It’s tempting to not bother doing a review of 2020 – do we really want to look back on this year??? Yet, despite what an awful year it has been for everyone, there has been a lot of positives when it comes to the outdoors. We have all spent more time in our gardens than ever before and appreciated our outdoor space. So let’s focus on the postives in our Vialii Review of 2020…
With panic buying at the supermarket combined with many of us on furlough and having more time to spare, 2020 became the year to dabble in a bit of fruit and veg growing. Our veg patch has never been so well tended, weeding was done regularly, we had a strict feeding regime in place and with beautiful Spring weather everything flourished! Our highlight was our broccoli which we hadn’t grown before but was a resounding success!
With spending so much time outdoors, fire pits became very popular so we could stay outdoors longer and socialise with friends who weren’t allowed indoors. We celebrated the trend in upcycling by making ours out of an old washing machine drum!
This year, a garden focal point was commonly a tent! With cub camps cancelled, virtual camps became the new trend. It provided much fun as well as learning important life skills. Thanks to the amazing leaders who kept the spirit of Scouting alive throughout the year regardless of what was thrown at them.
If you were lucky enough to be able to get garden paint, then you will have joined us in painting anything that stood still long enough! From fences to gates sheds to play houses, we painted til we had no paint left!
We had planned to upgrade our garden archways for several years but this year provided us with the time to tackle the project. To create the new look, we removed one arch and changed the shape, colour and cladding of the two remaining arches. What do you think? We love the new look!
With us spending more time in our gardens, many of our clients were keen to add landscape lighting to their gardens. Some chose coloured lights, some went for warm whites, some had a mix. Whatever your choice, it’s a great way to bring your garden to life in evening and to lengthen time spent outdoors.
With face to face design consultations crashing to a halt, we turned to technology to keep our meetings flowing. Whilst less personal and a site visit is still required to do a survey, it has become a useful first point of contact and an efficient way of getting an initial brief from our clients. We have all had to learn skills (who had heard of Zoom before 2020??) but our clients, young and old have been brilliantly adaptable, so we thank you all!
It has been the hardest year any of us could possibly have imagined but we head into 2021 with hope in our step and knowing that whatever happens, we can rely on our outdoor spaces to keep us happy and healthy.
All the best for 2021
All at Vialii
With the craziness of 2020, we all deserve something lovely this Christmas. And with us all appreciating our gardens even more than ever this year, why not treat your loved ones to something extra special for the outdoors this Christmas. Here’s our Vialii Guide to Christmas Gardening Gifts 2020…
There’s nothing quite like fairy lights to instantly make your garden feel magical as the sun sets. It’s not always easy to find a handy outdoor socket to plug them into so these solar lights are easy to install and provide enough energy to give beautiful lighting into the evening. These carnival lights are available from Lights4Fun and are £29.99.
These beautiful chairs are made purely from wood and rope and scream Scandi design. They can fold away for easy winter storage. Available from Rowen & Wren, £158.
We recently blogged about our favourite firepits and this is one of our favourites! You would be happy to get this in your (oversized) Christmas stocking this year! Available from Calido for £1548.
This would be a beautiful romantic gift for a loved one – an intertwining rings sculpture. These would make a lovely focal point in the garden. Available from Rusty Rooster Metal Art, £118.
These beautiful zinc planters would be perfect for some herbs near the back door. Available from Primrose for £39.99 for the set.
Give the wildlife in your garden a Christmas present this year with this handsome insect habitat. Available from Oakham Gifts from £23.99.
This is a beautiful gift for the kids (and your feathered friends). The kit contains a paint your own bird house, bird feeder, seeds and a mini scoop. Available from BoxWild for £30.
Still struggling for ideas? If you live locally to us, treat your loved ones to Christmas gardening vouchers. You choose the value and they can choose what they want to spend it on – from grass cutting to plants; a garden design to a new water feature, it’s up to them how they spend it.
Whatever you give (and receive) we wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas.
All at Vialii
For other Christmas gift inspiration check out our previous blogs:
2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018; 2018 kids; 2019
Prices correct at time of publication
We have always been a big fan of fire-pits. They are much more environmentally friendly than patio heaters and they are multi purpose – use them for BBQs, toasting marshmallows, lighting your sparklers and of course to keep cosy! And in current climates, with indoor socialising not allowed for many, being able to pop on the firepit and welcome friends around (remember to follow government guidelines!) for a socially distanced but cosy chat make it a must-have! So, we have collated our favourite outdoor fires so you can create your own garden transFIREmation!
This is the ultimate in firepits! Integrated into a bar table, your friends won’t want to go back to the pub again! It uses propane gas, a green fuel and is available from Primrose, this isn’t a budget option but it would certainly add the WOW factor to your garden!
You won’t go wrong with a simple fire bowl. They come in lots of sizes and materials. We love this one from All Things Brighton Beautiful (great name!) which comes in a heavy gauge raw steel which will age to a natural rusty finish.
This is so much more than just a fire pit. The Chesneys Heat & Grill can cook pizzas, smoke, be a wok or grill! It is also a beautiful looking outdoor stove. Available from Calido (who are lovely!) this one is an investment piece but worth it!
If you want to save the planet and save some pennies then you can’t beat an old washing machine drum. This is what we have for our own fire pit (well until I can negotiate an upgrade to a Chesneys!) and it has served us amazingly well through Lockdown. You just need to find someone local who can weld on some metal legs for you and off you go. It works a treat and looks cool too!
£0 (if you can find a helpful blacksmith like we did!)
So, stay safe and stay cosy this winter with a fire-pit to suit your garden style and budget.
All at Vialii
Prices correct at time of publication.
We did a big harvest of raspberries at the weekend, knowing the end is nigh for these beauties. They have served us well with lashings of fresh berries for over 2 months now but with the frosts nearing, there won’t be more home grown raspberries for much longer this year. So all the troops were rallied and a glut of raspberries were harvested. Said troops did a valiant effort of scoffing them but with plenty left over it seemed inevitable that a batch of raspberry jam would be the order of the day. Queue the need for a no pectin raspberry jam recipe…
With no jam making sugar in our local store, we decided to try out this no pectin raspberry jam recipe. And it worked a treat. Raspberries have a high amount of naturally produced pectin and by adding in some lemon juice you are increasing the pectin levels, allowing it to set. If you are finding your jam isn’t setting, keeping cooking it for 2 more minutes at a time, doing the chilled saucer test each time. A little added lemon juice will help too.
As you are not using pectin you don’t need quite as much sugar (bonus!) Normally you would have the same weight of fruit to sugar. We had 500g of raspberries and used 400g of sugar. We used the juice of one lemon.
If you want to learn more about making jams and try some amazing recipes we recommend the Jam Maker’s Garden, read all about it in or blog.
We headed North recently for a weekend away to celebrate 10 years of marriage. We had planned to visit Dundee back in May but Covid-19 put paid to those plans. So it was rescheduled and we packed our bag and headed North for a visit to a revamped Designer Dundee!
On arrival we immediately hit the streets around our hotel as we had heard that street art had hit Dundee in a big way. We weren’t disappointed with painted pavements, wall art and shop windows all getting lots of lovely from talented Dundonians…
As you would expect there are nods to the Beano, Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie throughout the City. We bumped into Oor Wullie in The McManus Museum and we were glad to see he was wearing a mask and staying safe!
Gardens are always a big draw for us so we headed to Slessor Gardens in the heart of the city to see what it would behold and we weren’t disappointed. Initially it looks like a large grassy space (where events are held in non-Covid times) but look closer to find amazing garden rooms with themes such as literature, medicine, sensory or parts of the world. Each has a space to relax and these were being well used by locals and visitors. You could also visit a website to get a plant list used in each garden room created. Nice designer touches Dundee!
No designer Dundee visit could be complete without a visit to the V&A. It is just as stunning from the outside with its amazing architecture. We love the petals where you are encouraged to create your own chalky designs.
