Halloween Leaf Ghosts!

It’s Halloween this weekend and I am sure some of you will be hosting Halloween parties or are just decorating your homes to be ghoulish and gruesome. Instead of spending a fortune on decorations from the shop, why not save money and have some fun by creating these amazing Halloween leaf ghosts using autumn leaves. It couldn’t be easier…

My leaf ghosts

My leaf ghosts

 
1. Firstly head outdoors and choose some autumn leaves to make your ghosts with. We chose maple and oak leaves as we think they are the best ghost like shapes.

 Acer leaves are great for this craft project

Acer leaves are great for this craft project

2. Make sure the leaves are nice and dry and then paint them white. It may take a few coats of paint to make them really nice and white.

Painting is ALWAYS fun

Painting is ALWAYS fun

3. Once the paint is dry simply draw on eyes and a big ghosty mouth.

Carefully draw the eyes and mouth

Carefully draw the eyes and mouth

We think if you made lots of these you could make a really fabulous mobile from these leaf ghosts, but remember to paint both sides of the leaf if you are doing this.

My ghost leaves look great with the other decorations I have made

My ghost leaves look great with the other decorations I have made

Hugs & kisses, Happy Halloween everyone!

Lulu xx

A is for Apple Day!

Did you know that today, 21st of October, is National Apple Day? I am glad that the Apple has it’s own special day as they are so yummy and super easy to grow. I should know as I have two apple trees which I can keep a close eye on from my playhouse which nestles cosily in between them. As an apple expert, here are my top tips on the best apples to grow in Scotland…

My playhouse nestles in between two apples trees

My playhouse nestles in between two apples trees

1. Egremont Russet

Apple ‘Egremont Russet’ is self fertile and easy to grow, making it ideal for gardens where there is only room for one tree. It is the most popular English russet variety.

2. Discovery

The Discovery apple tree is fairly wee (just like me) but always check the root stock of the tree when you are buying (see below). It produces apples quite early in the season, they have a crisp texture and ruby red skins (good for playing Snow White!)

3. Fiesta

Fiesta is one of the best cox style apples and really easy to grow. It is sometimes called the Red Pippin which I think is cute!

One of our home grown apples

One of our home grown apples

4. James Grieve

James Grieve is the classic Scottish cooking apple but it can also be eaten fresh and is good for juice. Sounds like a fabulous all rounder, just like me!

5. Katy

This is an attractive and easy to grow apple, originally from Sweden and called Katya there. It’s a red eating apple and nice and juicy and great at growing in frosty areas (perfect for us here in Scotland!)

6. Laxtons Superb

These apples come later in the season but they are worth waiting for as they are super yummy and nice and big.

7. Spartan

The Spartan is a small, sweet apple and popular with us kids (I know why, they taste awesome!) Plus they are really easy to grow, bonus!

8. Sunset

Sunset is another cox-style apple and is often preferred over the common Cox’s Orange Pippin as it is much easier to grow. They have a lovely aromatic flavour and the trees are generally not too big.

One of the most important things to look for when you are buying your apple tree is to buy one to suit your garden and how big you want it to get. Always check what the ROOT STOCK is and what size it will become. If you want a smaller tree you will want to consider a dwarf variety for your garden. Many trees are self fertilising so you don’t need to buy two and if you live in an urban environment there is a good chance there will be another apple tree nearby but it’s always best to check to ensure a bumper crop.

Me when I was littler, eating one of our home grown apples

Me when I was littler, eating one of our home grown apples

Now is the perfect time to research what tree you want and get it planted over winter (when they are sleepy, a bit like me!) and you will get some lovely, juicy apples by next summer.

Happy Apple Day everyone!

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

Garden Visit: Leven’s Hall, Lake District

It’s been a busy old summer at Vialii Towers but we managed to sneak away for a couple of weeks holiday. We visited Northumberland in our first week and Lulu had a ball doing the Fairytale Treasure Trail at Alnwick Gardens. We headed west-ward for week two and finally made a long-awaited visit to Levens Hall Gardens in the Lake District. Read on to see what we thought…

The amazing topiary at Levens Hall Gardens

The amazing topiary at Levens Hall Gardens

As you enter the gardens you are treated to a pretty, open expanse of lawn and some wonderfully ornate pots. However, it’s not until you pass through the next gate that you are treated to the wonderful sights that Levens Hall is famous for – its topiary!

