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