Now that Santa’s been and we are almost in 2017, it’s time to have a quick look back at what’s been happening in 2016. What was your favourite thing in 2016? Here are a few of my top picks, from best books and products to best places I visited…
The winner of this accolade simply has to be Jupiter Artland this year. We had a wonderful day there this summer with the very talented photographer Julie Howden who took some lovely photos of me and Tilda. It’s such a fun place to hang out. Our favourite is the land-forms by Charles Jencks which we ran around for hours! It’s packed full of amazing sculptures and bits to explore.
The winner of this award is the Fairy Trail at the Woodland Experience in Balfron. It was such good fun we went there twice and I am already planning on going back again when they re-open next Spring. There are LOTS of fairy doors to find, a wishing chair, worry tree and LOTS more.
This was a hard choice and we have reviewed lots of amazing things this year. My pick is not cheap but it’s worth the money as it’s such great quality, very practical and we will use it for years. It’s the Twigz wheelbarrow! It’s so sturdy that it makes wheeling Tilda about super easy!
We LOVE a craft project at Vialii Towers so we had plenty to consider for this award. My choice is this super cute glittery acorn.
We are always looking for cheap and easy ways to have fun outdoors. We had lots of fun playing noughts and crosses with some twigs and pebbles on an old tree stump.Free fun is the best!
Our final award, for the best book, goes to the The Children’s Garden. A brilliant book packed with loads of great ideas to do outdoors throughout the seasons.
So that’s my review of 2016. I hope you had as much fun as me. Here’s to getting outdoors and having a ball in 2017!
Happy New Year from me, Tilda and all at Vialii.
We’re getting ready to rock around the Christmas tree but if you haven’t already bought yours, are you wondering whether to go for a real or fake Christmas tree? Do you know just how environmentally friendly a real tree actually is and how it compares to a fake one? We have all the facts plus how to get rid of your real tree in an environmentally friendly way. Read on…
An artificial tree is normally made from plastic which comes from oil which makes up for two thirds of its carbon footprint. A further quarter of its environmental impact comes from the industrial emissions when it is being manufactured.
A 2m artificial tree has a carbon footprint equivalent of 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions. This is TWICE the level of a real tree which is disposed of in landfill. However if you choose a more environmentally friendly way of disposing of your tree such as burning it then a fake tree has TEN times more emissions. In other words, if you have an artificial tree you would need to re-use if for at least ten years before it became as good an option as a real tree.
The way in which you dispose of your real tree is the most important factor. If you burn your tree on your bonfire, plant it or get it chipped it reduces its greenhouse emissions by up to 80%!
For us at Vialii Towers, real always wins. And we have a wonderful option for disposal thanks to our friends at KB Trees & Hedges. Kirk will collect your tree if you live in Stirling, Bridge of Allan or Dunblane for £10 and take it away and have it chipped. The chippings will then be used to make paths at local allotments. What could be better? If you are interested in this service then click here.
If you need tips on what variety of real Christmas tree suits you best then read my blog all about it.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and many happy times around your Christmas tree, whatever kind you have.
Lulu & Tilda xx
It’s time for our annual recommendations for cool gifts to give to your loved one this Christmas which will brighten up your garden, appeal to wildlife, satisfy your tummy and help with the gardening chores. There is something to suit everyone so read on to find out more..
It’s only fair that we share our gardens with the wildlife all around us and why not treat them to a stylish place to dine at the same time? This bird feeder looks great and will be a beautiful feature in any garden and the birds will be delighted too. £29
Orla Kiely is more famous for designing textiles but her designs look great on garden products too including tools and grow your own sets. We love this ‘grow your own chillies set’ which will look great on your windowsill. £19.95
Now this is on our own wish list. This wood fired oven is perfect for cooking pizza, using as a BBQ and even for smoking food. The lovely people at Calido will even throw in a free bag of logs to get your started if you mention Vialii when you order. £199.99
And yet another great offer from Calido. We LOVE this globe firepit perfect for keeping you toasty and extending evenings out in the garden. It’s gorgeous red colour and contemporary style makes it a wonderful focal point as well as providing welcome heat on a chilly evening. Remember to quote Vialii when you purchase from Calido to get your free bag of logs. £88.99
If your loved one has everything they need apart from time then give them one of our unique garden vouchers this Christmas. From lawn treatments or weeding to garden designs and new plants they can choose whatever they want to spend their voucher on and you can choose whatever value you want to put on it. Perfect!
This lovely planter is perfect for growing herbs on your windowsill and can be customised to have whatever stencilled message you like on it. Very sweet. £9.99
Relaxing in your garden is always important and what better than one of these retro inspired chairs. £37.34
Garden art is a great way of adding a splash of colour and interest into your garden all year round. We love this colourful lizard, perfect for climbing up a garden fence. £14.99
This two litre watering can not only looks stylish but is really affordable too. £4.40
Hopefully we have managed to find some things which will make your Christmas shopping a little bit easier and provide your loved ones with something a bit unusual and stylish to add to their garden this year.
Merry Christmas everyone!
All at Vialii
1. All prices and links correct at time of publication, November 2016.
2. Make your wrapping as cool as these gifts by getting them wrapped by the fabulous Wrapistry by Cherene.
Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh. Oh, hi there, just getting in the Christmas spirit! How’s your Christmas shopping going? Still need some cool ideas for the little ones in your life who like getting outdoors? Well, you’re in luck as we have done the hard work for you and brought to you our TWELVE favourite kids Christmas gifts they might want to ask Santa for this year…
As well as getting outdoors to do a bit of gardening we love having indoor plants too. Sometimes it can be hard to remember to water them though which is why this Rainy Pot is totes perfect! The cute little cloud holds water which it gradually releases onto your plant. £24
If you’re a busy gardener like us you need a handy tool bag for all your tools. We love this one which features one of our favourite characters, the Gruffalo! It even comes with three tools to get you started. £14.99
He’s Popeye the Sailor Man.
He’s Popeye the Sailor Man.
He’s strong to the finish,
Cause he eats his spinach,
He’s Popeye the sailor man.
Now you can grow your own spinach and get huge muscles just like Popeye! £6.99
These pretty jars work on solar energy and are perfect for lighting up the garden on a wintry evening so the fairies can still see where they are going. £14.99
If someone in your life has everything they need apart from time then treat them to one of our Vialii garden vouchers. It can be spent on anything from grass cuts to a pretty new planter and you can choose any value you like. Perfect. Just like us 🙂
We LOVE growing blueberries in our garden (almost as much as we love picking and eating them!) This lovely pair of blueberry bushes comes in terracotta pots and are perfect for your patio. £38
If blueberries are too sweet for you, try growing something gruesome like these bug eating plants! Perfect for the little monster in your life! £8
This cool kit has all that you need to grow some cool and unusual veg – from purple carrots to red brussel sprouts you will wow your friends with your quirky homegrown produce. £14.99
Gnomes have got a bit of a reputation for being a bit twee but no-one is going to mess with this zombie gnome. Wonder what he gets up to when we’re not around, yikes! £9.99
This kit has all that you need to make your very own den. From tarpaulin to mallet you will be able to head off on adventures and create dens wherever you go. Perfect for your own little adventurer. £34.95
Our mummy loves flamingos so we are going to save up all our pennies to buy these kitsch garden flamingos for her (sshhhh, don’t tell her!) These are the original designer ones but there are other cheaper ones available as a single pair too. £59.95 for two pairs.
How cool is this watering can? It looks like an alien! They come in different funky colours. Perfect for keeping kids entertained for hours. £58
So, there you go, our eclectic mix of cool stuff for kids this Christmas. Happy shopping everyone.
Love Lulu & Tilda xx
Prices and links correct at time of publication.
Everywhere we go just now there are lovely autumn jewels to find which are perfect for making crafts. From conkers to acorns, pine cones to leaves, read on for some great autumn craft ideas of things to make when you are tired out from jumping on leaf piles!
I love fairies and fairy gardens so this one was top of my list to make! Take a pine cone and glue an acorn to the top of it to make a head. Add some leaves to make wings and a skirt as well as a little addition to her hat and that’s her complete. I used sage leaves for my wings but sycamore leaves would look awesome too.
This is the simplest of all my autumn crafts but it’s soooo cute and they are great fun to play with. It was Tilda’s favourite! Just take some modelling clay (we used play dough) and make a sausage shape. Add a conker for its shell and make the feelers/face at one end. The quickest craft for the slowest creature!
These are super cute and easy to do. Take an acorn without its hat. Glue on some eyes, a beak and some feathers and you’re done. It would be cute to make a row of these. You could even glue them onto a branch.
We decorated a couple of different acorns which are easy to then attach some string to in order to make the coolest necklaces ever! One option is to paint the acorn, draw on a cute wee face and then glue its hat on at a jaunty angle! My favourite though is the glittery acorn necklace. Simply cover the acorn in glitter (I chose one colour for the main acorn and another for it’s hat). Leave it to dry, add some string and you have a gorgeous necklace.
What ideas do you have for autumn crafts?
I love gardens and I love fairies so put the two together and whooosh, it’s like a fairytale ending! In this latest blog I have soooo much to tell you including some AMAZING fairy gardens to go and visit. AND (yes, there’s more!) how to make your very own fairy garden. Come on, let’s go see…
I am a very lucky girl as Tilda and I have been to visit two fairy gardens recently. Last week, when we were on holiday, we went to Alnwick Gardens which has a fairytale treasure hunt in it. I have already blogged all about that in A Garden of Fairy Tales so click on the link to go read all about there.
Last month we also visited the Fairy Woodland Experience in Balfron which I want to tell you all about. When you arrive you get a map to guide you around the woodland and there are cute little log with arrows all around the paths to keep you in the right direction. On the day we arrived there was a bit of a panic as the key which opens all the fairy doors had been lost and it was up to us to find it and make sure the fairies could get back in and out of their doors!
When we arrived at the Fairy Village we were met by two real life fairies.We were given our fairy names (my name was Rose River and Tilda’s was Glimmer Thistle, cute huh?) and some quiz sheets. On the treasure trail there was a lot to find such as who lived behind the pink door and who lived at number 72. Thankfully we managed to find the missing key (phew) so that solved that crisis. In the village there was loads to see and do – lots of fairy doors to spot, a wishing chair, a worry tree and loads more.
We carried on round the larger woodland walk and found lots more fairy doors and it was a pretty walk through the woodland. We even stopped for a wee picnic on our way.
Back at the hub there was free tea, coffee, juice and biscuits as well as colouring in to do. There’s also a cute shop selling lots of lovely fairy merchandise. My grandma bought Tilda and I fairy doors which we used to make our fairy garden which I will tell you about in a minute.
We would HUGELY recommend the Fairy Trail. It is only £4 per person (under 2s are free) and we spent hours and hours there. The Fairy Trail is open Thursdays and weekends through September and open through the October school holidays. It will then become the light experience and then the Santa experience before the fairies allow us back to visit again from next March.
Inspired by our visit to Balfron, Tilda and I decided to make our own fairy gardens. Here is how we made ours:
You will need:
1. My clever daddy made me a wooden frame for my garden. You could use a tray or even an old shoe box would work.
2. We had some off-cuts of artificial grass which we cut to size. You could ask your grown up to send off for a sample of artificial grass which you could use.
3. To decorate our fairy doors we added the stickers which came with them and glued them to our frame.
4. We then went wild and designed our garden. Luckily I could get some top tips from M&D who are garden designers. They said we needed to allow a path to the door and somewhere to sit. A hopscotch path was created and we made decks out of lollipop sticks! I made a pond from some mosaics as well as some trees. We found some flowers and used pine cones as shrubs. I also made a wishing seat from a painted stone and made a sign. We even made a washing line and some glittery clothes for my fairy! Tilda made some cool garden furniture using little wood circles and stones. Some toadstools finished off our gardens perfectly.
We left buttons outside our fairy doors so fairies know it is empty and they are welcome to come and live there. I hope some come to visit soon!
Hugs & kisses,
Rose River (aka Lulu) xx
We have just planted eight cypress trees in a wonderful garden in Bridge of Allan which we designed and built for our clients. The garden has been complete for a while apart from said trees as we were waiting on them arriving from Italy. And wow, what a difference they made when they went in. Here is why we think you should consider them in your garden and a few little known facts including trees with knees!
The tall, pencil-like form of the cupressus sempervirens make them a wonderful addition to gardens. They provide a wonderful vertical accent to a garden as well as being a lovely nod to lazy days in Tuscany. They are an evergreen, coniferous tree so they will provide year round interest and gorgeous structure even in the heart of winter. Plant them in a sunny part of the garden and they are incredibly easy to look after. Keep them well watered for the first season in their new home, give them a good mulch in Spring and they will be pretty low maintenance thereafter.
Did you know:
So if you are looking to add a bit of height and “wow” factor to your garden, cypress trees are worth consideration.
Thanks for reading,
All at Vialii
It may officially be Autumn but the weather (mostly) is still good enough to get outdoors and have a picnic. This blog is as tightly packed as our picnic basket with loads of great stuff including reviews of some innovative picnic products and a cool game you can play for free at your perfect picnic…
We headed off to the Children’s Wood (1) in Glasgow at the weekend to meet my BFF Euan for a picnic. If you haven’t already been there it is well worth a visit – it is a magical place, filled with trees, veg beds, mud kitchens, tree houses, swings and all sorts of fun, natural things to play with. The perfect spot for playing and picnics! Two of my favourite things.
We were armed with the Woodland Trust’s “Tree Party” picnic pack which is filled with fun ideas for picnics. Our favourite part was doing the Scavenger hunt:
It also inspired us to make our very own noughts & crosses game. We found the perfect tree stump as a board, some twigs to make the grid and different coloured stones to use as markers. It was great fun!
All this playing left us really hungry so it was time to raid the picnic and try out some new products which we had been sent. First were some wrappers from eco snack wrap. We had two sizes of sandwich wraps – a smaller size perfect for Tilda and me and a large one perfect for, yup you guessed it, Daddy! We also had a pouch which we popped some pancakes into. They are so much better than using sandwich bags or foil/cling film. Much better for the environment and they look so cute too. They come in a wide range of designs and prices start at £6.25. We definitely recommend them!
Daddy also tried out the Sistema Chill it to Go container which is an innovative tub for taking salads on the go. Basically, your salad goes in the main section, there is a neat cool box which fits neatly on the top and has a little hole where a pot for your salad dressing fits perfectly. There is even cutlery hiding in the top! Daddy’s salad stayed perfectly chilled. No excuse for soggy, warm salads any more! The Sistema range is available in a wide range of supermarkets and shops from around £5.49.
So get out there and make the most of the late summer sunshine and have a perfect picnic.
Hugs & kisses,
(1) Developers are wanting to build houses in this wonderful green space in Glasgow which would be a catastrophic loss to the many people of Glasgow who use the space (and visitors who come there to visit) and get to enjoy and learn about nature in its true setting. Please visit their website to learn more about this great cause and how you can help ensure it is there for future generations.
Prices correct at time of publishing.
I was recently sent a lovely flower pressing kit by my buddies at BigJigs to review. As an expert flower grower I had plenty of choice of pretty flowers to pick in the garden and see how they looked once they pressed. Read on to see what I thought of the flower press and what you can make from your pressed flowers…
The kit from BigJigs is made of a lovely wood with some pretty flowers and bugs painted on the front of it. It comes with some cardboard pieces inside to help you do your flower pressing, just add some parchment paper in between the cardboard and the flowers.
First you need to cut some flowers. You may need to ask a grown up to help you with bit, partly because they may not want you cutting off their prized roses but also because scissors and secateurs can be dangerous if you are not an expert like me!
Once you have chosen a selection of flowers, lay them out on your cardboard pieces ready to be pressed.
Next you need to tighten the screws really tightly and leave them to flatten – I left them overnight.
The next morning I had some really pretty, really flat flowers to see!
I decided I would like to make them into a bookmark so I chose a piece of card and then glued my flowers on to them.
Other ideas include making cards, decorate the front of a notebook, make pretty gift tags or just make a lovely picture.
It was a lovely thing to do during the summer holidays and a great way to preserve your pretty flowers. You can of course just use a large, heavy book to do your flower pressing but the kit is really handy, can be used again and again and is not expensive.
The flower pressing kit is available from BigJigs for £5.49.*
*Price correct at time of publication
Jupiter Artland, squirrelled away in West Lothian, is aptly named as it is truly out of this world. From the moment you arrive, the attention to detail of every single element of the garden is quite breathtaking. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by our good friend and talented photographer, Julie Howden from Julie Howden Photography. Using the wonderful bartering system, she paid for her garden design by taking a few “snaps”. We definitely got the good end of that deal…
There is a mixture of permanent and visiting exhibitions at Jupiter Artland. It was 2011 when we last visited and there had been a lot of changes since then, both in the gardens and for us. This time we had our girls with us, Lulu (4) and Tilda (1) so we saw the gardens through different eyes and it did not let us down. There was plenty to do whilst we were waiting on Julie to join us – we mooched around the courtyard, looking at the visiting exhibitions (we loved Hayley Tompkins colourful roof and we had our heartbeats recorded for the Christian Boltanski installation), drank coffee and ate cake and the kids had a lovely time doing some drawings in the art hut.
You enter the sculpture garden into a beautiful woodland, which was dappled with sunlight, luckily for us. You are immediately met with amazing artwork such as “A Forest” by Jim Lambie and the unnerving “Suck” by Anish Kapoor.
We all loved Firmament by Antony Gormley, both for the sculpture as well as the wonderful views beyond.
The weeping girls were popular with everyone. Whilst the adults felt there was a sadness to them, the girls decided that the sculptures were actually just playing hide and seek. Which then sparked a wonderful game of hide and seek, the perfect place to play it!
Our next discovery were some artworks by Ian Hamilton Findlay. The girls had a dance in the Temple of Apollo:
Then Lulu got some inspiration from the XTH Muse:
In between all these wonderful works of art, there is the most beautiful of woodlands, great for foraging for raspberries and perfect for taking some photos:
We have been admirers of Charles Jencks’ work for a long time so the “Cells of Life” landforms were a highlight for us as well as the girls. We spent a lot of time winding our way up and down them all, as well as just relaxing at the bottom.
On the wander back to the courtyard area there are animals to see, the amazing “Love Bomb” orchid to wow over as well as the new installation by Alec Finlay, “A Variety of Cultures”. We can’t wait to climb the ladders into the pruned canopies in a few years time!
Back at the courtyard it was time for some food (it was fabulous!) and a browse around the shop. It’s a shame picnics are not allowed in the grounds as it would make it a much more child-friendly and appeal to many more families.
We had a wonderful day out with Julie and her family. We highly recommend a day out to Jupiter Artland. We also thoroughly recommend the wonderful talents of Julie so please get in touch with her to discuss wedding photography, family portraits, corporate work and much much more.
Thanks for reading,
All at Vialii
We’ve recently been sent a copy of “Raised Bed Revolution”, a new book by Tara Nolan all about one of our favourite garden features – the raised beds. We have designed and built a variety of raised beds over the years, using different materials and using different designs and shapes, so we were immediately keen to see what this book had to offer.
The book is immediately appealing, a lovely quality of hard back with a ridged cover. The full title is “Raised Bed Revolution. Build It, Fill It, Plant It. Garden Anywhere” – well that pretty much sums up raised beds. They are a wonderful option for many gardens providing an easily accessible space for those who would maybe struggle to garden at ground level; they can provide an alternative growing medium when the existing soil is poor (or maybe there is none there at all!); they can be attractive features in their own right, often adding height, colour and interest into a garden. So, we are a fan of the raised bed, but were we a fan of the book?
The author has a similar passion to us about raised beds, hence she is starting the #RaisedBedRevolution and encouraging readers to share photographs of their own raised beds on social media using this hashtag.
The author talks about the rise in interest in edible gardening in the US which we very much see here in the UK too. Lots of our clients, even those with few gardening skills, are keen to have even just one raised bed so they can experiment with growing their own, especially if they have a young family. There is lots of advice in this book on what to grow in your raised beds and tips on how to grow them well.
Included in “Raised Bed Revolution” are lots of examples of different types of raised beds. Here are some of our favourites but the book is packed full of many many more:
This raised bed which has been tiled and filled with flowers rather than being used for veg:
We love upcycling and this is a cheap and easy way to create a raised bed out of old bricks:
Making tiers with your raised beds is a great way of adding height and interest:
Dry-stone walls are a passion of ours at Vialii and we just love this one, it might have to be included in a design sometime:
There is also tips on ways to maximise space with raised beds such as installing an archway for your beans to scramble up:
And we think our girls would love making these colourful signs to brighten up our veg patch:
The book provides lots of helpful advice on a wide variety of topics including tips on protecting crops, choosing the size and material, soil, location and much more.
There is a large section showing you how to make your own raised beds and there are lots of different designs to choose from. There are also other associated products which it shows you how to make such as an obelisk and cold frames. Some of our favourite designs that you can learn how to make include:
The upcycled raised bed, using off-cuts of wood:
A raised bed with built in benches:
And our absolute favourite – the upcycled suitcase planter with gas pipe legs:
We also loved that in the sections where it shows you how to make a range of raised beds, there are plenty of photographs of women with power tools #girlpower
We have given this book a Vialii rating of:
4 out of 5 stars, pretty good indeed. The only reason it just missed out on top marks is that we would have liked to have seen a few more inspirational raised beds. A couple that we have designed and built for clients include:
We used traditional timbers for these raised beds but used them vertically allowing us to create these lovely curving shapes and make the garden feel less rectangular:
These raised beds are rendered and painted bright pink. The colour can easily be changed allowing a dramatic change to the feel of the garden at low cost. The raised beds allow for planting around the seating area which includes the lovely fragrant lavender:
We wondered how you could dedicate a whole book to the humbled raised bed but Tara has certainly shown us how. Here’s to the #RaisedBedRevolution!
Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan is published by Cool Springs Press (£20).
All at Vialii
Hey y’all. I am always on the look-out for new ideas for things to do outside in the garden. You may have read my recent blog which had 19 Great Ideas for Summer Fun In The Garden. Well, now I have even more ideas to share with you thanks to a great new book called “The Children’s Garden” by Matthew Appleby.
There are a whopping 52 projects packed into this book and they are done in a very engaging way. There are LOTS of lovely colour photos as well as plenty of tips and facts within each section. The book is split into the different seasons so that there are always plenty of ideas to choose from whatever time of year it may be. Everything is done on a really low budget and most projects use things which you already have lying about the house. Here are a few of my favourites:
Potato stamping is an old favourite and perfect for this time of year as we harvest our home grown tatties. There are always a few potatoes which aren’t quite up to my high standards so what better than to use them to do some potato stamping!
There are lots of water fun ideas in this chapter. One that I loved doing was really simple. Mummy gave me a bowl filled with soapy suds and I set about washing all my dolly’s clothes. My clothes ended up drying on the washing line too but it was great fun!
I have been sent a flower press to try out (I’ll blog all about that soon!) so combining that with this book was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I loved picking lots of pretty flowers then seeing how different they looked once pressed. I then made a pretty bookmark using them.
This was a great project and all we needed was an old water bottle, a couple of pencils and some bird seed. My bird feeder looks great hanging in the garden.
And here are some of the ones which I am desperate to try which I haven’t yet…
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Children’s Garden” and would definitely recommend it for all children.
I give it a Lulu rating of:
Available on hardback, RRP 14.99 *
Hugs & kisses,
*Price correct at time of publication
The summer holidays are stretching hazily out far in front of us. There’s no school (nursery) for weeks and weeks. There will be late nights and long lies. Playing with friends. Days out. Picnics. Now, I don’t want to be hearing any murmurs of “Muuuuuuuuum, I’m bored”. The garden is your oyster and I have loads of cool things for you to do outdoors this summer….
With no school to get up for the next morning you have the perfect excuse to stay up late and look at stars on a clear night. You could maybe persuade an adult to camp in the garden with you one night too…
This is a great game you can ask a grown up to make so that you and your friends can play at being detectives in the garden. They just need to take photos of some plants and features in the garden and print them on some paper so you can see if you can find them. See if you can remember the plant names too.
Try some open air theatre… Drag the dressing up box outside and put on a show. Who knows, next summer you could be putting on a Fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival!
I’m not scared! Well I’m definitely not scared of the cute bears we look for in our bear hunt anyway! Ask a grown up to hide a selection of your toy bears all around the garden so that you and your friends can hunt for them. Watch out for the thick oozy mud!
Make a den from a clothes line, pegs and sheet and set up your own camp site. Make sure you set strict rules as to who can enter your den of course!
You don’t need to have a lawn like a fairway to enjoy some golf at home. Tilda and I love this crazy golf set for hours of fun in the garden! (£24.99*)
So there’s absolutely no excuse to be bored now these school holidays. Now, get outside and build a den…
I had a lovely weekend playing at farm parks with my friends. I had two favourite parts – one was horse-riding for the first time with my friend Georgia; the other was strawberry picking with my BFF Euan. Here’s a little story about it along with some strawberry facts, an awesome tip from my clever Mummy to make your strawbs’ last longer and a strawberry craft idea for the summer holidays…
We visited the wonderful Briarlands Farm on Saturday which is one of my favourite places to hang out. There is always plenty to do there from the bouncy pillows to go-karting, petting the animals to going on tractor rides (and we did ALL of that!) At this time of year Briarlands is extra special as you can pick your own strawberries too. So, Euan, Tilda and I went off to the polytunnels to get picking. All of the strawberries at Briarlands are raised up which makes them easy for us to pick. Tilda and I picked a whole punnet each (and may have popped one or two in our mouths along the way, just to make sure they tasted OK, oh and yes they did! But ssshhh, don’t tell anyone!)
So, I thought that seeing as strawberries are in season, that I would share some amazing strawb’ facts with you. Did you know that…
And one last fact from my super clever mummy. If you are buying LOTS of strawberries like we did at Briarlands, which might take (even strawberry lovers like me and Tilda) a few days to eat, here’s how to make them last longer. Mix 4 cups of water with 1/2 cup of any type of vinegar. Sit the strawberries in the mixture for 2-3 minutes, give them a swirl round then rinse off with some water. Leave them to air dry. Use the vinegar mixture to clean out your punnets so there are no spores left in there. Your strawberries will last longer (if you don’t eat them all first!) and don’t worry, they definitely don’t taste of vinegar.
And one way to make your strawberries last forever is with a lovely craft project for the summer holidays. You just need some pebbles and some paint and you can make your very own strawberry patch!
Happy strawberry picking everyone!
As school holidays beckon, it’s time to say thank you to our wonderful teachers for all their help and care over the last year. But are you fed up with the same old gifts for teachers? Are you feeling crafty and want something special and personal to give. Well, here is my step by step guide to making a chalkboard planter which combines crafts and plants, my favourite things!
I am going to show you how to make a chalkboard planter where you can write your own special message…
1. Paint the top rim of your plant pot white (I gave it a couple of coats)
2. Paint the bottom section with blackboard paint (allow 2-3 coats)
3. Once dry, draw on your measuring tape around the top using your black marker pen
4. Add your message in chalk. I wrote “Thanks for helping me grow” on one side and “Lulu x” on the other but you could draw/write whatever you want.
5. Plant your plant, being careful not to smudge your artwork.
And there you have it, a wonderful, unique gift for your lovely teacher.
A BIG thank you to my clever Auntie Nicola Simm who inspired me to make this gift.
A HUGE thank you to Mrs Sneddon for being my wonderful teacher this year!
Hugs & kisses,
This week is National Insect Week so there is NO better time to get outdoors and go on a bug hunt. Not sure where to start? Well, read on to find out how to go bug hunting and some great kit to use…
Bugs can be found pretty much anywhere. Have a look in your own garden and you will find all sorts of things from butterflies to beetles, lacewings to ladybirds, slaters to snails. Head off to your local woods to see if you can find something different lurking deep inside. Or I LOVE to visit Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre which is great for bug hunting and pond dipping.
Well, remember to be quiet and gentle when you are bug hunting so you don’t scare any bugs. Also, be careful where you are going so you don’t get stung by any plants or bugs. Under stones and old logs are great hiding places, look under leaves of plants and in their flowerheads and have a dig in some soil.
Consider making a home for some of the bugs you find. Bug hotels are great fun to make with lots of materials you will probably have lying about the garden.
You can do a lot of bug hunting using old spoons and containers from your kitchen (remember to ask your parents before you start digging in the soil with their best silverware!)
My favourite items to go bug hunting with are:
Happy bug hunting everyone!
Hugs & kisses,
*Price correct at time of publication
We share some brilliant tips on how to keep children entertained outdoors throughout the summer holidays.
Planters are a great way to add colour and panache to any garden, however big or small. They can also help to deal with all sorts of issues including soil quality, pests, access. But a planter need not be as simple as just a run-of-the-mill pot that you see at the garden centre. From floating planters to upside down pots and even planters that send messages to your smart phone, we have some of the latest, coolest ways to garden…
We SO want one of these. LYFE is a zero-gravity growing system allowing you to cultivate your favourite plants in mid-air. Yup, mid air! They are designed in Sweden and use magnetic levitation to literally hover in mid-air. They are currently raising funds through Kickstarter…
We are currently trialling this revolutionary growing system which allows you to grow fruit, veg and flowers in a limited space using 90% less water than traditional growing methods. It is very stylish too and will look great on a patio, deck or balcony.
This is a stylish new interconnecting system which you can plant up for culinary or decorative purposes. Create a wonderful vertical garden in your kitchen with year round access to fresh herbs. Maybe have a flower wall in your living room. Or add it to your fence to create a green wall outside. The Plug & Plant even has a sensor which will send a message to your smartphone to tell you when it needs watered! Impressive!
Are you bored with your plants going traditionally in pots on the patio? The Sky Planter could be the answer to your dreams. It is a unique pot which grows the plant upside down allowing you to save space and conserve water as well as creating an amazing talk point in your home.
If you have some boring railings which need brightening up then consider the Greenbo Planter. It can fit all shapes of railings up to 10cm wide and is self mounting. It is also non drip and recycles the water too. Plus it comes in gorgeous bright colours!
Hopefully you are feeling inspired to do a bit of gardening and brighten up your own homes.
Thanks for reading
All at Vialii
Back in February, we introduced you to the Foody, a revolutionary new way to allow you to plant a wide range of fruit and veg in the tiniest of spaces. In February it was only warm enough to build it and get used to how it worked and make plans for what we would plant in it one sunny day. Well, that sunny day has finally arrived so here is how the Foody looks planted up and what we think of it so far…
As we explained in our previous blog, the Foody is a vertical growing system which only needs a fraction of the water and space of traditional growing methods. You can choose different numbers of tiers depending on how tall you want to go. We are trialling the Foody 5, the daddy of the Foody world! So, what did we do?…
Well, we had already built the Foody when it arrived back in February so we were raring to go. We just needed to add our growing medium (compost, coir, whatever you prefer) and decide on what plants/seeds we were going to grow.
As we have the Foody 5, we had a whopping 39 spaces to fill! That’s a lot of different types of fruit and veg. We have gone for a yummy selection of things which we love to eat including:
We have all of these things growing in traditional methods around the garden too so we can compare how well the Foody works to them.
The Foody looks really stylish and makes a real statement in the garden. It is also well made and looks like it will last well. It was great fun planting up the Foody as it’s such an unusual way to garden. To be able to fit all of this fruit and veg into such a tiny corner of our garden is amazing and we think it would be a wonderful solution for those with little space or who want to try “grow your own” without giving up too much garden space. The whole Foody spins easily so you can turn it around and make sure all areas get good sunlight as well as making it easy to water.
We are also very interested to see if it means our courgettes can escape being ravaged by slugs and snails or if they will make the journey up high! As our garden is a little windy and as we have the super-tall Foody 5, Daddy has had to build a collar for the Foody so that it doesn’t fall over in the wind. It would be good if the taller Foodies came with something to help stabilise them. Or if you live in a windy area then just choose one of the two shorter Foodies which will solve this issue.
We will keep you posted as the season goes on but we are certainly loving our Foody adventure so far. For more information on the Foody visit LIFE.
We all want the perfect lawn in our gardens. A lovely, flat, weed-free, green space for playing and lounging on. But it isn’t very easy to achieve with all the weeds flying about and our wet weather and heavy soils. But, to help you get closer to that dream, I have collated my top tips for a lovely lawn this summer..
You can add a moss killer to your lawn but you don’t need to. Just use your muscles and a good garden rake to get the moss out of your lawn. I used my Twigz rake which was perfect for the job (£8.99*)
You can put the moss into your compost bin. My Twigz wheelbarrow is incredibly sturdy and perfect for this job (£49.99*)
Lawn weeds can be a real pain. You can buy weedkiller to put on the lawn or you can use old fashioned muscle and dig up the offenders! Regular weeding is key so they don’t take over and leave no space for the grass to grow.
If you have a heavy soil and a compacted lawn it makes it hard for the grass to grow well and thatch starts to build up. You can buy special tools to aerate your lawn or you can just use a garden fork to create the holes.
You can add sand if you have clay soil or just a lawn improver to your lawn which will go into the holes you have made and improve the soil making the grass grow better. Use a brush like the Twigz garden broom (£8.99*) to spread the lawn improver around. You can add some grass seed to bare areas while you do this and some fertiliser too to give your grass a wee helping hand.
It’s always tempting to cut your grass very short to make it nice and neat but it’s not good for your lawn. Raise the level of your lawnmower and just give it a gentle trim or it will look bare and weeds will thrive instead of the grass. Little and often is the secret. How cute is this Flying Bee Lawnmower from Bigjigs? I love using it on my lawn and Tilda loves the bee which flies off into the air. (£32.99*)
Grass-ias! If all that seems like a bit too much hard work and you would rather just lie back and enjoy your garden while others did the work for you then contact us to arrange a quote for us to do your lawn treatments and grass cutting for you!
*Prices correct at time of publication