Topiary at Levens Hall

Looking for shapes hidden in the topiary was fun. We thought this one looked like a grumpy Buddha!

The topiary is in a league of its own and it certainly lives up to its claim as being the finest, oldest and most extensive topiary collection in the world. It is everywhere to be seen and it is immaculate. We loved that no-one has been tempted to create topiary animals or twee shapes. The gardens are a wonderfully eclectic mix of random shapes and sizes which complement each other really well. The “top hat” tree was one of our favourites! It also shows the wide array of plants which can be used in topiary from the commonly used yew and box to the less used holly.

Off exploring the impressive hedges at Levens Hall

Off exploring the impressive hedges at Levens Hall

From the topiary section we walked along (and inside!) the tallest and widest hedge we had ever seen. It was fabulous to be inside the hedge and appreciate its amazing structure.

From there we happened across the most beautiful herbaceous border which was a wonderful array of blues, purples and whites. Again, the garden was immaculate and lovingly tended by the gardening team.

Herbaceous border at Levens Hall

A fabulous herbaceous border. We’re not sure who liked it most, us or the bees and butterflies!

From there we discovered a wonderful array of features from orchards, rose and herb gardens, grow your own areas and water features.

Water features at Levens Hall

There were wonderful focal points at every turn

Tucked away down the bottom of the garden was a small play area and bug house. Our three year old daughter Lulu loved playing down here and hunting for bugs and it was a welcome addition to the garden. Levens Hall had also thoughtfully put together a wonderful children’s quiz where you have to hunt for the details in the garden. It kept us all amused for the whole day and is perfect for children of all ages.

Lulu loved hunting for bugs

Lulu loved hunting for bugs


Elsewhere, we can recommend the cakes in the cafe and the shop had some lovely gifts with thought being put into offering local and relevant gifts for visitors. We purchased some wonderful prints of the garden which will forever remind us of a wonderful day at Levens Hall. Make it a MUST SEE on your garden list. We’ll certainly be back.

All at Vialii

Plants & Their Amazing Uses!

Like me, I bet you mainly grow plants in your garden to look pretty or to taste yummy. But did you know plants can have lots of other uses? Read on to find out just what else they can be used for in my blog “Plants & Their Amazing Uses”…

  Plants are used for a lot more than just food or being pretty


Plants are used for a lot more than just food or being pretty

Medicines

Way, way, way back in time (before even Mummy and Daddy were born) plants were the only medicines we had.  Clever medicine men and women would gather them to make potions to cure everything from a cold to a sore tummy. 800 years ago there was terrible disease called the Black Death.  Hedges were the chemists of the time.  People made little posies from the berries and flowers that could be gathered from them and waved them in front of their faces as they thought that would stop them catching the disease. Even though we now know that waving flowers in our faces can’t stop a cold, 1 in 10 of all the really, really important, essential drugs that we use all the time come from plants.

Dr Lulu looking after her poorly Daddy.

Dr Lulu looking after her poorly Daddy.

Here are just a few examples of medicines made from plants:

Clothing

A lot of the materials we use to make our clothes come from plants. My favourite cotton dresses come from the cotton plant. It would be a wonderful field to look at if it had pretty pinafores growing in it. Luckily my clever Granny Biscuits can use the cotton fabric and make them into dresses for me! Look out for other natural fibres in your clothing such as hemp or flax. I have even seen bamboo t-shirts!

I can even climb trees in my pretty  Granny Biscuits dresses made from plants!

I can even climb trees in my pretty
Granny Biscuits dresses made from plants!

Fuel

While most of our vehicles run on petrol & diesel, there are alternative fuels out there. Bio-fuels come from crops including corn and soybeans. Bio-fuels are also attractive as they are renewable and have lower emissions. Let’s hope governments make wise choices to support these types of fuels going forward and support the research required to make them cheaper and more widely available.

I am going to ask my Grandpa to run his tractor on bio-fuels

I am going to ask my Grandpa to run his tractor on bio-fuels

Shelter

Now, we all know the tale of the Three Little Pigs so we know that choosing a house made of sticks or straw isn’t the best option. However, you would be hard pushed to find a house that doesn’t use wood anywhere in its construction so we should appreciate our wonderful trees a whole lot more.

  My own house is made from wood (and has cotton curtains!)


My own house is made from wood (and has cotton curtains!)

So, next time you are out tending to your plants, say thanks to them for being such wonderful things which we simply couldn’t live without.

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx