As we near the end of 2018, as is the tradition, we have cast our minds back over the year that’s been and we have pulled together our own wee highlights of the gardening world (and some other stuff!) and created the Vialii Review of 2018…
We loved the vitrified paving we used in a garden we designed and built in Dunblane recently. Being vitrified means it won’t stain if anything is spilt on it and algae won’t grow on it. So basically it will continue to look just as beautiful for years to come!
We were delighted to attend the official opening of the Shieldhill Butterfly Project Garden for the Community this year having worked with the community on designing and bringing it to life over recent years. From being a sloped, unusable garden it’s great to see the garden now accessible and widely used.
There were so many fabulous designs this year and it’s impossible to pick a favourite. We did love this decked area we designed in Bridge of Allan using Millboard composite decking and really chunky ropes.
An old favourite, the award this year goes to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. It is only open to the public one day each year but it’s soooo worth making the effort to go. Get it in the diary for 2019!
This year we have given the award to a plant which should be in everyone’s garden – hydrangea paniculata. “Limelight” is a particular favourite of ours and will go with most planting schemes. If you don’t have one already, find space and plant one in 2019.
We’ve opted for one of our own upcycling projects for this award. It’s always really rewarding taking something unwanted and turning it into a stunning addition to the garden. We took a run down old garden bench, fixed a spar and gave it a good sanding and then painted it bright colours to make it a practical but colourful focal point in our own front garden.
We can’t review 2018 without giving a special mention to our brand new member of Team Vialii, our cockapoo puppy Noodle! We’re looking forward to lots more adventures with her in 2019!
We hope your 2018 was full of great memories too. Here’s to a great 2019!
All at Vialii
Every year it seems to get harder and harder to get gifts for the kids which are actually useful and something they will like for more than five minutes and not awful for the environment. Well, worry ye not, we have pulled together some ideas we think you will all love in our Vialii Guide to Kids Gardening Gifts for Christmas 2018…
Yup, you heard us! The dino lover in your life will be blown away by this creative gift. It comes with a pop up scene and you can grow your own “grass”. Available from Not on the High Street.
This lovely little greenhouse will be fun to build for your little ones then you can plant the various seeds that come with it. It is reusable so environmentally a good gift this Christmas. Available from the Ethical Superstore.
This fab wee kit comes flat packed, Ikea style! Make your insect home and then find the perfect corner of your garden to locate it. Available from Garden Divas.
We LOVE Peter Rabbit here at Vialii Towers so these Peter Rabbit socks are perfect for us! Available in Peter Rabbit or Lily Bobtail designs from eBay and other retailers.
If you are serious gardeners like us then you will need a proper set of tools. This set from Spotty Green Frog will help you have your garden flourishing in no time!
How gorgeous is this little glass terrarium. It comes with all you need to grow your very own wildflower meadow. Beautiful! Available from Prezzy Box.
This stunning case would make any wannabe botanist proud. It contains a magnifying glass, notebook, 3 storage boxes for collecting specimens and a wooden flower press. The perfect way for your little ones to explore the natural world. Available from various suppliers including Trouva.
Hope that helps round off your Christmas shopping. You a festive period full of fun and frivolities! See you in 2019!
Lulu & Tilda xx
If you’re like us and you have still not finished your Christmas shopping and are struggling for ideas, then this is the list for you! We have carefully selected our favourite garden related gifts which your nearest and dearest would love to receive. So without further ado, here is the Vialii Guide to Christmas Gardening Gifts 2018…
This is the perfect gift for those who have everything. Imagine a late night movie screening on a warm sunny evening in the garden? Or an atmospheric Halloween film, jeepers! Check out Amazon for a range of sizes and prices!
This BBQ in a bag is perfect for days out with the family or for festival goers. It comes with a 7 in 1 utensil too so you’re sorted! Available from various suppliers including Blacks.
Make your own videos of plants unfurling, wildlife visiting or us transforming your garden from the bare to the beautiful with this garden watch cam.
We just love this kit where you can make your own geometric concrete planters. These industrial style planters would be perfect for cacti or succulents. Available from Not on the High Street.
If your loved one is a fan of taking photos in their garden, then this Olloclip macro lens for their iPhone is the perfect gift for them. Various lenses suitable for a variety of phones available on Amazon.
This would be perfect for the cocktail lover in your life. They can grow their own herbs to add the perfect twist to their drinks. Just remember to gift them the other ingredients to go with it too! Available from various retailers including Amazon.
Our Vialii gardening vouchers are a wonderful gift for those with little time or who are unsure what to do with their garden. They can use them for grass cutting, hedge trimming, a new lovely pot or a garden design. You choose the value, we do the hard work! Contact us for more details.
Whatever you decide upon, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2019.
All at Vialii
Normally we are adorning your garden with beautiful planting, patios, pergolas and water features. But at this time of year our minds turn to how we can tastefully make your house stand out in the festive crowd. Here’s our guide to the best outdoor Christmas decorations…
You will no doubt be in and out your door several times a day and if you’re anything like us there will be couriers galore coming backwards and forwards so make sure you add a wreath and make it look really pretty. Your local florist will be able to supply one but even better, make one yourself. Look out for local classes or follow an online tutorial. A trip to your local woods should give you most of what you need.
Our top tip when it comes to external Christmas lights is to think about the sort of lights which are showing from inside the house and also any outside lights you already have on the home. It’s best to complement those colours so don’t choose cool white external lights if the ones inside your house are warm tones. We love the icicle lights which you can run along the front of the house and if you have a large shrub or a nice tree in your garden make sure you make it twinkle with a few fairy lights too. We also love these sparkle balls you can hang from your trees, available from Argos.
It can be difficult to not give in to the temptation of some of the more “fun” Christmas lights. There are lots to choose from and if an inflatable Santa isn’t for you why not opt for an LED reindeer from eBay to brighten up your garden this Christmas. Position them amongst your shrubs for optimum effect.
If you want to add some sparkle to your balcony or window sills, these lovely LED jam jars from Not on the High Street are the perfect touch…
Whatever you opt for, enjoy spending time at home and in your garden this Christmas.
A community garden which we designed for the Butterfly Project in Shieldhill was featured in the Fakirk Herald:
We recently went on holiday to York and stayed in a beautiful townhouse just outside the City Walls. The garden was very small but it showed how a small garden can still be cleverly designed to create a lush green space where you can relax. Here are a few tips on how to design a small courtyard garden.
As with all gardens, you will need somewhere to relax and enjoy the space around you. With a small garden it’s extra important that this space is well designed so that it’s not too small and you can’t fit furniture on it properly but equally not too big and taking over the whole space and not allowing room for anything else.
With limited horizontal space, make sure you use the vertical space in whatever way you can. Add climbers, a green wall, tall planting, hanging baskets, trellis. Just max out the space as much as you can.
Clever use of materials will make the garden feel harmonious and not too busy, allowing you to relax and enjoy the garden.
Mirrors are a great way to make a small garden look bigger and reflect light around a potentially darker space.
In a small space it can be easy to think you should just add a few small plants but it’s actually the opposite. Add large plants and lots of plants. The garden will immediately feel lovely and lush. Little tricks such as removing foliage from lower down the plant can create a strong look and help in a smaller space.
A great example of how even tiny gardens can be a wonderful oasis in the city.
With all the leaves changing colour and falling from the trees, we were inspired to make an autumn wreath for my bedroom door. It’s a great craft project for children of all ages (and mummies and daddies!) and it sure adds a lovely splash of colour to your home. Here’s what you need and how to make it. It’s super easy!
You will need:
1. Choose a pretty autumn leaf which will be your template. We chose a lovely maple leaf as it’s such a pretty shape.
2. Draw around the leaf on your coloured paper – lots of times!
3. Cut out your leaves. Be careful with the sharp scissors!
4. Draw the veins of the leaves on your cut outs so they look realistic!
5. Cut out your ring to the size you want – we used a dinner plate to make the size we wanted. A grown up might need to help with this as thick card can be tricky to cut.
6. Glue your paper leaves onto your ring so that they overlap each other.
7. Now it’s ready you just need to hang your wreath on your door!
You could use real leaves if you wished although they wouldn’t last as long.
Back in September 2014, when Tilda was still tucked up safely in my tummy, Michael and I met with Elaine from the Butterfly Project to discuss how we could help them transform the local church’s steeply sloping garden into a space the community could use. Elaine with the support of her Brownies wanted to turn this unused space into somewhere accessible, wildlife friendly and somewhere for the whole community to use and enjoy. We helped them create the Shieldhill Butterfly Project Garden for the Community.
The garden was quite steep so tackling the elevation differences was the first of our tricky tasks. To do this we created different areas and we used different materials to make the garden as aesthetically appealing as possible.
The top area was transformed into a large decked area using a composite material keeping it very low maintenance. This is the perfect space to have functions, entertaining, have outdoor classes etc.
Some wide steps make it easy to access the lower patio made from sandstone. In-built seating around the edges makes it a welcoming space to relax. A fabulous mosaic of the Girl Guide logo takes centre stage in the patio.
To the side is a lovely, flat lawn area – a far cry from the steep grassy slope there before.
A winding, resin bound path leads you around the garden and passed the mixed planting.
Towards the gate there are painted hopscotch and draughts games for visitors to enjoy (we had our own fiercely fought game of draughts with the girls when we were there!)
Beautiful stone raised beds provides more planting and at a height for everyone to enjoy.
And beautiful metal gates with bespoke messages finish off the garden perfectly.
The local brownies have loved adding their own touches to the garden with their beautiful artwork.
And the local wildlife has not been forgotten – the planting has been designed to attract a wide array of wildlife into the garden, the poshest of bug hotels has been created (definitely 5 star!) and there are even hedgehog homes under the decking.
And, as with all community projects, it does take a long time to agree the design, get quotes, choose a contractor, get funding etc. It’s all credit to Elaine and the team for persevering and making it happen. Tilda was delighted to see the completed garden almost 4 years since she first visited!
Truly a garden for the whole community. Well done to Elaine and all the team for bringing the Shieldhill Butterfly Project Garden for the Community to fruition!
Jill & all at Vialii
Hey everyone. I went for a fun ramble along the Darn Walk during the school holidays. The Darn Walk if you have never been is a pretty walk along the River Allan which links Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. I decided to collect from nature along the way and make a nature art picture when I got home.
One of the many cool things to see along the way on the Darn Walk is a cave which is said to have inspired the writer Robert Louis Stevenson for Ben Gunn’s cave in Treasure Island. There is a fab pirate bench beside it too!
We loved playing at the river, collecting treasure, speaking to the horses and watching the golfers on our amble up to Dunblane! I took lots of pics along the way too!
And here’s the horse I made with what I found on the walk. Why don’t you go on a walk, see what you can find and make a picture up with your own treasure!
We love spending our days in gardens and feel fortunate to be able to do so. We know so many people have to walk/cycle along busy roads to get to work or sit in cars or in busy trains. One of our maintenance clients sent us these amazing photos of his commute to work in Qingdao, China. We would love it if more money was spent in making our outdoors spaces more green – better for the environment and better for our health and well being.
How beautiful is this patterned path through planting? Much more appealing than a dull tarmac pavement at the side of a busy road.
Beautiful planting and pathways make it difficult to believe its in the heart of a city of 5 million people! More pathways separate from the roadside would make a big difference to our health and wellbeing.
A rose bed is carefully tended to keep it looking beautiful. It will certainly help with the pollution and lovely to have nice wide paths where several people can walk side by side away from the roadside.
This is our favourite! How cool is this blue path, it’s like a giant ocean wave rushing through the garden! Why do pavements need to be flat and grey?
We would love to see your horticultural commute to work, please share your photos.
Many thanks to Andy Fraser for letting us use these photos.
