Bridge of Allan Times

An article on the official opening of Provost’s Park which Vialii designed and which was opened by our very own Lulu.

 

Bofa Times Winter 2014

Christmas Gifts For Gardeners 2014

Do you have a gardener in your life that’s fed up with the same old wellies and garden hose? Perhaps you wish to leave some subtle hints for gardening accessories you would be proud to have on show in your own garden. Then look no further as we unveil the 2014 Vialii Garden Design Christmas Gifts for Gardeners list….

 

Christmas gifts for gardeners

Need some Christmas inspiration? Well, look no further…

Stylish Terrarium

Hanging terrariums are a great space saving idea that allows your recipient to have an indoor garden. Seasonal bauble versions will look stunning on your Christmas tree but will last throughout the seasons. Those by the Urban Botanist are made from natural materials and can be purchased containing airplants or even dried scented fruit and spices, it’s a bit more contemporary than a bowl of pot-pourri! Perfect for Christmas as well as year round quirky decor.  We can’t wait to show you some photos of our Epiphyte version adoring our Christmas tree. £44.95.

The beautiful Epiphyte seasonal terrarium

The beautiful Epiphyte seasonal terrarium

A stylish alternative to Wellies

Looking for stylish gardening footwear?  Mouillere make practical and attractive plastic overshoes to protect your shoes.  They come in a range of funky colours and are suitable for men or women. Perfect for nipping out to the garden to hang out washing or pick some home grown veg.  From 49 euro.

Mouliere over shoe

Stylish and practical

Statement Hose

If your standard green garden hose is detracting from your contemporary garden design, how about one of these beautiful coloured hoses by Garden Glory. They come in a range of colours and we LOVE the matching set of antler shaped wall fixings!
The hoses start at £89.95 and the antlers are £249.95.

Stylish garden hose

Make your hose into a talking piece with this super stylish version

Space Saving Hanging Planter

If you’re short on space on the ground or shelves these hanging planters from Boskke still allow you to grow plants. Plus they are super cool and unusual and will be a definite talking point with your friends.  The recycled plastic indoor planters come in a range of vivid colours. Boskke also do outdoor versions, ceramic  indoor versions and transparent versions for orchids, whose roots would be exposed to sunlight in the wild. From £14.95.

Boskke sky planter

A brilliant way to add plants in a small space

Copper Plant Labels

With all the gold and silver to be found on Christmas ornaments, why not add some copper into the mix with these copper plant labels from Wells and Winter.  Simply write on them with a biro and the pressure leaves on indentation behind. Much prettier than white plastic labels, these beauties will be adorning some of our pots very soon. From 35p.

Copper garden labels

These will just improve with age when they develop a fine coating of verdi-gris

Rustic Cloche

Perhaps your loved ones feel plastic nets are too unsightly a method to protect young plants from birds and rabbits. These rustic architectural cloches by Sophie Conran may be just the ticket. They’re handmade and will add class to a rustic styled garden as well as keeping your prized veg safe from cheeky visitors. £15.95.

Garden cloche

Functional and stylish crop protection

Bespoke Parasol

If you’ve got a more generous budget and the dark nights are making you dream of summer, these bespoke parasols made by Sunbeam Jackie might be the ideal solution. Each parasol is made from one-off collectable pieces of designer silks, satins, linens and cottons dating from the 1920s to current time. Simply beautiful. From £1450

Beautiful garden parasol

Truly unique sun protection

Gardening Voucher

At Vialii we can offer gardening vouchers to suit your budget. They are available for both our Maintenance and Design and Landscaping businesses and to whatever value you wish. So if you want to surprise your parents by getting them a voucher to have their garden tidied or their grass cut for the year or give a loved-one a voucher for a garden design please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

A Vialii gardening voucher

A Vialii gardening voucher – The perfect solution for the hard to buy for gardener

 

And that’s our shortlist of design-led Christmas gifts for gardeners for 2014.  We hope you saw something that you’d like to add to your own wish list. We certainly covered all budgets from 35p to £1450!

Merry Christmas from all at Vialii

(All prices and suppliers correct at the time of the blog being posted. Apologies if any of these change but it’s outwith our control.)

Stirling News

The official opening of Vialii’s Provost Park in Bridge of Allan by our very own Lulu Burt.

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Lulu’s Sunflower Competition: The Results Are In…

Hey everyone. Do you remember waaaay back in February I launched “Lulu’s Sunflower Competition“? Well, it has been a busy old summer with some of my friends better than others at growing their sunflowers! But the decision has been made and we have a winner. Read on to find out who it is and to see some lovely sunflower photos…

A host of golden...sunflowers!

A host of golden…sunflowers!

Despite being the expert in all things gardening, I somehow didn’t win this competition! Must have been that one time I let M&D water my sunflower. Anyway, I still made a good effort and here is a picture of me gazing up at my sunflower:

 Mummy, who has stolen my sunflower's petals?


Mummy, who has stolen my sunflower’s petals?

But there can only be one winner of our sunflower competition (well it’s actually two) and this year it is…drum roll please…Jamie and Ollie Norton!!! Here is Ollie with the winning sunflower. It is soooo tall it is higher than the shed and his Daddy needed to hold him up to see it properly!

Ollie and the winning sunflower

Ollie and the winning sunflower

Ollie has obviously learnt his skills from his big brother Jamie who grew an enormous sunflower last year too. Ollie also planted a dwarf sunflower for Daddy’s Day and here is a photo of that one too. Might not win the prize for tallest sunflower but it could be in with a shout for the cutest!:
Ollie with his dwarf sunflower

Ollie with his dwarf sunflower

So well done to Ollie and his big bro Jamie for winning the sunflower competition. Your prize will be winging it’s way to you soon.

Lulu

Provost’s Park Blossoms

For almost four years, we at Vialii Garden Design have been working closely with Bridge of Allan Community Council to transform Provost’s Park in the heart of Bridge of Allan. The build of the new garden is now complete with the official opening on Sunday 28th September 2014…
Provost's Park, Bridge of Allan

The completed park

Being based in the village, we have been delighted to have been involved in the project from its initial concept right through the funding process and throughout the build and are thrilled to be able to give something back to the community for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Since the controversial new toilet block was finally completed in Bridge of Allan, the space around it, known as Provost’s Park, had largely been left untouched and was a sad space in an otherwise beautiful and prosperous village. The Provost’s Lamp had been renovated and given a new life but its surroundings had yet to be brought up to the same standard.

Before: the park was not befitting of beautiful Bridge of Allan

Before: the park was not befitting of beautiful Bridge of Allan

We were approached in late 2010 to discuss the possibility of being involved in the renovation of Provost Park. As a local company based in Bridge of Allan, we were delighted to be able to provide advice and designs for the benefit of the community.

Initially, Michael and Jill Burt met with some of the Community Council to discuss the project. Jill recalls:

“It was in the middle of a cold snap in the winter of 2010 when we first met up Gavin Drummond and Liz Rankin from the Community Council. They were putting up the village Christmas tree in the park to try and add some sparkle to what was otherwise an uninspiring space. At least the thick covering of snow hid the lack of interest underneath! At the meeting Liz and Gavin discussed some of the ideas that had been considered for the space and asked if we were able to pull together some thoughts.”

The design for the new Provost's Park

The design for the new Provost’s Park

Jill explains the inspiration for the design:

“There were three main requirements which jumped out at us from the outset. Firstly, the community required a practical area where they can relax and enjoy the world going by. The space needed to be usable by everyone in the community whether that’s families, couples or elderly so path widths and surfaces were important. Plentiful seating was clearly important too. Secondly, the area had to look good. The Friends of Bridge of Allan, who look after many of Bridge of Allan’s public gardens, carry out fantastic work in the community and Provost’s Park has been a contentious issue for some time. We were keen to design a space that the community could all be proud of and be happy to use. It’s a great space, right in the middle of the village so it needed to have the “wow factor” and be fitting of its focal point in such an attractive village. Lastly, we were keen to reflect the Victorian inspiration which surrounds the park and the spa village and design a garden which would be appropriate for the space.

Gazebo in Provost's Park, Bridge of Allan

The gazebo makes a wonderful focal point

“The main focal point for the design is a stunning, cast iron gazebo, situated in the centre of the formal gardens. Victorians loved symmetry and topiary so we made sure these were key features of the space. Vintage style bricks edge wide pathways suitable for all members of the community. Decorative metal screens surround the toilet block providing a nicer backdrop to the gardens and include details inspired by the village itself. In the corner closest to the toilets, an ecclesiastical garden has been created, reflecting the park once being the site of a church. Liz managed to obtain beautiful pew benches from one of the village churches which sit in this area looking onto a centre bed of perfumed plants. The central focal point of this area is the existing stone fountain.

The wall which runs the length of Provost Park will boast new interpretation boards highlighting some of the key features and historical information about Bridge of Allan. To the front of the park, a grassy area has been included, allowing space to sit out and relax and watch the world passing by.

Provost's Park, Bridge of Allan

The ecclesiastical garden and the new screens

The planting is a mixture of formal topiary as well as smaller shrubs, bedding plants and bulbs. The gardens have been kept fairly low maintenance to reduce pressure on the Friends of Bridge of Allan, who have taken over responsibility for the upkeep of the garden.It’s been a delight to work with Gavin, Liz and the team and we are honoured to have been asked to be involved in such an important project and to be able to give something back to the community. We have already, like other local residents and visitors been using and enjoying the space and it’s lovely to have this area in the heart of the village.”

View down onto the new Provost's Park, Bridge of Allan

View down onto the new Provost’s Park

The official opening will take place on Sunday 28th September 2014 from 3pm. The official opening will be undertaken by Gavin Drummond and our very own Lulu Burt. There will be music from Beaconhurst School and dancers from Dance Connections. Malcolm Allan will be giving a short talk on the Park and there will be refreshments, a slideshow and a performance by Dance Connections in the Parish Church afterwards. All are very welcome and we hope you can join us to celebrate this wonderful project.

Lulu preparing to open the new Provost's Park, Bridge of Allan

Lulu preparing to open the new Provost’s Park

You can read more about Provost’s Park and our other garden transformations on our website.

Best wishes,

All at Vialii

Vive La Evolution!

Gardens evolve. It’s just what they do. Plants grow. New plants are added. Circumstances change. Paint colours are updated. New focal points are added. It’s part of the beauty of gardening, watching and helping them evolve over the months and years. Our own garden has changed a lot over the last four years. Read on to see how…

Gardens evolve. The deck has changed a lot this year

The deck has changed a lot this year

Back in 2010, we were itching to get out into the garden and transform it. We had spent the previous couple of years completely renovating our house and the garden had been put on the back burner. The design was ready – we had been beavering away perfecting it every time we had a minute so we were sure it covered everything we wanted it to.

The garden design

The garden design

 

Another driving force to get the garden completed in 2010 was that we had decided to get married in it that September. Cue asking all our friends for help!

We had inherited a modest sized garden (approx 15m x 15m) and it was pretty much a blank canvas. We knew there were some amazing views hidden behind an overgrown hedgerow and an old rotten apple tree – it was a priority for us to showcase that view again.

Before: the blank canvas and the hidden view

Before: the blank canvas and the hidden view

Other must-haves on our list included a morning patio, a large deck for entertaining in a sunny corner, lawn, a veg patch and to attract wildlife.

The first job was to bring in the BIG machinery and clear the garden:

The diggers arrived to clear the garden

The diggers arrived to clear the garden

We could then work on adding in some new boundaries. We opted for a contemporary horizontally slatted fence to the sides but in order to maximise the views and to work with the landscape beyond we created a log fence to the rear of the garden. You can see through the fence as well as easily seeing over the logs and we chose to paint them black to keep them contemporary as well as to be a great backdrop to the planting. A new “archway” added height to the garden. Raised veg beds were a priority so that we could get some home produce on the go:

The fencing, veg beds and archway take shape

The fencing, veg beds and archway take shape

The next consideration were seating areas. The sunniest corner was up beside the new log fence which also had a risk of being a bit boggy from the fields. We decided a raised deck was our best option but we didn’t want any ordinary deck! Firstly we built brick troughs with bespoke seating in between for additional seating:

 

The rendered troughs and seating start to take shape

The rendered troughs and seating start to take shape

Thermawood was our choice of material for the decking and we laid this in different patterns to create interest. We also added large glass blocks with lighting set underneath and in-set a feature Prunus Serrula tree.

The deck boards are laid and lights fitted

The deck boards are laid and lights fitted

[[image:blog-vivelaevolution-7.jpg=The deck boards are laid and lights fitted]]

The morning patio was our next task on our list. A contemporary limestone was our choice of material for this part of the garden:

The morning patio is laid in limestone

The morning patio is laid in limestone

We were keen to get planting in ASAP so that it could fill out as much as possible before the wedding. Laying out the plants that we had and markers for those which we we still had to source took a lot of time and planning!:

Planting starts to take shape

Planting starts to take shape

We are always telling clients that journeys and focal points are an important part of all gardens, no matter the size. As we wanted our garden to be wildlife friendly a water feature was something we were keen to include and thus the “canal” was born. The long, rectangular pond had stepping stones across it which were to become the aisle for the wedding in the coming months. At the far end we placed a bespoke sculpture made of a corten steel globe to draw the eye upwards to the wonderful view beyond:

The "canal" and the metal globe

The “canal” and the metal globe

A curving path leading up to the main deck would become obscured as the plants matured over time, adding mystery to the garden. Some turf completed the garden build (for now…):

The curving path leads you to the main decked area

The curving path leads you to the main decked area

The garden was completed just in time for the Big Day!

The chairs set out ready for the wedding ceremony

The chairs set out ready for the wedding ceremony

 

The newly married couple on the "aisle"

The newly married couple on the “aisle”

As with all gardens, they mature and evolve. And as lives change so do your garden requirements. A HUGE change for us was welcoming our little Lulu into the world in 2012. We knew we wanted the garden to be a safe place for her to play and enjoy being outdoors. Whilst there are ways of securing ponds to make them child friendly (we are about to install pond grid on a project we are undertaking for Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre) our pond was suffering from alkalinity issues which were impacting on the aquatic plants. We decided that it was best all round to fill in the pond and create a larger, grassy area for Lulu to run around.

Lulu came along and the garden evolved again

Lulu came along and the garden evolved again

To stop Lulu wandering off we put a gate on the garden made from old pallets. We also made a few herb pallet planters for our herbs:

Jingles the cat inspects the new pallet gate

Jingles the cat inspects the new pallet gate

And while we were at it we used even more pallets to create this personalised sand pit on the morning patio:

Lulu gives the sand pit her seal of approval

Lulu gives the sand pit her seal of approval

Storage became more of an issue so we made our own garden shed out of old pallets and some fence slats. A living roof, a spoon handle, love heart peephole and chain overflow added to its quirkiness. A bespoke bird table made from left over timbers and some samples of cedar cladding was also added to the garden.

The new shed and bird table

The new shed and bird table

We decided we wanted to add a splash of colour to the garden so we introduced some lovely pink pots to our morning patio:

New pink pots add a splash of colour to the patio

New pink pots add a splash of colour to the patio

The pink then inspired us to give the troughs on our deck a bit of a makeover:

The pink spread to the troughs!

The pink spread to the troughs!