One of the reasons we headed to Dundee was to visit the Mary Quant exhibition. We are a big fan of her fashion and it was wonderful to see so many of her designs under one roof. We highly recommend a visit and to the general museum at the V&A too. An amazing addition to Designer Dundee!
So if you haven’t visited for a while, go see all that Dundee has on offer. You won’t be disappointed.
We celebrated 10 years of marriage this week and decided to treat ourself to a day off work – but not a day off gardens as we love them so much! We made a much overdue visit to Cowden Japanese Garden, just outside Dollar. It was a true pleasure to explore, here’s why…
There are four essential elements used in Japanese garden design: rocks, water, plants, and ornaments and Cowden put them all to perfect use. As you enter you are immediately welcomed with a beautiful ridge and a peek through to the wonder of the gardens beyond:
There are gorgeous Japanese lanterns, sculptures and a plethora of huge boulders dotted around the garden. And always views of the perfect pond in the middle:
Whilst the renovation has only been undertaken in recent years, there has been a Japanese Garden at Cowden for over a 100 years, the amazing creation by Ella Christie. Mature trees work with the newer planting and the beautiful landscape beyond is borrowed to create a lovely, relaxing space:
As the recently planted shrubs and trees grow, this garden will evolve and become an even more special space. Autumn is a stunning time of year to visit as the leaves glow in the sunshine:
The Zen Garden is a perfect dry landscape garden. Rocks, moss and shrubs are carefully placed alongside the “ripples” of the gravel circles:
Tea House inspired structures add to the ambience. A new ceremonial lake-side Tea House is being constructed which will host events, education and tell Ella Christie’s story:
The zig-zag bridge is a clever feature of the garden:
There is also a Woodland Walk which is packed full of fun things for children to do such as making leaf boats and solving puzzles.
We highly recommend a day out at Cowden Japanese Garden, it is a hidden gem.
We have lots of lovely beetroot growing in our garden and are always looking for new and interesting things to do with it. We came across this tasty recipe for Beetroot Chickpea & Feta Salad on Food so decided to give it a whirl. It is so quick and easy to make and the bonus was that we could use beetroot, onion and apple from our garden. Wonder where we can get a feta plant!!
Combine beetroot, apple, onion, feta cheese, chickpeas and parsely in a big bowl.
In a dressing shaker mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar.
Pour over veggies and combine. Allow flavours to blend for 20 minutes.
So easy and really delicious! Enjoy!
All at Vialii
Our clients in Stirling have a sloping garden which wasn’t practical for their young family so they got in touch with us asking for some help to make the garden much more usable for them. They wanted a sunny seating area, new levels that were easy to move around and flat areas for children to play on. There was also the matter of some poor drainage to tackle too – queue Vialii for a terraced garden makeover!
We designed the garden using beautiful sandstone to create a morning patio at the back door linking to a path along the back of the house. A path takes you down to the main dining patio in a sunny corner of the garden.
We used vertical sleepers to create a retaining wall which allows for two new flat grassy levels.
A gravel ditch at the bottom of the garden creates a space for the water to run down to.
The bottom fence was replaced with a new double slatted fence providing privacy for the family.
For more sloping garden inspirations check out these garden makeovers:
A Sloping Garden Makeover
A Sloping Family Garden
A Terraced Garden
A Contemporary Terraced Garden
If you have a garden which isn’t working for you, please get in touch for a free design consultation.
Thanks for reading.
All at Vialii
Back at the beginning of Lockdown, like many of you, we started down the road of sowing seeds. Now, a few months on, we are seeing the fruits (and veg!) of our labour. As well as our usual fare, Lulu decided to give broccoli a bash this year. Here’s Lulu’s guide to how to grow broccoli…
First up, get something to sow your seeds into. We used a seed tray with cover to help the seeds grow quicker but you can choose anything you have (butter tub, drinks bottle, yoghurt pot etc) as long as it has drainage holes.
Keep your seedlings in a bright area, not in direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but not too wet or your seeds will rot. If the seedlings start to lean towards the light keep turning the tray to make them stand upright (or find a brighter spot where they will grow upright).
