#RaisedBedRevolution – Book Review

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.

"Raised Bed Revolution" by Tara Nolan

“Raised Bed Revolution” by Tara Nolan

About the Book

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?

We love our raised beds here in our own garden

We love our raised beds here in our own garden

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.

Types of Raised Beds

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:

A tiled raised bed

A tiled raised bed

We love upcycling and this is a cheap and easy way to create a raised bed out of old bricks:

Raised bed made from old bricks

Raised bed made from old bricks

Making tiers with your raised beds is a great way of adding height and interest:

A tiered raised bed

A tiered raised bed

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:

A dry-stane raised bed

A dry-stane raised bed

Other Projects

There is also tips on ways to maximise space with raised beds such as installing an archway for your beans to scramble up:

An archway between raised beds

An archway between raised beds

And we think our girls would love making these colourful signs to brighten up our veg patch:

Colourful veg markers

Colourful veg markers

Help & Advice

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:

Upcycled wood

Upcycled wood

A raised bed with built in benches:

Built in benches

Built in benches

And our absolute favourite – the upcycled suitcase planter with gas pipe legs:

A quirky raised bed

A quirky raised bed

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 star review

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:

Using vertical timbers allows the raised beds to be beautiful ovals

Using vertical timbers allows the raised beds to be beautiful ovals

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:

Bright pink, rendered raised beds provides planting space around the deck

Bright pink, rendered raised beds provides planting space around the deck

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).

Best wishes,

All at Vialii

“The Children’s Garden” – a book review by Lulu Burt

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.

 

 I am so excited about my new book I can't open my eyes!


I am so excited about my new book I can’t open my eyes!

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:

Fun With Potatoes

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!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Wet Work & Play

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!

 

 Doing the washing is fun - Mummy says I can always do it!


Doing the washing is fun – Mummy says I can always do it!

Flowers To Pick & Press

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.

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

Feed The Birds

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.

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

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:

Five out of five, woohoo!

Five out of five, woohoo!

 

Available on hardback, RRP 14.99 *

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

*Price correct at time of publication

19 Great Ideas for Summer Fun in the Garden

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….

Have fun in the garden this summer

Have fun in the garden this summer

Stargaze at night…

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…

Quoit a lot of fun…

Grab this game of Quoits for a summer full of fun. It’s great quality so will withstand having the whole neighbourhood over for a Quoits Championship this summer. £17.99*
Quoit a lot of fun!

Quoit a lot of fun!

Garden treasure hunt…

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.

Set up your own garden band

You can use all sorts of things from around the garden to make musical instruments – an old pot as a drum, a bamboo cane as a flute, old seedheads as shakers. Tilda loves these maracas (£5.49*) and castanets (£3.99*) too with a lovely ladybird finish to tie in with the garden theme.
Shake, rattle and roll!

Shake, rattle and roll!

Open air theatre

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!

Have a Snail Race…

You can find plenty of snails in most gardens (or we will give you plenty for free!) Chalk a race course, choose your snail and off you go!
We have plenty of snails which we can race!

We have plenty of snails which we can race!

Make a miniature garden…

Mini gardens are sooooo cute. You can have whatever theme you want. Introduce some of your toys to the garden like Lego or playdough. Just get an old shoe box or cake tin and start designing your own garden with plants, grass, maybe even a little washing line!

Find some fairy gifts…

There are fairies in all our gardens and it’s nice to leave them gifts sometimes. From beds and blankets made from furry leaves to daisy chain necklaces and petal dresses all you need is a little imagination.

Anyone for croquet…

You don’t need a perfect lawn to play this game, just put on your most pleading face (and remember to say pretty please) and persuade your big people to buy you this fab croquet set from BigJigs. (£22.99) You will have years of fun playing it.
Anyone for croquet?

Anyone for croquet?

Make magic potions…

Make the mixtures as magic as you like with all the things you can find in the garden. Fill a bucket or jar with water then add the “magic” – petals, sand, twigs, soil, worms. Don’t forget to say your magic spell to make it work…

Blow bubbles…

Whatever age you are, everyone loves bubbles. So get outside and start blowing and popping!

Flower pressing…

Pressed flowers look really pretty. You can use some big heavy books to press the flowers but we couldn’t resist this adorable flower press kit (£5.49*). Use your pressed flowers to make a card to welcome a friend home from holiday, a pretty bookmark for a special gift or just make pretty pictures. Read our blog on pressed flowers here.
Flower pressing is great fun

Flower pressing is great fun

Make a sand pit…

Get a giant tractor tyre (farms will often give these away for free when they are finished with them) and fill it with play sand to make a brilliant sand pit with comfy sides to sit on. You could even take it a step further and make a teepee over it by adding bamboo canes and an old sheet as a cover.

Play a game of skittles…

You could play this with plastic bottles or tin cans but how can you resist this super cute duck set, perfect for all the family (£13.49*).
Cute skittles are great fun

Cute skittles are great fun

Start a garden journal…

What a wonderful way to record the summer holidays. Add in what you see, some of your pressed flowers, stick in leaves, draw some bugs, write down what you are growing, do some bark rubbings… At the end of the holidays you will have some wonderful memories to look back on.

Make a garden crown…

I love the garden and crafty projects so this is the perfect combination! Take some corrugated cardboard and make a circle to fit your head. Decorate it by painting or sticking on things you find around the garden. Then collect some leaves and stick them in the holes around the top and voila, you have a crown!
Chief Lulu and her magic crown!

Chief Lulu and her magic crown!

We’re going on a bear hunt…

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

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!

Crazy about golf

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*)

You don't have to be crazy to play crazy golf. But it helps!

You don’t have to be crazy to play crazy golf. But it helps!

So there’s absolutely no excuse to be bored now these school holidays. Now, get outside and build a den…

Happy holidays!
Lulu xx
*Prices correct at time of publication

Strawberry Fields Forever

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…

I've only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

I’ve only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

Briarlands Farm

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!)

 

Euan and I had a great time strawberry picking!

Euan and I had a great time strawberry picking!

Strawberry Facts

So, I thought that seeing as strawberries are in season, that I would share some amazing strawb’ facts with you. Did you know that…

We had lots of punnets full of yummy strawberries to take home!

We had lots of punnets full of yummy strawberries to take home!

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.

Make sure your strawberries are left to dry before putting them away

Make sure your strawberries are left to dry before putting them away

Strawberry craft project

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!

Lulu x