautiful. And I couldn't agree more about with the title of your post. :)

  7. I love your mantel decor as it changes season to season, Loree. Always tasteful and interesting! And yes, I second the motion for a decorating book, too.

    1. You all are very encouraging... thank you!

  8. I re-visited last February's concrete installation then dove head first into Etsy's Laguna Pottery – a dangerous endeavor! Eventually I came back up to enjoy you mantel display. I love the creamy-white vintage (or vintage-inspired) ceramic collection a lot. The palm frond is great at centering the entire display, where I find "the banksia seed pods and other goodies" to be my favorites!

    1. Someone—was it you?—commented when I first shared those "goodies" that they would probably be showing up on my mantel soon. So I pretty much had to include them!


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