Upcycling has been a big theme for 2014 and we created a new “pot” for the deck out of some old trailer tyres:

The upcycled tyres painted bright colours

The upcycled tyres painted bright colours

And the wheel rims didn’t go to waste either. Lulu sowed some bee and butterfly friendly seeds in them:

The tyre rims planted with wildlife friendly plants

The tyre rims planted with wildlife friendly plants

The veg patch has filled out and provides lots of lovely fruit and veg for the family:

The veg patch has really filled out

The veg patch has really filled out

The planting has matured nicely and the curving path now leads you round to discover what lies beyond. A new corten steel lantern is one of several new focal points which have been placed in borders:

The planting has done its job in obscuring the deck

The planting has done its job in obscuring the deck

The planting has filled out nicely and the bees love it!:

The planting has matured nicely]

The planting has matured nicely]

The globe is still a key focal point and is now surrounded with pretty planting:

The globe is still a central feature of the garden

The globe is still a central feature of the garden

So over a short period of time our garden has grown, matured and evolved and continues to give us all a great deal of pleasure.

For more information on transforming your own garden please get in touch.

Best wishes,

All at Vialii

Book Review: Scotland for Gardeners (2014 Edition)

A preview copy of the newly updated Kenneth Cox book Scotland for Gardeners landed on the door step of Vialii Towers this weekend and, as usual, we didn’t delay in checking it out and putting it to good use…

Scotland for Gardeners

The shiny new 2014 edition

 

We already have a very well thumbed copy of the original version of Scotland for Gardeners. It is packed full of pieces of paper and leaflets and paraphernalia relating to the wonderful array of gardens contained inside.

For those who haven’t come across the original, Scotland for Gardeners covers literally thousands of gardens throughout Scotland. From the grand estates with coffee and gift shops to the private gardens which are only open on certain days of the year the book is a must have for anyone who loves to visits gardens on their travels. There are also nurseries, wildflower walks, parks and all sorts of lovely public areas to explore. If it’s a garden and it’s open to the public then you will likely find it in this book. Scotland for Gardeners is the largest survey of its kind and also the only guidebook dedicated solely to visiting gardens in Scotland. The newly updated version contains over 100 new gardens.

Scotland for Gardeners

The book is packed full of beautiful photography

Those who have met Kenneth Cox and been regaled of his wonderful knowledge of rhododendrons and gardens in general you will know that this book has been well researched and lovingly put together. Kenneth has a passion for gardens and for Scotland in particular and the book reflects this wonderfully. The book is also crammed with beautiful, full colour photographs taken by Ray Cox, Kenneth’s brother.

The only criticism we could make of the book are the maps and even then it is a minor point. The maps are invaluable but we feel it would be clearer if those parts of the map which don’t relate to the chapter in question were greyed out. Perhaps a page number over that greyed area linking to the relevant chapter would help too? That way if you are on the border of a region it would be much easier to explore the surrounding areas. A small point but perhaps one that can be considered on the next update.

Scotland for Gardeners

The maps make it easy to explore by certain areas, perfect for holidays

We have already used the original Scotland for Gardeners to explore a great many gardens on our travels. Here are some of our favourites which you may want to include in your own itinerary…

p376: Garden of Cosmic Speculation, nr Dumfries

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, the garden belonging to its designer Charles Jencks, is a firm favourite of ours. Nestled just outside Dumfries and only open one day a year, you need to make a bit of an effort to see this one. But, boy, is it worth it! From the infamous Jencks landforms to woodland walkways and sculptures at every turn, there is never a dull moment in this garden. The garden is inspired by mathematics and science and beholds features such as the Blackhole and the DNA garden. Entry money goes to the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres which were set up in memory of Charles’ late wife, Maggie Keswick Jencks.

The Blackhole in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Blackhole in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation

p385: Logan Botanic Gardens, nr Stranraer

Tucked away beside the Solway Firth in the South West of Scotland, Logan Botanic Gardens enjoys  being situated in the Gulf Stream, thus allowing for exotic plants to flourish. From its mighty tree ferns to a gunnera bog, Logan can showcase plants you wouldn’t normally expect to see in Scotland. We particularly loved the serenity of the Water Garden. Kids will love to explore through the gunnera jungle or if you are a fan of plants, enjoy meandering around the Walled Garden which is a blaze of colour from Spring through Autumn and is a real celebration of the world of plants.  Or if grasses are your thing, the Rock Gulley showcases grasses from around the world.

The almost Jurassic tree ferns at Logan Botanic Gardens

The almost Jurassic tree ferns at Logan Botanic Gardens

p180: Drummond Castle Gardens, nr Crieff

These gardens are just a stones throw away from our home yet we only discovered them in recent years. The public can’t access the Castle, but who would want to with such amazing gardens to explore? The gardens are a perfect example of formal gardens in the style of the 17th Century Scottish Renaissance. They were recreated in Victorian times and then renewed again in the 20th century. The symmetry is stunning, the topiary first class and there are some fine examples of statues throughout the garden. If you like your gardens well kept, you are unlikely to find a finer specimen. The reveal as you arrive at the top of the steps at the entrance to the garden will simply take your breath away.