My recent blog “Make Your Own Bird Feeder” was all about helping birds. This one is all about helping the bugs which are an important part in keeping our gardens healthy. As we landscape our gardens with beautiful seating areas, carefully manicured lawns and garden sculptures there are less and less habitats for wildlife. We recently made a really cool bug hotel at school with help from M&D. Here are my tips on how to make your own bug hotel…
1. Choose a quiet corner of your garden where the bugs won’t be disturbed too much and away from your veg beds
2. Carefully stack the pallets on top of each other with the help of a grown up
3. Now is the fun part, fill your bug hotel, adding the larger items such as bricks and logs first (it’s good to drill holes in the logs first too)
4. Roll up the cardboard and slot it into some gaps.
5. Fill your tin cans with various items such as cut down bamboo canes, collections of plant stems or old leaves and moss then add them to your bug hotel with the open end facing out
6. Stack slates up and slide them in
7. Fill all the gaps with leaves, moss, pine cones and sticks.
Once your bug hotel is finished it will be a beautiful feature in your garden as well as a 5 star hotel for your creepy crawly friends to check into. Keep filling up any gaps as the garden materials start to decay down.
And remember to give your hotel a name. Our favourite is the Grand Bug-and-Pest Hotel but we also love Bug-ingham Palace and Edin-bug Castle! What will you call yours?
It’s not just us that loves bug hotels, they have even featured at the Chelsea Flower Show too!
It was the annual opening of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation last weekend so it was the perfect place to spend Jill’s birthday. As it’s only open for this one day a year you have to make sure you’re on the ball and grasp the opportunity to see what is arguably the most impressive garden in Scotland. Here are some of our highlights from this year’s visit…
There are gorgeous bridges at every turn in the garden, many are painted blood red and look wonderful as you look across the gardens.
The cascade is like no waterfall you have ever seen before!
Packed with fabulous sculptures and lovely planting, this relatively small part of the garden alone is worth a visit!
Everywhere you go in the Garden of Cosmic Speculation you will see beautiful detailing. This lovely stone wall with circular inset detailing caught our eye.
The plants and sculptures cast amazing shadows all around the garden. This beautiful old tree was creating lovely shadows on the moss underneath.
We just love the effect Charles Jencks has created using some metal and artificial grass.
Spring has arrived really late this year but it meant we could enjoy the rhododendrons and magnolias in their full glory in the aptly named Flower Paradise Garden.
We love trying to create intrigue in our gardens when we can and this has been done really well at Cosmic by creating a hole in a hedge where you can peek through and see the next part of the garden. C’mon let’s go explore!
Cleverly positioned mirrors catch your eye and reflect the surrounding garden.
After we last visited the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, these painted telegraph poles inspired us to make our own back fence to our garden. Our 3 year old said “amazing” when she walked into the Time Garden.
There were a sea of bluebells cascading through the woods, truly spectacular.
Charles Jencks is famous for his landforms and there are none more impressive than the ones at Cosmic with the large Snake Mound and the cleverly designed Snail Mound.
We love this!
Our kids get dragged round lots of gardens with us but there was not a single “I’m bored” as we went around Cosmic. They had just as much fun as us!
It was glorious weather for our bank holiday visit to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, perfect for a picnic in the most stunning of surroundings. And even a cake to boot!
We highly recommend you watch out for the annual opening of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, it’s as amazing as the name suggests!
To see some of our other favourite gardens to visit click here.
We had a fun early Easter over at our BFF Euan’s house and it even snowed! We have NEVER rolled our Easter eggs in the snow before! This year we decided we would try and dye our eggs naturally which was a lot of fun and had some interesting results. In this blog we tell you what you need and how to try it home.
1. Hard boil your eggs
2. Boil your “dyes” (the spinach, beetroot, cabbage and turmeric) in separate saucepans with the water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15-30 mins.
3. The dye is ready when it is a few shades darker than you want your eggs to be. Set the dyes aside to cool.
4. Strain the dye.
5. Add the vinegar.
6. Add an egg to a small bowl then cover the egg with the dye. Make sure the egg is completely submerged. Repeat for each colour.
