Vialii Guide to Christmas Gardening Gifts 2017

The Christmas lights are up, Wizzard is on the radio and excitement is defintely in the area. It can mean only one thing. Christmas is coming. So in age old tradition, to help you find something a little bit different and a big bit beautiful for your loved ones, here is the Vialii Guide to Christmas Gardening Gifts 2017…

Gemstone Planter

Christmas gardening gifts

These beautiful crystals are the perfect place to nestle a succulent and create a wonderful indoor planter in your home.


Copper Concrete Plant Pot

Christmas gardening gifts

These dinky plant pots are simply beautiful. We would like a set of three please Santa!


Concrete Planter Making Kit

Christmas gardening gifts

If you know someone who would fancy their hand at making their own planter then this kit could be the perfect kit for them.


Vialii Gardening Vouchers**

Christmas Garden Gifts 2016

The perfect gift for those who have everything. Your voucher can be personalised in whatever way you would like: a value, a specific job (grass-cutting for a whole season), a garden design. Get in touch to discuss ideas.

Gin Botanical Cocktail Garden Kit

Christmas gardening gifts

If you know a gin lover why not give them this lovely gin garden cocktail kit. It contains all sorts of wonderful things from seeds to cocktail infusion bags. You can add a personalised planter and marker too for an extra special touch. Cheers!


Gin Gardening Gift Crate

Christmas gardening gifts

If you want to take your gin growing to another level, check out this kit by the Gluttonous Gardener. You’ll definitely want to spend more time in your garden!


Whisky & Bourbon Infusion Cocktail Growing Kit

Christmas gardening gifts

If your loved one is more of a whisky & bourbon kinda person then this could be the gift for them.


Terrarium Design School Experience

Christmas gardening gifts

We love terrariums and this design school experience is a wonderful treat for someone who loves to garden.


Little Metal Log Store


Christmas gardening gifts

This dinky little log store may not hold your winter’s ration of logs but it is a wonderful feature in your garden. It’s available in other sizes too if you want to splash out more.


Insect Hotel

Christmas gardening gifts

This 5 Star insect hotel would look great in the most stylish of gardens. No piles of old leaves for these trendy critters!


Personalised Favourite Spot Sign

Christmas gardening gifts

Does your loved one have a favourite corner of the garden where you will find them pottering or relaxing? Treat them to this personalised copper & oak sign to mark their spot!


Personalised Family Tree Pot

Christmas gardening gifts

This sweet terracotta pot can be personalised with up to 5 names.

Indoor Plant Subscription

Christmas gardening gifts

If your loved one likes indoor plants as much as the garden then this may be the gift for you. You get quirky plants in quirky pots, a new one each season. Cute.


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

All at Vialii

*Prices correct as of 27/11/2017

**Recipient must live in the Central Scotland area

Vialii Guide to Kids Gardening Gifts for Christmas 2017

If you’re like us, you will have been writing (and re-writing) your list for Santa for some time now. If you are looking for some more ideas or a lovely garden related gift to give to someone you love, read on for our MUST HAVE list for 2017…

Superhero Planter

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Kapow! How cool is this super hero planter. Bish bash grow!


Fairies Sign

Christmas gardening gifts for kids


If like us you have fairies living in your garden, you may want to have one of these signs to warn visitors.


Unicorn Planter

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

If unicorns are a favourite for a loved one, surprise them with this beautiful planter. Too cute!


Sow & Grow Butterfly Garden

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

This cute kit would inspire anyone to start growing plants and encourage wildlife to come and visit.


Gruffalo Garden Tool Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

We LOVE the Gruffalo in our house so how could we resist this tool set? It has 3 mini tools, mini watering can and a tool bag.


Real Adventure Den Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Who doesn’t love a den? This would be a definite hit for anyone!


Drinking Animal Mini Seed Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Ah, how brilliant is this? Not only do you get to easily see how seeds grow, you get cute little animals to grow them in.


Kids Veg Seeds

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Googly eyes are always a good addition and these seed packets made us laugh a lot! A fun stocking filler.


Some of these will definitely be going onto our wish lists!

Hope you are all on the nice list and get lovely gifts from Santa. Merry Christmas!


Lulu & Tilda

*Prices correct as of 27/11/2017

Do gardens add value to properties?

Do gardens add value to properties? We are often asked this question and the answer is a definite yes! A well planned garden can add 20% to the value of your property. Based on the average UK house price, that’s a whopping £60,000. But don’t worry, you don’t need to spend anywhere near that amount to transform your outdoor space. Here are our tips to adding value through your garden…

A contemporary garden

Keep it simple

Most people are attracted to low maintenance, simple gardens. We can help design your garden to ensure the structure is well thought through and planting provides year round interest without year round hard work!

Consider an outdoor room

More and more of us are moving our lifestyles outdoors. Whether it’s an outdoor office, yoga shack or den for the kids, having an outdoor space where we can relax whatever the weather is a great addition to your home. Consider adding electricity and insulation to make it extra usable and more appealing to buyers.

Outdoor room

Have good boundaries

People like to have privacy in their gardens and feel safe. Make sure you have good quality boundaries. A fabulous fence can be a wonderful backdrop to your planting. Or opt for a handsome hedge for a greener boundary. Add height with trees and pergolas too which will also help with privacy.

Create relaxing/entertaining spaces

Having a well designed place to relax, dine or entertain is important in gardens. Many buyers are put off by decking as it can be high maintenance so consider a lovely natural stone patio. In-built seating is particularly attractive and great for using the garden all year round.

In built seating

Mask any noise

If you live in a noisy area, add nicer noise to detract. Plants such as bamboo, water features, chimes etc will all help make your garden more relaxing.

Bin the whirly

We always recommend retractable lines to our clients. They are much easier to use and put away so you don’t have an ugly clothes dryer in the middle of your garden.

Reflect the buyer

Perhaps your house is a family home, if so make sure your garden reflects that with space for outdoor dining as well as a good sized lawn for kids to run around. If you are aiming at an older buyer, consider adding in some raised beds to allow gardening at an easier height.

Family garden

If you need more advice on re-designing your garden to suit you as well as future potential buyer get in touch to arrange a design consultation.

All at Vialii


Grow Your Own Strawberries

We just love growing our own fruit and you can pretty much find us in our raspberry patch at this time of year, catching the end of those rosy jewels! But we think we would like to grow some more strawberries for next summer. Did you know what now is the perfect time to plant them? Here is what you need to do to grow your own strawberries…

I've only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

I’ve only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

You will need:

To grow your strawberries:

Here is a wonderful visual from the people at Sainsbury’s bank which shows you what you need to do…

Sainsbury’s Bank Guide to Grow your own strawberries


By next summer you will be picking the delicious fruit from your windowsill!


Lulu & Tilda x

Deadly v Woody Nightshade

We have heard a lot of chat recently about deadly nightshade and fears that it is appearing in domestic gardens. However, in many instances it is actually a completely different plant called Woody Nightshade which is growing. It evens grows out of my school hedge! Whilst it’s not as toxic as it’s deadly namesake, its berries should still never be eaten. In fact NO berries should ever be eaten unless a responsible adult says it’s OK (or it comes in a punnet from Waitrose!) If you are worried about what is in your garden or just want to learn more, here are some images of the two plants and some interesting facts to correctly identify whether they are deadly or woody nightshade…

Atropa belladonna

Atropa belladonna


The name

They are both members of different genera – Atropa and Solanum – but of the same family, the Solanacea.

Deadly Nightshade is Atropa belladonna. Despite its deadly potential, belladonna literally means ‘beautiful lady’ coming from its use to promote pupilar dilation, a proven way to increase attractiveness apparently!

Woody Nightshade’s latin name is Solanum dulcamara. It actually belongs to the same family as the humble potato and tomato. Don’t let that fool you into eating it though!

The flowers

The flowers of Deadly Nightshade appear as a single flower while the Woody plant’s flowers grow in clusters:


Deadly v woody nightshade

Deadly v woody nightshade

The berries

The unripe berries show a clear difference: the Atropa belladonna has a single berry while the berries of the Solanum dulcamara hang in clusters. The ripe berries are even more distinctly different, in colour, shape and structure:

Deadly v woody nightshade

Deadly v woody nightshade


The effect

Deadly Nightshade: Symptoms may be slow to appear but last for several days. They include dryness in the mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, blurred vision from the dilated pupils, vomiting, excessive stimulation of the heart, drowsiness, slurred speech, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, delirium, and agitation. Coma and convulsions often precede death! Yikes! There have been differing opinions on what is required to be digested in order to cause poisoning, some saying half a berry, others saying 20+. To make it simple just never eat any! Or the root which is even more toxic!

Woody Nightshade: It contains solanine, an alkaloid glycoside. It increases bodily secretions and leads to vomiting and convulsions. The strength of its actions is said to be very dependent on the soil in which it grows with light, dry soils increasing its effects. Though the berries are very attractive the bitter taste is a disincentive for the majority of people, especially children. There have been no recorded deaths from eating the berries from this plant in recent years but it will likely give you a very sore tummy and need medical attention if consumed.


Solanum dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara

If you want to learn more about poisonous plants we hugely recommend a visit to the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens. Their Fairy Garden is awesome too! If you are still unsure which plant you have in your garden and want some advice then please get in touch.

And remember, no eating dubious berries you find!

Lulu & Tilda

Double Book Review: “Growing Perfect Vegetables” & “The Salad Garden”

This week I have had my head in the books as I have two new books to review for you! So I better crack on and tell you about them:

Square Foot Gardening: “Growing Perfect Vegetables”

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening (commonly referred to as SFG) is a planting method that was developed by American author and TV presenter Mel Bartholomew in the 1970s. It’s a simple way to create easy-to-manage gardens with raised beds that need a minimum of time spent maintaining them. This book is a very visual guide to raising and harvesting vegetables at their optimum. I loved this book as it was really easy to read and is packed full of lovely inspiring photographs. It takes you through examples of what to grow in your SFG, how to know when they are ripe and an easy to read table telling you when to sow your veg and when they will be ready to eat. There are also some tips at the back about growing other vegetables which don’t strictly work in a SFG such as perennial fruits. The SFG theory is a great way of getting into growing veg as it only takes up a small space, it’s easy to manage and, crucially, easy to see when things are ripe and ready to use. This book tells you all you need to get you started on the road to becoming your own wee allotment expert. My star rating is:


Available now in paperback, RRP £11.99

“The Salad Garden” by Joy Larkcom

Salad Garden

When “The Salad Garden” was first published in 1984, it was held in high esteem by gardeners, chefs and even professional growers. It has now been updated and released to suit the modern market. Consideration has been given to being able to garden in smaller spaces like on patios, window boxes (or a square foot garden!), new varieties of salads are included and the recipes have been given a modern twist too. It’s not just salad leaves that are covered in this book, there are peas, tomatoes, fennel, flowers, root vegetables and much more. I think this book suits a more serious garden who wants to learn a lot more about a wide range of salad. There is a lot of great information about how to grow each vegetable and recommended varieties. It’s just a little less colourful and user friendly than the SFG book but has a LOT of useful information packed into it. My star rating is:


Available now in paperback, RRP £16.99

Happy reading (and growing!)

Lulu xx

Raising Expectations…

At Vialii we design a LOT of raised beds. They are popular with clients for many reasons – they are great for older clients who can’t bend down to the ground easily; kids love growing veg in them; they can look great with in-built seating around patios; they can make it possible to grow plants where soil/drainage is problematic. Here are some of the most popular raised beds we put into our clients’ gardens…

The Horizontal Sleeper

This is the most common raised bed you will see in gardens, particularly for those wanting to grow their own vegetables. They are very practical as they make it easy to tend your veg and you can perch on the edge while you are gardening. The chunky timbers mean that they will last for years although we recommend giving them a quick stain every year to extend their life.

Our client's productive garden

Our client’s productive garden

The Vertical Sleeper

This is a simple but effective twist on the traditional horizontal sleeper raised bed. By using the timber sleepers vertically we can make the raised beds a curving shape, softening the look.

We designed & built these lovely curving raised beds

We designed & built these lovely curving raised beds

The Combination Sleeper

Another great way of creating a sleeper raised bed is to use a combination of both horizontal and vertical timbers to create a unique yet practical raised bed for your garden.

Using a combination of horizontal & vertical sleepers can be effective

Using a combination of horizontal & vertical sleepers can be effective

The Sandstone Trough

Natural sandstone is a beautiful product and our most popular choice when it comes to patios and paving. It can also be used to create stunning raised beds around your patio adding height and interest to your garden. By adding fragrant planting you will want to sit here all day!

Beautiful sandstone creates a more rustic raised bed

Beautiful sandstone creates a more rustic raised bed

The Rendered Trough

Rendering your raised creates a cleaner, more contemporary look to your garden. What we love most about this finish is how easy it is to change the look of your garden by changing the colour of your paint. A quick and easy transformation whenever you like!

Adding colour to your rendered raised bed can change the feel of your garden

Adding colour to your rendered raised bed can change the feel of your garden

Hardwood & Render

By adding a hardwood top and leaving planting pockets in a rendered raised bed you can create a wonderfully contemporary planter with practical seating for all the year round.

Stunning hardwood creates the perfect finish to these rendered raised beds

Stunning hardwood creates the perfect finish to these rendered raised beds

If you want to add some raised beds to your own garden please get in touch to arrange a free consultation.

All at Vialii

Our 9 Favourite Ways To Slay The Slug!

We love our garden but sadly slugs do too! This year we have LOADS of slugs and snails in the garden. Our latest blog gives you some tips on how to deal with them.

With a little help from your friends

One of the most effective ways to help deal with the slugs in your garden is to encourage wildlife that likes to have a munch on some slugs. Invite hedgehogs, blackbirds, toads, newts and songthrush along for a slap up meal!

Hedgehogs are a great help

Hedgehogs are a great help


Slugs are a bit like vampires and hate the smell & taste of garlic. Leave a barrier of chopped up garlic around the vegetables that slugs like to munch on. For non edible plants like hostas you can spray them with a home made garlic spray to keep them safe.

Egg Shells

This is a common one but did you know you can bake the shells in the oven for 20 minutes to make them more effective. Mix them with your garlic pieces for the ultimate protection!

Wool Pellets

We have had unreliable results with wool pellets so definitely combine them with something else like the garlic or the slugs will put up with the uncomfortable journey for a munch on your prized courgette!


This is effective when applied liberally around a pot. For plants in the ground you can use an old plastic pot with the bottom cut off, place over your plant and push well into the ground and then cover in vaseline.

Copper tape

This can be pricey if you have lots of pots but it is an effective way of keeping slugs at bay. They get an electric shock when their slimy bodies crawl over the tape.

Beer traps

Sink a pot into the ground and fill with some of your big person’s beer. Slugs will be attracted and fall into the beer trap. Empty and refill every few days. Always ask a grown up to help!

Beer trap

Slugs love a beer too!


In spring, water in these microscopic parasites into the soil. They will kill your slugs and keep the numbers down for the rest of the year.

Slug hunting

Our favourite way is to get a tub and go slug hunting with all our friends!

We never recommend using slug pellets as they can really harmful to pets, children and the environment.

Good luck!

Lulu & Tilda xx

The Jam Maker’s Garden: An Interview by Lulu Burt

I LOVE fruit. I love growing it. I love eating it. And I love cooking with it. So I was really pleased to be sent a copy of “The Jam Maker’s Garden”. I was also really lucky to be able to ask the clever author, Holly Farrell, some pretty cool questions all about her book. So read on to find out what I asked her as well as a lovely idea for a teacher’s gift…

Jam Maker's Garden

So Holly, what is your favourite fruit to grow in the garden?
Probably raspberries, though it changes as each new fruit comes into season!

Yum, I love raspberries, they are my favourite too. What would you say the easiest fruit would be for beginners to grow?
Strawberries- they’re easy to come by and easy to grow. Plus you get a lifetime’s supply of new plants from the runners off the first plants.

If you have a teeny garden, what sort of fruit would you recommend trying?
Strawberries are the smallest plants, but currants only take about a square metre of space for masses of fruit and breeders are always bringing out new, more compact plants like raspberries for pots.

Jam recipes

Yes, we have a lovely little pot packed full of strawberries in our garden which hardly takes up any space at all. Now, in Scotland we finish up for our school holidays next week (woo hoo!) I think making something home-made would be a lovely present for a teacher at the end of term, what would you recommend making?

For the end of June, strawberry jam, for July definitely raspberry. Adding a little twist like strawberry and thyme or raspberry and rose pelargonium really makes it personal. A hand designed label would be nice too!

Ooh, they sound lovely and really different. What’s your favourite recipe in your book?
I can never answer that question! Every season brings it’s own favourites, and I’m greedy!

Ha ha, I’m sometimes greedy too! What’s your top tip for making jams?
Don’t worry too much about the technicalities- follow the recipe and it’s hard to go wrong.

We hear a lot about how sugar is bad for us these days. Does that mean we shouldn’t eat jam too?
We should absolutely be careful about how much sugar we eat – half a jar on toast every day would not be good! I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician but I think with some common sense jam can be enjoyed as the delicious treat that it is.

Jam recipes

Yup, I definitely agree Holly!  Now, final question, what do you grow in your own garden?
I have a relatively small courtyard garden and everything is either edible or can be used as cut flowers. I’ve got raised beds with the usual veggies, lots of herbs, currant bushes, raspberries and strawberries and some fruit trees in large pots, amongst other things!

Thanks for that Holly. I LOVE the fact that everything in your garden can be used somehow.

The Jam Maker’s Bible by Holly Farrell is out now, RRP £17.99. It is a lovely hardback book packed with amazing photos by Jason Ingram. There are deelish recipes for every kind of fruit you can imagine as well as great tips for growing them. If you like jam then this is one for you!

Lulu x

Topiary Or Not Topiary, That Is The Question…

Topiary spans many centuries – it is prevalent in Renaissance gardens as well as formal gardens belonging to the grandest of country estates. Yet it is just as at home in simple, contemporary, urban gardens. Some people see topiary as a twee addition to a garden, akin to the garden gnome when clipped into animal shapes while others see it as a classic which suits a multitude of garden designs. So what do you think? Should topiary be a staple of garden design or left in the garden centre with the meerkats and wishing wells? Here’s what we think of topiary with some do’s and don’ts…

Levens Hall Gardens

Levens Hall Gardens


Some of our favourite gardens rely on topiary to create their look. Drummond Castle Gardens near Crieff is a very formal garden with lots of symmetry and a heavy reliance on topiary. Levens Halls Gardens in the Lake District has the world’s largest topiary collection and is a sight to be seen. We are big fans as it, when used well, can add real drama, structure, height and texture to a garden.


…choose your topiary carefully. They can be quite expensive so pick a variety and style to suit your needs.

…think about how often you are happy to prune your topiary. A ligustrum will be cheaper but will need trimming a lot more often than taxus baccata.

…think about the space you have and what shape will work best – cloud topiary is beautiful but needs more space to be shown off. A cone or spiral will take up less space.

…use topiary to frame entrances and doorways. They will make a great statement.

…use it to make a statement in your borders. They can add the wow factor.

Formal topiary

Cypress adds height to a border

…invest in some topiary shears to keep your shrub looking its best.

…include topiary in your garden if you are looking for a contemporary look. Lines of box balls is an easy to create a modern look.


…be tempted to indulge in a topiary animal unless you are creating a children’s garden or you can do it en masse a la Lotusland

…neglect your topiary. It will need watered, fed and clipped to keep looking good.

…be tempted by the cheap, fake topiary balls sold in budget stores. They are cheap for a reason.

Topiary mini

Topiary mini in the Cotswolds

So, in our opinion, topiary is a great way to create a strong statement in a garden and add structure. They are particularly effective in contemporary gardens and also work well in containers. They are a definite must for us at Vialii. Though perhaps not trained into the shape of a mini!

Thanks for reading.

All at Vialii

How To Grow Potatoes

My latest blog tells you all you need to know to grow the perfect potatoes in an easy to follow guide. It’s gotta be simple, I’m only 5 right!

Lulu growing potatoes

Lulu growing potatoes

How to grow potatoes…

  1. Buy some seed potatoes
  2. Chit your potatoes on a window sill as soon as you buy them. Chitting just means letting the wee “eyes” grow a bit longer which gives them a head start for when you pop them in the ground.
  3. Plant them in the ground about 20cm deep and about 30cm apart.
  4. “Earth up” your potatoes as soon as shoots start to appear, raking up the soil around them and covering them back up, protecting them from the sunlight. You will need to do this 2-3 times in the growing season.
  5. Feed your potatoes every week, they will grow big and strong, just like me.
  6. Early varieties will be ready in 8 weeks, main crops in the summer. Gently move soil aside to pick your potatoes, you don’t need to pick them all at once and they taste best freshly picked.


Our potato crop

Our potato crop

Top tips:

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu x

8 Best Apple Trees to Grow in Scotland

Our latest blog is short (like Tilda!) and sweet (like me!) If you don’t already have an apple tree in your garden then pop along to your nearest garden centre and make sure you have one fruiting away in your garden this summer. If, like us, you live in Scotland, you want to choose a variety perfect for our climate. Here are my favourite 8 apple trees to grow in Scotland…

Lulu eating an apple

A teeny Lulu munching a home grown apple

Egremont Russet

The Egremont Russet is a cultivar of dessert apple, of the russet type. It has a rich, nutty flavour and crisp, firm and fairly juicy flesh.


Discovery is best known because it produces some of the earliest apples in the UK. The cropping time is mid to late August and lasts for about a month into September.

Discovery apples

Discovery apples


Fiesta is a modern cultivar of domesticated apple which is often marketed as Red Pippin.

James Grieve

The multi-tasking James Grieve fulfils every apple expectation: it juices beautifully, cooks perfectly and is so refreshing to eat.

James Grieve

James Grieve


Katy is a great choice for newcomers to growing apple trees because disease resistance is high and it requires only minimal pruning. It grows well all over the UK but is especially valuable in cooler parts where it shrugs off late frosts with ease.

Laxtons Superb

‘Laxton’s Superb’ is a heavy-cropping, late-season, dessert apple with a sweet flavour and firm flesh.


Attractive, crunchy, sweet, easy to grow, and with the characteristic delicate wine- like flavour of the McIntosh family of apples (or so mummy says!)

Spartan apples

Spartan apples


Sunset is a popular Cox-style apple, recommended as one of the best alternatives to Cox’s Orange Pippin as it is much easier to grow.

So there you go, there’s no excuse not be crunching on your very own home-grown apples this autumn!

Lulu & Tilda xx

Book Review: “Thoughtful Gardener” by Jinny Blom

The title of this new gardening book perfectly encapsulates Jinny Blom – the Thoughtful Gardener. With a previous background in psychology Jinny calls on her experience when creating her own, unique outdoor spaces for clients and breathing life into her gardens. But is her new book worthy of space on your burgeoning book shelves? And would you like to win a copy?!

The Thoughtful Gardener

Perhaps rather than taking up space on your book shelves, this book could take pride of place on your coffee table? First impressions are of a beautiful, tasteful book on garden design at a higher level than some we have read.

Jinny of course is an award winning garden designer so any work she produces is worth indulging in and this book is no different. As you would expect, the photography is exemplary. There are page after page of stunning stone villas with grand gardens to match and rustic walls with romantic planting. It is wonderful to see gardens from around the world and feels like you are being whisked away as you flick through the pages.

The Thoughtful Gardener

Each chapter is introduced in a way that draws on Jinny’s psychology background and asks for you to consider elements carefully. These are tied in with a simple yet effective line drawing.

Jinny talks through the process of garden design from walking the area, drawing the garden, planning a layout, considering all the elements (from sun to earth to water) and of course plenty advice on planting.

This is a book for serious gardeners and designers. If you love gardens you will love indulging in these pages. It has quite a traditional feel to the garden with more of a focus on rustic gardens and romantic planting.

The Thoughtful Gardener

Thanks to the lovely people at Quarto we have a copy of “The Thoughtful Gardener” to give away to one of our lucky readers. To enter please enter your details below. The winning entry will be announced on Easter Monday! :

The Thoughtful Gardener is out now on hardback, RRP £35.

Thanks for reading,

All at Vialii

Book Review: “Urban Flowers” by Carolyn Dunster

In recent years there has been a lot of focus on urban gardening and creating gardens whatever space you have. From rooftop terraces to vertical gardens there are always ways to create wonderful gardens wherever you are. In our last blog, “Small Garden, Big Ideas” we shared our top tips for urban gardening. In our latest blog we review some urban flower tips from Carolyn Dunster in her new book “Urban Flowers”…

Urban Flowers by Carolyn Dunster

This book is crammed full of wonderful photography by Jason Ingram and is full of inspiration for adding flowers to your urban garden. Who knew that a plastic washing up bowl could be a gorgeous planter? And there are some lovely tips to make your drain pipe look a lot more interesting.

pretty flowers in a washing bowl

If you are looking to completely overhaul your space, Carolyn gives lots of tips on how measure your space, plan your garden and things to consider. She explains all sorts of gardening including container planting, vertical planting and showcases lots of different styles.

There are pages crammed full of different colour palettes to help you make a cohesive display through planting. She also touches on the importance of trees and why they should be a consideration in gardens.

Colour palettes in planting

To further your skills, there are sections on how to grow plants from seeds and bulbs as well as considering scented or therapeutic plants in your garden. There are even some recipes tucked at the back to take your garden flowers to a new level!

Whatever your skill level and garden knowledge there will be something useful to take from this book. It is easy to flick through and pick out bits of interest and it’s the sort of book you will return to again and again for inspiration.

Packed full of lovely images


If you are interested in gardens and dabbling a bit more then this book should be on your reading list. And as it happens, we have one to give away. Just fill out the form below and we will pick a winner on 18th April 2017. Good luck!

Urban Flowers is published by the lovely people at Frances Lincoln and is available in hardback for £20 from 6th April 2017.

All at Vialii

Archerfield Willow Walk & Fairy Garden

We were recently in East Lothian for a long weekend so popped into Archerfield Walled Garden on the recommendation of a friend. Whilst the walled garden was getting a lot of work done so there wasn’t a lot to see, we had a lovely walk round the Archerfield willow walk & fairy garden. Here are some of our highlights and why it’s worth a visit…

Tilda on a toadstool


In the beautiful grounds outside Archerfield House, there are some wonderful views to enjoy. There are even picture frames highlighting some of the best views!

Picture frames of the views


We followed the Willow Walk first and found some amazing structures on the way including this dome…

Archerfield Willow Walk & Fairy Garden


A willow yurt…

Willow yurt


A willow viewing area with benches…

Willow viewing area


And a wishing tree where you could make a wish and leave a ribbon…

Wishing tree


In the Fairy Garden we could go through the Big gate or the Little gate!

Fairy door for little people

There were toadstools which were great for sitting and balancing!…

Tilda balancing on a toadstool


And there was quiz which took you all around the fairy garden, searching for doors…

Lulu finds a fairy door

…and finding the clues…

Tilda finds a clue
We were tired out once we had done that so we went to their lovely cafe to re-fuel. We then had a play outside in the adventure playground whilst Mummy had a look round their lovely shop.

Pop along, it’s well worth a visit.