The stunning formal gardens at Drummond

The stunning formal gardens at Drummond

p382: Glenwhan Gardens, Dunragit, nr Stranraer

Another wonderful garden near Stranraer, Glenwhan is a series of discoveries and wonders. Filled with sculptures, ponds, walkways, wildlife and stunning plants you can happily ensconce yourself in Glenwhan for the day. Plants range from rhododendron and magnolia to lovely bog garden favourites such as rodgersia, primulas and hostas. Take good footwear as there are lots of hills and rocky terrain to climb to take advantage of the best views. Not the best garden for wheelchairs and buggies but you will still be able to see parts of the garden. There’s a coffee shop and plant sales to revive you when you are flagging.

Beautiful sculpture at Glenwhan Gardens

Beautiful sculpture at Glenwhan Gardens

p259: An Cala, Isle of Seil, nr Oban

An Cala can be visited under the “Open Gardens” scheme in Scotland and we are so glad the owners allow people to share in the beauty of their garden. The garden doesn’t look too big when you enter but it has been cleverly designed with a myriad of paths taking you in all directions. Beautiful ponds, waterfalls and rills make water an important feature of the garden. There is a quirky gazebo decorated entirely in pine cones. Wire sheep sculpures add a bit of humour to the garden (and bring a new meaning to baa-rbed wire!) And from fragrant roses to delightful deutzias the planting is a dream too.

Sheep sculptures at An Cala

Sheep sculptures at An Cala

For more information on Scotland for Gardeners visit the publisher’s Birlinn’s website. Available from 27 June 2014, priced £25.

To read more about some of our own favourite gardens in Scotland and beyond click here.

Happy reading and garden visiting!

All at Vialii

Upcycled Garden Ideas

Regular readers are well aware that we love a bit of upcycling and are always turning unused items into wonderful new features in our garden. So far we have told you about our garden shed, pallet planters and a pallet sand pit and gate which grace our back garden. Here are some of our latest upcycled garden projects in our ever evolving garden…

The upcycled garden bird cage is a great place to display alpines

The upcycled garden bird cage is a great place to display alpines

 

1. Upcycled garden bird table

We love attracting wildlife into our garden and we felt that our birds deserved a posh table to dine at. So Mr Vialii set about seeing what he could create from various left over pieces of timber. Once the main carcass was created the table was given a coat of lovely bright turquoise paint. The roof was clad in some cedar shingle samples which we were sent from a supplier and the house was finished off with some fancy lead flashing, courtesy of our next door neighbour who was clearing out her garage! If that doesn’t entice our local feathered friends then we don’t know what will!

The upcycled bird table has a cedar roof and lead flashing!

The upcycled garden bird table has a cedar roof and lead flashing!

2. Upcycled trailer wheels

We had some old wheels from our trailer which had been replaced. Never ones to throw anything way we decided to put all parts to good use. The tyres were painted bright colours and stacked to create a contemporary planter for some cloud topiary.

Old tyres can become an eye catching garden feature

Old tyres can become an eye catching garden feature

The wheels were filled with compost and our clever Lulu has sown some butterfly friendly flowers in them to create a colourful entrance to our veg patch soon. You could paint these funky colours too but we decided to go rusty at this end of the garden.

The old rims were planted with wildlife friendly flowers

The old rims were planted with wildlife friendly flowers

3. Upcycled garden bird cage

We had acquired a vintage bird cage which looked beautiful in its own right. But we decided we could make it even more beautiful by adding some pots (a wonderful array, again donated by our neighbour during her clear out!) and a selection of alpines.

Some pretty pots and alpines give this pretty bird cage a new purpose in life

Some pretty pots and alpines give this pretty bird cage a new purpose in life

4. Upcycled cheese boxes

This was a lovely project which we did for Mother’s Day. To find out how to make your own, visit Lulu’s Garden Blog for a step by step guide…

Pansies in cheese boxes makes a lovely gift

Pansies in cheese boxes makes a lovely gift

We have a few more upcycling ideas up our sleeve which we will tell you all about soon.

If you want to commission us to make any of these upcycled garden features for you or would like to discuss how we can help you transform your garden using some upcycling tips then please get in touch.

Thanks for reading,

All at Vialii

When Is A Good Time To Think About A Garden Design?

We often have clients asking when is a good time to think about a garden design. And while the answer to that is pretty much anytime there are some perfect times of the year to get the ball rolling…

When is the right time to think about a garden design

Our garden designs are drawn up in CAD then hand coloured

Many clients apologise for contacting us in the heart of Winter and think it is silly to be discussing gardens when the weather is often so bad outside. But Winter and Spring can be the perfect time to start the ball rolling with your garden design

How long will a design take?

The design process can take up to a few months to complete depending on the complexity of the garden. At our initial consultation we will discuss ALL your requirements (many of which you will not have considered) so that we know exactly how you want to use the garden, who will use it and some of the features and plants you like (or sometimes more importantly, those you don’t like!)

Our designs create journeys and interest around the garden

Our designs create journeys and interest around the garden

What is the design process?