7. Put the eggs (still in the dye) in the fridge to set and until the desired colour is reached. Note that they will fade a bit once rinsed.
8. To achieve a stronger colour, do several soaks, drying them between each dye.
9. Once you have finished add a little oil to the eggs to give them a shiny finish.
10. Roll them down a hill!
Our favourites were the beetroot and the cabbage. The spinach didn’t work very well at all for us. Play around with different patterns. We loved our half coated ones which looked really cool.
Happy Easter everyone, hopefully it won’t be as snowy when you are rolling your Easter eggs.
Lulu & Tilda xx
We LOVE this time of year as we see all the bulbs pushing through in the garden and the weather (hopefully) starts to improve. We have BIG plans to grow lots of lovely things in our garden this year to supplement the fruit trees, rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries we already have growing. Here’s what we’re growing in 2018 in our veg garden:
We’re also growing a few flowers from seed too to add to our pretty garden:
As you know from our last blog, “Growing Potatoes” we will also be growing three different varieties of potatoes this year.
I’d love to hear what you plan to grow in your garden this year…
Lulu & Tilda xx
Thanks to DT Seeds who we purchased this year’s seeds from and for all their great plant descriptions.
It was Potato Day in my neighbouring village of Dunblane at the weekend so we popped up with M&D to have a look. It was a busy old gathering of people and we bumped into friends, colleagues and clients while we were there! So, what happens at Potato Day and what has it got to do with growing potatoes, I hear you say?…
Well, Potato Day is a gathering of people who are selling a huge range of different varieties of potatoes. From your early potatoes to salad potatoes there was a variety to suit your garden. You could buy a bulk bag of your favourite variety or just individual tubers of ones you haven’t tried before to suit your allotment size. There was also a stall selling lots of seeds and onion sets so you could get your whole GYO area sorted out for the season ahead.
We opted to go for 3 different varieties of potatoes this year. We normally only choose one as we don’t have lots of space so it was a real treat to be able to choose individual tubers and get the exact quantities we wanted. You can also look at each tuber and make sure none are soft, mouldy or shrivelled. We chose:
1st Early – Arran Pilot. A very early traditional potato, the most popular potato grown in the UK in the 1930s! A new one to us.
2nd Early – Maris Peer. A great tasting early potato. We grow this potato lots and we love it!
Salad potato – International Kidney. This one makes a very tasty salad potato with a waxy texture. Another new one for us to try.
You need to “chit” your potatoes before you can plant them in the ground. Chitting means sprouting the tuber – putting it, most eyes upright, in a light, cool but frost-free place at about 10C. Old egg cartons are a great holder for your potatoes while they are chitting. Chitting potatoes gives you a quicker and slightly larger harvest.
Once you have healthy, short, green shoots, about an inch long, they are ready to be planted in the ground. Rub off all but 3 or 4 of the healthiest shoots at the top of your potatoes.
Dig straight, shallow trenches, two to three feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway.
Your first early potatoes should be ready to dig up around June/July with the second earlies about a month later. If you choose maincrops they will be ready from August through to October.
Happy potato growing!
Lulu & Tilda xx
It’s been a busy start to 2018 for me as I turned 6 and started going to Beavers. On my very first week there we made a cool bird feeder from an old bottle which made me think I should show you how to make your own bird feeder using some things from around the house. It’s still really cold outside so our feathered friends need as much help as possible and it’s a great craft activity for half term!
1. Carefully add 2 pairs of holes in the bottle where the pencils will be pushed through. Make sure that each pair of holes are the same height. You may need a grown up to help with making the holes as it can be tricky.
2. Push your pencils/sticks through to make perches for the birds.
3. Add some small holes above each perch so that the birds can access the bird food (not too big though or the seeds will fall out)
4. Tie string round the top which you will use to hang it up
5. Fill with bird seed and put your lid back on (to keep your seed dry)
6. Now it’s ready to hang outside!
We have ours hanging in our apple tree and can see it easily from the house and watch birds coming for their tea!
Enjoy making yours.