Lulu & Tilda xx


5 Reasons To Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg

Sometimes people ask “Why bother to grow your own fruit and veg? It’s more hassle. Sometimes crops fail. Why not just pop along to the supermarket and get your ready picked, washed, convenient produce?” Well, there are lots of reasons but we’ve freshly picked our top five, just for you…

Cracking courgettes

Cracking courgettes!


In the current economic climate, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. Growing your own fruit and veg is a lot cheaper than buying it fresh in the supermarket. Lots of us have our own garden or space for a few pots or there are lots of allotments available which are cheap to rent. Packets of seeds don’t cost much and if you keep your eyes peeled they are often being given away for free!


Lovely leeks!

Lovely leeks!


Eating fruit and veg is a great way of keeping healthy. And when we grow it ourselves it’s even healthier as it couldn’t be any fresher. Plus we can grow it organically and know there hasn’t been any yucky pesticides sprayed all over it. Also, gardening is a great form of exercise so there’s another tick in the healthy box!

Super salad!

Super salad!


It’s genuinely true that what we grow ourselves tastes better. The tomatoes that we grow in our own garden couldn’t survive in a supermarket as they have such fine skins and are bursting with juiciness. Fruit and veg starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s picked so the quicker you can get it into your tummies the better. Raspberries don’t even make it to the house in our garden, they are in our tummies within two seconds of being picked!

Awesome onions!

Awesome onions!


By not relying on supermarkets as much, we are reducing carbon emissions by requiring less trucks which have to transport fruit and veg many miles to get from the grower to the supermarket and then to our homes. There’s also no packaging required to get your potatoes or carrots from your veg patch to your house. And no chemicals required to grow them if you grow organically.

Perfect Potatoes!

Perfect potatoes!


We all know that being outdoors and getting dirty is a lot of fun! Doctor’s are even prescribing gardening as therapy these days. So get outdoors, dig over a section of your garden and see how much fun it is to see fruit and veg growing from teeny tiny seeds which eventually are big enough for us to eat. Amazing!

Mucky fun!

Mucky fun!

So why not choose at least one new vegetable or fruit to try growing this year and see what you think…

Lulu & Tilda xx

Small Garden, Big Ideas

When you think of gardens you often think of large spaces, winding paths, focal points, places to laze on sunny days (well, we can but dream!) but you don’t have to have a large outdoor space in the country to be able to garden. Urban gardening in limited areas is on the increase and we have some quick tips on what to do with a small garden…

Small front garden

Small front garden

Get a Designer

Naturally, we would always recommend employing a garden designer as they will have a plethora of tips and horticultural knowledge to make your space usable and flourish. You may think that just because you have a  small space you don’t need professional help but it’s quite the opposite. You could very well end up spending more money on your outdoor space by doing it yourself if you don’t use the correct plants, growing medium, support systems, design tricks etc.

Consider Your Spaces

Clients are always amazed and what we can magic up in what was previously a small piece of wasteland or an unloved corner. Look at what spaces you may have such as:

From vertical gardening to modern courtyard gardens, we can make a BIG difference to a SMALL space.

Design for a small garden

Our design for a small garden

What to Grow

What plants to choose for your city garden depends on a lot of things including aspect (what sunlight you get), soil type (if you indeed have any), what space we have to work with, the climate, structural considerations (especially if it’s a roof top) to name but a few. Some good plants to consider include:

A garden trompe l'oeil can make a garden look bigger

A garden trompe l’oeil can make a garden look bigger

What Else to Consider

As with all gardens you need to consider other areas such as:

If you want more advice on transforming your own small outdoor space into a stunning garden then please get in touch.

All at Vialii

The Perfect Outdoor Party

You may have heard recently, it was pretty big news, I had my 5th birthday! Yes, I am FIVE! To celebrate, me and a few of my besties had a woodland party. If you are looking for something pretty cool to do for your next birthday then read on to find out more about the perfect outdoor party…

Woodland party

On the hunt…

Wild in the Woods

After a LOT of deliberating, I decided on a bush-craft party run by Green Aspirations near Balfron. They are a woodland-based social enterprise with a mission to inspire outdoor learning so we are completely on the same wavelength!

Green Aspirations birthday party

Hanging about being 5!

You can choose what sort of activities you want to do at your party and there are lots to pick from such as den building, bow and arrow making and bush-craft arts. We picked a treasure hunt for our main activity which was loads of fun! We had to find lots of cool “treasures” in the woodland and what a beautiful setting it was too with babbling rivers and carpets of snowdrops everywhere!

Green Aspirations woodland party

A beautiful carpet of snowdrops

We then had to hunt for a box of wood cookies which we then decorated and made into special birthday necklaces which my friends all got to keep and take home with them.

After some yummy snack we then toasted marshmallows on the bonfire which was LOTS of fun.

Birthday treasure hunt

Finding treasure!