We will then take time to come up with a few concepts and then meet up to discuss these with you. This interim meeting will discuss costs, materials and various aspects of the design. From there we will do our final drawings, moodboard and our collate the build costs. Doing a design takes time to ensure we get the garden which is right for that particular client and also for that specific garden and its setting. We need to consider topography, soil type, existing features and planting, surrounding landscapes, access and much more before finalising our designs. All of our designs are drawn up on CAD to ensure accuracy and then hand coloured for a more natural finish.

A moodboard shows the inspiration for the design, materials, features and planting proposed

A moodboard shows the inspiration for the design, materials, features and planting proposed

Allow time for our landscaping team

The client also needs to factor in that all good landscapers should already have several projects on their books which means they won’t be able to start your garden straight away. At Vialii our outdoor team are usually pre-booked for 2-3 months on build projects so by contacting us in winter/spring you are much more likely to have your garden designed and built by summer so you can enjoy it in the good weather. Although we can’t guarantee the good weather!

One of the many gardens which we have successfully designed and lovingly built over the years

One of the many gardens which we have successfullyOne of the many gardens which we have successfully designed and lovingly built over the years designed and lovingly built over the years

That said we design and build gardens all year round. And we mean all year! Unless the weather is incredibly bad we will be out there all through the year transforming gardens.

So really, no time is too early a time to think about a garden design. If you are considering a new look to part or all of your garden for this year, get in touch and we will be round to take those first steps with you.

All at Vialii

Lulu & The Sunflowers

As I might have mentioned last week, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! I am now a big, grown up two year old. I don’t know where the last year went. Mind you, at least I can read back on my blogs to see what I have been up to 😉 Anyway, M&D threw me a wonderful party at the weekend and my lovely friends came along to celebrate. At the end I gave them all a party bag which contained something very special indeed…some sunflower seeds! So, I have officially launched the “Lulu & The Sunflowers Competition”. We all have to plant the sunflower seeds and send in photos of us standing beside our sunflowers. The person who grows the tallest sunflower wins a prize, huzzah!

Now, as I am taking part in this competition too (no show without punch!) I don’t want to give away too many tips to the opposition. But, I am taking my chances ‘cos I know that you, my lovely readers, all want to hear my top ten secrets for growing sunflowers…

Is there anything as cheery as sunflowers on a sunny day?

Is there anything as cheery as sunflowers on a sunny day?

  1. You can plant your sunflower seed straight out where you plan to grow it. You need to wait until the last frost has passed though. Just dig over the soil and remove any weeds.
  2. If you don’t have anywhere in the garden to plant your seeds, don’t worry you can plant them in pots too, just make sure there is plenty space for the roots to grow.
  3. Sunflowers like lots of sun (isn’t that a coincidence Mummy?!) so choose your spot carefully.
  4. Dig a drill about 12mm deep
  5. Plant your seeds, leaving about 10cm between each one
  6. Cover your seeds with soil then water them gently. You will need to keep them well watered.
  7. As they grow, if they are too close together then thin out your sunflowers so they are 45cm apart, leaving the strongest seedlings.
  8. You may need to protect young seedlings from slugs and snails. If you cut the top off a plastic bottle you can use that to protect them.
  9. As your sunflower grows you will need to give it some support so add a cane and loosely tie the seedling to the cane.
  10. Sit back and watch your sunflower grow. And grow. And grow. And grow. And grow…

And remember, after your sunflowers have finished blooming, leave the flower heads so the birds can feast on the seeds.

I'm aiming high with my sunflowers!

I’m aiming high with my sunflowers!

I can’t wait to get started. I am soooooo going to win this competition! I’ll let you know later in the summer how everyone got on. Remember to send in pics of you with your sunflowers in the summer, I would love to see them.

Lulu

P.S. I will need to work hard to beat my friend Jamie – he grew a huge sunflower last year so he has lots of experience already!

Birthday Carrot & Pineapple Muffins

It’s officially birthday season, hooray! I have been at birthday parties the last two weekends to celebrate with my lovely friends. What is even more exciting is there is another party this weekend and it’s mine! I will officially be a big girl – I, Lulu Ann Burt, will be TWO years old! As you know I (with a little help from M&D) like to cook with lovely things from the garden and that goes for birthday baking too. Here is one of the lovely treats in store for party-goers this weekend – carrot & pineapple muffins!

Yummy carrot & pineapple muffins, ready for my birthday party!

Yummy carrot & pineapple muffins, ready for my birthday party!

Carrots are a main ingredient of what I am going to tell you about today. Carrots store really well and you may be lucky enough to still have some left from your own garden. I love growing carrots – my top tips for growing carrots are:

  I love a carroty nibble! And look, my hair even looks like a pineapple!

I love a carroty nibble! And look, my hair even looks like a pineapple!

There are loads of yummy things to do with carrots from eating them raw to cooking them to have with your dinner or in soups. I like baking with them too as they are sweet and healthy. Today I am going to share the recipe which my friends will get to try at the weekend:

Birthday Carrot & Pineapple Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 100g/4oz plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml/7fl oz vegetable oil
  • 90g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g/4½oz finely grated carrots
  • 225g/8oz tinned crushed pineapple, semi-drained
  • 100g/4oz raisins
To make:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Beat the oil, sugar and eggs until well blended. Add the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and raisins. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating just enough to combine all the ingredients.
3. Pour the batter into muffin trays lined with paper cases and bake for 25 minutes (1). Cool on a wire rack.Now I just need to work on growing pineapples 😉

Lulu

(1) If you want to make smaller ones you will need to reduce your baking time

Thanks to the very clever Annabel Karmel for coming up with this recipe. She rocks!