Once your seedlings have grown a bit bigger they will need to be potted on to their own pots. Be really careful with those fragile roots and stems. Continue to give them water and light so they can go stronger.
As your seedlings grow in their own pots they will be ready to be “hardened off”. This is getting them used to being outdoors after having been cosy indoors for so long. Take them outside during the day and take them inside at night. If you have one, you will then be able to keep them in a cold frame outdoors, closing it at night to keep them safe from any frosts.
Before you plant your precious broccoli seedlings outside you need to make sure that you have a healthy plant with a good set of leaves and strong roots; make sure it has been suitably hardened off; make sure all risk of frost has passed; that you have a suitable place to plant it.
Knowing what’s where in your garden is always important. You can of course just use an old lolly stick or a plant marker. With lots of time on our hands during lockdown we made beautiful pebble markers. If you want to know how to make your own click here.
It’s time to be brave! If you have a strong plant that is used to being outside and the risk of frost has passed (normally May in Scotland) you can make the leap to planting your brocolli in your veg patch. Brassicas really need to be covered though to protect them from pigeons and the cabbage white butterfly (its caterpillars will decimate your crop!) We made a frame which was covered in netting but you could simply net over the top of them to keep them protected.
Keep an eye on your crop as they grow. We didn’t feed ours as we had plenty of nutrients in our soil but you may need to add a feed. Keep them well watered (Mother Nature did a good job of watering ours!) You will see the florets growing up from the centre of the plant. When they get to a good size cut off a floret and enjoy!
Enjoy growing and eating your own broccoli – good luck!
On our recent staycation to the South-West of Scotland we couldn’t resist a garden visit. We decided to head to a garden we last visited around 8 years ago – Glenwhan Gardens just outside Stranraer. It is one of our favourites so it was a joy to head back there…
One of the great things about Glenwhan Gardens is the abundance of beautiful garden art throughout. From buddhas and wild boar to large pots and a towering pinnacle. Every corner has something nestling and a joy to find and our girls loved spotting the wild boar sculptures as we explored.
A beautiful garden should have plenty of places to stop and enjoy the surroundings and with a garden like Glenwhan the beautiful views are not only within the garden but beyond to the Mull of Galloway and the Isle of Man. There are seats at every turn from swing seats to beautiful benches. Even the simple benches made of some hewn timbers provide the perfect spot to rest.
As you would expect, the garden is brimming with horticultural delights. Nestled in the Gulf Stream, Glenwhan can take advantage of its warmer climes and enjoy a wider range of planting. Hydrangeas, hebes and crocosmia were amongst the stars on our trip. Visit in Spring to enjoy the delights of the many rhododendrons and azaleas.
Water is used to great effect at Glenwhan Gardens, the most obvious being the two lochs, complete with boathouse, boat, fish and aquatic plants. There are many ajoining rivers and rills with delightful bridges providing easy access around the gardens.
The gardens are teeming with wildlife and not just the boar and eagles in the sculptures. We spotted lots of newts on the walkways around the pond, there is fish in the pond, guinea fowl running around the lawn and red squirrels in the woods.
We love the plethora of pathways that link the gardens so you can explore for hours and you wouldn’t cover all the paths. The girls loved exploring making the garden perfect for all ages.
The gardens are dog-friendly (they must be kept on lead) making it a great option for dog-lovers.
The gardens have a lovely tea room serving home-made food.
The plant shop is stacked full of beautiful, healthy plants (so lovely to see when so many places don’t look after their plants well.) Be careful to select plants which will work in your climate – we couldn’t resist a couple of plants for our own garden!)
The gardens are great value at only £13 for a family – a great day out, we highly recommend a visit to Glenwhan Gardens.
Bug hotels are a wonderful additions to any garden. They can be made with lots of things you can find in your garden or on a walk round the woods. Not only are they a lot of fun to make, they provide a safe habitat for lots of beneficial insects to shelter in. You could attract all sorts of guests from ladybirds to lacewings, beetles to bees. Here’s how to make a bug hotel…
1. Find an old wooden box you don’t need anymore or make one using some old off-cuts of wood. This is your structure which you will fill with lots of lovely things. It can be whatever size or shape you wish.