Thank You Gifts

And finally, to thank my friends for coming I gave each of them a cool “Grow Your Own Tiger Stripes” seedbom from Kabloom to help brighten up a gloomy corner somewhere.

Kabloom seedbom

A seedbom from Kabloom

Pop along to the website of Green Aspirations to read more about cool party ideas and workshops for everyone to enjoy. There is also the lovely cafe, shop and holistic centre at Tir na nOg to visit while you are there.

Hugs & kisses

Lulu x (aged 5!)

Make Your Own Fairy Door

All good gardens have fairies living in them. As expert gardeners, we know a thing or two about fairies too. So we thought that we would share some of our knowledge with you and show you a really easy and cheap way to make your own fairy door and make sure fairies come to live in your garden too…

Lulu & Tilda's fairy doors

Lulu & Tilda’s fairy doors

Fairies, a bit like us, come in all different shapes, sizes, colours and like lots of different things. So whatever theme, colour, accessories you choose to put on your fairy door there is sure to be a fairy out there who will LOVE it and come to live in it. But did you know there is a very special way of knowing if there is a fairy living in your garden? Well read on and I will tell you how…

Lay out your sticks

Lay out your sticks

To make our own fairy door we used:

To make:

1. Take your lollipop sticks and make a row which is the same length as one stick on its side.

Add glue

Add glue

2. Put glue on 3 more sticks and put one across the top, one across the bottom and one diagonally in between. Leave to dry.

Lay the sticks across the rows to hold them together

Lay the sticks across the rows to hold them together

3. Make hinges out of pieces of foam sheet and stick these to your gate. Do the same for a door knob. Then decorate your door in whatever style you think your fairy would like. It could be a woodland theme, sporty, glittery, rockets, whatever you like.

Decorate your fairy door

Decorate your fairy door

4. Find a special place to put your door.

Find somewhere special for your fairy door

Find somewhere special for your fairy door

We put ours at the bottom of an apple tree, beside our tree house so we could be close by. Where will you put yours?

If you don’t have a garden to put your fairy door in then don’t worry as there are also indoor fairies who would love to come and share your home.

You can also make a whole fairy garden for them to enjoy with features like ponds, decking, clothes lines for their sparkly clothes and lots more. We show you how to do that in this blog we wrote earlier.

Now, we promised to share with you the secret of how you know if a fairy is living in your fairy garden didn’t we? Well, if you put a button beside the door, once a fairy moves in that button will disappear until they move out again. Clever huh?

Love & sparkles

Rose River & Glimmer Thistle (AKA Lulu & Tilda)

Book Review: She Sheds by Erika Kotite

“She Sheds” is a magical book, crammed to the gunnels with tips and inspiration to create your very own garden retreat. They’re sheds but not as we know it! “She Sheds” immediately gets you into the spirit of creating your own outdoor space right from the introduction. Who wouldn’t want their own “refuge of comfort” filled with your most treasured possessions and space for you, and you alone? I’m in! Let’s find out more…

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

The She Shed

The “Shed Style” section gives a gentle introduction to some of the styles you may want to consider. This chapter is a little light and only touches on a small handful of syles. Not to worry though as there is plenty of inspiration to follow…

The subsequent chapters show examples of some of the “She Sheds” the author has discovered on her travels around the world. They cover a huge array of styles and purposes – from gardening to art, yoga to floristry, you can use them for pretty much anything you wish.

Our Favourites

Our favourite “She Sheds” include:

But they all have their own inimitable style and are the perfect creations by their owners, all for their own unique use.

Fabulous She Shed creations. Photography by Susan Mintun

Fabulous She Shed creations. Photography by Susan Mintun

Tips for your own she shed

There are so many quirky touches and ideas to discover in this book, you can’t help be inspired, even if you had never considered having a she shed of your own.

Some of our own top tips to consider for your own she shed include:

She Sheds

Amazing interiors. Photography by Cody Ulrich

Did we love it?

Well, yes! There are lots of “Builder’s Notes” in the book which provide great tips on how to create your “she shed”, whether you want to do it from scratch or just know the best way to protect a potting bench. There are also lots of “Owner’s Favourite Things” which gives a lovely insight into the most important elements to them.

“She Sheds” is very empowering with lots of stories of women who had no previous skills, suddenly deciding to build their own “den” and construct walls and much more. Or commission someone else to bring our dreams to life. There isn’t a lot us women can’t do! We found “She Sheds” not only an inspirational read for women, but for anyone interested in creating a haven to get away from the daily grind and create some “me time” in the perfect surroundings.

Vialii star rating:

5 star review

“She Sheds” by Erika Kotite is available in the UK from February 2017, priced £16.99 for hardback, published by Cool Springs Press.