Make Your Own Upcycled Pallet Planter

Upcycling is all the rage just now. Not only does it help save money, it can turn something old and unwanted into something new and unique. We love a bit of upcycling at Vialii, whether it be creating an upcycled garden for clients or simply adding a few new features into our own garden – from containers and sand pits to sheds and gates, pallets have been put to good use at Vialii Towers! It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s fun and it’s hugely satisfying. In our latest blog we give you a step by step guide to make your own bespoke upcycled pallet planter…

Personalised, bespoke upcycled pallet planter

Personalised, bespoke pallet planters

1. Deconstruct your pallet

Discard any pales which won’t be of use in the container you are building.

Deconstruct your pallet

Deconstruct your pallet

2. Get cutting

Cut your pieces of pallet to size so that you can start to create your uprights and your end panels.

Start cutting down your pallet to size

Start cutting down your pallet to size

3. Make your sides

Add pieces of pallet to make the sides of your upcycled pallet planter.

Make your sides

Make your sides

4. Make the bottom

Once you have your four uprights and sides secured you can create the bottom of your planter.

Make the bottom

Make the bottom

5. Sand your planter

Your carcass of your container is now ready for sanding down.

Sand your planter

Sand your planter

6. Personalise your planter

We like to add personalisation to our planters. We simply print the wording onto card then cut it out.

Personalise your planter

Personalise your planter

You can then use your template to spray the words onto your planter.

Spray your wording onto your planter

Spray your wording onto your planter

7. Line your planter

You need to line your planter with polythene to help protect your wood. Remember to add drainage holes at the bottom.

Line your planter

Line your planter

8. Add compost and plants to complete your upcycled pallet planter

Fill the planter with compost (and water retaining crystals if you wish) and then choose whatever plants you want to put in it.

Add compost and plants

Add compost and plants

And here’s the finished planter, perfect for growing herbs near the kitchen door.

The finished planter

The finished planter

There you have it. Our cheap and easy pallet containers. If you want more information on these containers, would like to commission us to make one or have any gardening queries please get in touch.

Best wishes

All at Vialii

Vialii Review of 2013

Happy new year to all our lovely readers. As we move forward into 2014, we take a moment to have a review of 2013 and some of the highlights for Vialii and the trends that we saw…

Review of 2013: A lovely visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2013

A lovely visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2013

The year of the garden room

2013 saw our clients wholeheartedly embrace the outdoor room. From designer offices to simpler summerhouses we had several clients wanting to introduce outdoor living areas into their gardens. One of our favourites was this custom built garden pod which provided shelter from the rain and prevailing wind whilst still making you feel part of the garden. And with two more garden rooms already lined up for 2014 this trend doesn’t look like it’s going away…

The garden "pod" is a great focal point in this garden as well as somewhere to shelter from the weather

The garden “pod” is a great focal point in this garden as well as somewhere to shelter from the weather

The year “Lulu’s Garden” launched

Our very own Lulu started up her own gardening blog for our sister company Vialii Garden Services in 2013. She puts us at VGD to shame with her regular, fun and educational blogs on all aspects of gardening. Click here to catch up on what’s happening in Lulu’s Garden…

Lulu's Garden Blog

Lulu launched her own blog, all about fun and interesting things to do in (or related to) the garden

The year of the Community Garden

2013 saw us being involved in two community garden projects. Our design of Provost’s Park in Bridge of Allan finally came to life in October and we completed our designs for the Jupiter Urban Wildlife Garden too. It was an honour to be involved in both projects and we look forward to spending time in both gardens in 2014.

The construction of our Provost's Park design got underway in 2013

The construction of our Provost’s Park design got underway in 2013

The year of the Vialii team

Our talented Vialii team sprouted new buds and grew well in 2013. Corrie and Gordon were joined by Neil on the maintenance side while both Connor and Kenny came on board for VGD in 2013. Jill also officially joined Michael working in the business in 2013 and with Lulu busily blogging away, Vialii became a true family business. We look forward to the team growing from strength to strength in 2014.

The Vialii team on a well earned night out

The Vialii team on a well earned night out

The year of upcycling

From a garden in Glasgow featuring lots of upcycled items, our own upcycled products made from old pallets to the “Upcycled Garden” for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, 2013 was the year for making the most of what you had.

Bespoke garden planters made from upcycled pallets

Bespoke garden planters made from upcycled pallets

The year of the garden visits

Well to be honest, every year is packed full of garden visits at Vialii Towers and 2013 was no exception. From Glendoick and Branklyn to Logan and Alnwick we had our fair share of wonderful gardens in 2013, not to mention the wonderful centenary of the Chelsea Flower Show.

Lulu providing a tour of Logan Botanic Gardens

Lulu providing a tour of Logan Botanic Gardens

The year of artificial turf

We laid many new lawns with artificial turf last year – whilst it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the quality these days is great and can be a wonderful solution for gardens with issues with soil and light and for those with children and/or dogs.