2. Get some wood and drill different sized holes to attract bees.
3. Fill a tin can with some cut up pieces of bamboo cane.
4. Stack some broken pieces of terracotta pot or slates inside your box
5. Stuff pine cones, straw and moss into the spaces.
And there you have it, a 5 star hotel, suitable for the most glamorous of bug guests! Pop it into a quiet corner of the garden and you will soon be fully booked!
For more tips on building bug hotels visit our previous blog on bug hotels:
Make Your Own Bug Hotel
Thanks for reading
All at Vialii
With your veggie patches full of promise, the last thing you need is for pesky birds to steal your treasures! A fun way to keep those pests at bay is to make a scarecrow – a great focal point for the productive garden and a new member of the family!
1. Create your structure with a central post and a cross bar for arms and preferably one for the hips too!
2. Attach the clothes and seal off the legs/arms with string or cable ties so stuffing wont fall out.
3.Stuff the legs, body and arms (we used moss for ours). You can add some straw to the arms and legs for effect.
4. Put your scarecrow in place and add some old boots.
5. Make a head – we used an old bulk bag we get deliveries in but you could use an old ball, make a papier mache head, an old pair of tights, a plastic bag – whatever you have lying about! Add a face – we just drew ours on with a sharpie)
6.Add the head to your scarecrow and give him/her a name. Ours is called Bob!
Lulu, Tilda and Bob!
Have fun making your own scarecrows!
Like many of us, we have been finding lots of fun new projects to try with the kids as part of their home schooling. Ones which combine learning and nature are always popular at Vialii Towers so this project where you can make your own leaf art was a big hit with us all. Want to try this one at home too? Well, here’s how to make your own beautiful, unique piece of art…
1. Choose a leaf. It can be from your garden or one you find while out for a walk. We chose one from our viburnum davidii as they have quite sturdy leaves, easy to draw around.
2. Carefully place your leaf where you want to start. Think about where your leaves will go so you can fit your flower shape in. Top tip – start with North, then South, then East then West (or 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock etc if you want to slip a bit of time lesson in there!)
3. Keep drawing around your leaves until you have made your flower shape.
4. Add in any detailing you wish to add.
5. Let your imagination run riot with your colouring.
6. Ta da, you have created your own leaf art!
Hope you enjoy making your own unique leaf art at home.
As we ease our way gently out of lockdown, we will ease our way out of our weekly updates on our own garden going forward. We’ll keep you posted through our blog and social media pages of progress in our garden and things we love and catch our eye. But hopefully as things ease we will be able to bring you more from other gardens as we slowly (very slowly remember!) edge back towards normality (if anyone can remember what that is!)
Despite the horrific times we have lived through recently, there will always be the good memories: of long lazy days in our gardens; of teaching our children how to grow plants from seeds; of seeing them learning to love trying new vegetables to eat and of spending quality family time together. In our latest blog, we share some of the jobs we tackled this week, and of our trusty mini helpers getting stuck in to help as we start “gardening out of lockdown”…
Planting out broccoli
At the start of lockdown, Lulu planted a selection of seeds, including broccoli. She has potted them on, nurtured them and made a stone marker for them. Michael knocked up a cage for them this week to protect them from the cabbage butterfly. And we finally got them planted in the ground. We can’t wait to harvest them in a month or two.
As the storms had past and a week of sunshine was forecast, it was time for our beans to be planted into our raised beds. We had already made our cane teepee for them to climb up so it was just a case of popping them into the soil between the potatoes. They are already curling their way up the canes and we can’t wait to see the flowers and eat the beans!
One of our favourite things about lockdown is seeing the girls’ new found love for eating salad. Tilda munches spinach leaves like Popeye, and Lulu is loving a mix of rocket, spinach and radish. Job done!