Artificial turf can transform an area where real grass struggles

Artificial turf can transform an area where real grass struggles

The year of the sunshine

OK, the start of the year was pretty miserable but who cares when we get such a glorious summer?! The long, hot sunny days were wonderful for sitting enjoying gardens but also a lovely change when working outside building them too! Here’s hoping to a repeat in 2014!

An escape to the beach in the glorious summer of 2013

An escape to the beach in the glorious summer of 2013

So, there you have it, 2013 in a nutshell (or a blog!) Here’s hoping that 2014 is as much fun.

Happy 2014 everyone.

From all at Vialii

Make Your Own Hairy Caterpillar

Hi everyone, you know me well enough by now to know what I love being outdoors in the garden as much as possible. Indeed, it’s my new year’s resolution. However there are times when even I am beaten by the weather and decide to stay indoors, all nice and cosy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still garden. Today I am going to share the coolest indoor gardening project yet – make your own hairy caterpillar!

Most gardeners think I am weird as I love the “enemies” such as snails and caterpillars. In this blog I am going to show you how to make your own big hairy caterpillar which won’t munch your cabbages. Instead it will grow some lovely cress for you! Here’s how…

Make Your Own Hairy Caterpillar

You will need:

How to make:

1. Take your egg box and remove the top half. Ask a grown up to cut off the pointy bits so your egg box can sit flat when you turn it upside down. Now you can paint it green.

Paint your egg box green (or any colour you want!)

Paint your egg box green (or any colour you want!)

2. Cut out a round head from a piece of card and paint it green too. Leave the box and the head to dry then glue the head to the body.

More painting - I love it!

More painting – I love it!

3. Add colourful pom poms to your caterpillar.

Add some colourful pom poms (or glitter or whatever you like!)

Add some colourful pom poms (or glitter or whatever you like!)

4. Cut the pipe cleaners and make feelers and sellotape them to the back of the head. Glue on googly eyes and draw on a smiley mouth.

Googly eyes are a must!

Googly eyes are a must!

 

5. Add cotton wool to each hole, pour in a little water to make it damp and then sprinkle your cress seeds. Pop it on a sunny windowsill and within a week you will see your cress sprouting and your caterpillar will become a hairy caterpillar! I love adding the cress to some boiled egg for eggy cressy sandwiches!

Carefully sprinkle on your cress seeds

Carefully sprinkle on your cress seeds

There you have it, your completed caterpillar!

There you have it, your completed caterpillar!

I’d love to see photos of your caterpillars too, please email them in to me.
Lulu

Lulu’s 2014 Resolutions…

Happy new year to all my lovely readers. It’s the time of year when we say farewell to 2013 and are making our resolutions for the year ahead and this year I resolve to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It will come as no surprise to you to hear that getting outdoors is good for you, whether you are young (like me) or old (like M&D!) But just in case you need some convincing, here are some great reasons why you too should make “getting outdoors” one of your 2014 resolutions…

Fit for Free

Getting outdoors is a great way of getting exercise. You don’t need to be running marathons (like crazy Auntie Alison!). Just going for a walk in the park, doing some gardening or riding your bike is a fun way of getting fit and getting some fresh air. Plus it’s free so no expensive gym memberships required!

Get outdoors  in 2014

Get outdoors in 2014, even just to make a daisy chain

D is for Delightful

Getting outside is an important way of getting Vitamin D. We are always being told that we need to take vitamins but if we can get as much as possible direct from sunlight then that’s got to be a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a gloriously sunny day to get Vitamin D (good job seeing as we live in Scotland!), just getting outside helps. Make it one of your 2014 resolutions too!

Good Health to You

Getting outside is good for our general health. Spending time in our gardens and green spaces can reduce breathing problems such as asthma, being active can reduce obesity and it has even been shown to improve eye sight! Even in cold weather, wrap up well and head outside.

Gardening is good for your health

Gardening is good for your health

If You’re Happy And You Know It…

This is one of my favourite reasons – spending time outdoors simply makes you happy! I love being outside. It immediately improves your mood, brushes away the cobwebs and makes you happier. It’s especially nice just now, when it is often dark and wintry, to take advantage of a nice day and get out into the garden. Seeing plants coming to life and bulbs bursting through brings hope for the future and sunny days ahead. Plus its fun to pull the toys out of the garden shed and have a play 😉

Every Day’s A School Day

One of the great things about heading outside is there is always something new to learn and see. Whether it’s seeing a new plant coming into flower or discovering a new bug in the garden it’s a great way to learn about the environment and care for our wildlife. It’s much more fun to get outside and get mucky than sit indoors reading about nature in a book and it helps us understand it much better.

Keep active and learn new things in the garden

Keep active and learn new things in the garden

Social Club

Spending time outdoors is a great way to be sociable. When I go to the park I love seeing my friends and playing with them. Sometimes we arrange to meet other friends in lovely outdoor places such as Palacerigg Country Park where we can go exploring and run around or have a day at the beach. Even if we are just staying at home and playing in the garden we always see neighbours and have a chat. That’s nice.

So there you go. You can keep your faddy diets – my 2014 resolutions include getting outside as much as possible. Wishing you all a fun filled 2014.

Lulu