We were kindly donated a courgette plant from a friend. We potted it into a nice big pot with plenty of space to grow. Our top tip, is to plant a plastic bottle (cut down) or a plant pot in the soil beside your courgettes. Use this to water your courgettes so that the roots get the water without the leaves getting wet, reducing the chance of getting mildew on the leaves.
The annual “who can grow the largest sunflower” competition is well underway at Vialii Towers and this week we potted them into bigger pots to help encourage growth. We will wait until they are larger before we risk planting them in our soil where the slugs and snails love to munch on them! Will Lulu win for a third year running???
We have a beautiful big cherry tree in our front garden which gives stunning blossom in Spring and adds height and maturity to the front garden. But at this time of year there are lots of fallen cherries which we constantly have to sweep up. It’s important to keep on top of these simple sweeping up jobs in order to keep your paths clear and stop drains from getting clogs.
Tilda was out with her secateurs this week, keeping on top of deadheading. Irises, tulips, primulas all benefit from being deadheaded, to encourage growth and to tidy up your borders.
We love Japanese anemones. Their stature and flowers add much needed structure and colour to the late summer garden. However, they can be brutes so be prepared to keep an eye on them spreading. They will disguise themselves amidst your other herbaceous and bulbs so keep a close eye and pull them out before they get too big and take over.
Amidst all the gardening, we managed a weekend of camping! The whole family (even the dog!) camped outside, listening to the squawks of the nearby baby owls! Enjoy your garden, whatever you decide to do in it!
After the popularity of our recent Rhubarb & Lemon Cake recipe, we thought we would share another favourite rhubarb recipe of ours. Friands are bite sized delights – small enough that they are guilt free (unless you eat 3 or of them at a time like us!!) So, if you are wondering what else you can do with your rhubarb, here is our Rhubarb Friands recipe…
Blackberries make a delicious alternative to rhubarb later in the season. Hope you enjoy this rhubarb friands recipe.
Week 9 has been a week of extreme weathers, with scorching hot sunshine and paddling pools to battening down the hatches in the storms. We did manage to fit in some gardening, here is what we have been doing in Gardening During Lockdown – Week 9.
Our bean seedlings are a good size and have been nicely hardened off. We could have had them in the ground already but with a storm forecast we decided to hold off a few days. We did get our canes in place in readiness with some string to wind themselves around. We are planting them alongside our potatoes as they are great companion plants and allow us to fit more into our home allotment.
Whilst the Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled this year, we have been enjoying the old footage on BBC and seeing designers’ gardens. It’s the time of year to do the “Chelsea Chop” which means cutting back some of your herbaceous plants to avoid them growing too big and flopping as well as controlling the flowering period. We do it to our sedum and centaurea and it makes a big difference.
If you have box balls (buxus sempervirens) or topiary plants in your garden, give them a trim to keep them in shape, adding structure to your garden. We have numerous box balls and cloud topiary and they are a lovely partnership to softer herbaceous planting and bulbs.
With the high winds forecast we took some time to huddle our pots together to give them some more protection. It saved them from blowing over in the wind and hopefully some fruit will still appear on our various plants in coming months…
It’s getting to the exciting time that some veg can start to be harvested. First things to be picked include radishes, salad leaves, rocket and baby spinach. All organic and fresh from the garden. Perfect!
The veg patch always has weeds popping up especially rogue potatoes from previous years. Don’t be tempted to leave those in and see how they grow. They will be susceptible to diseases and will just take up valuable space where your lovely new veg should be growing. Wheech them out as you see them popping up. If you are rotating your crops it will be easy to spot as they will be growing amidst different seedlings.
With the tulips now faded, the alliums are the stars of our garden at the moment. The graceful purple pom poms nod all around the garden, providing repetition and height. When their colour fades, keep the seed heads to provide interest in the garden. Take a moment (or ten) to enjoy the loveliness of your own garden.
Other jobs to do:
The beauty of lockdown is that we get to spend a lot more time in our gardens! Ours has never looked so good (if you don’t look at the grass!) with every weekend allowing us to potter away. Nothing feels like a chore either as weeding is done quickly and not allowed to build up. From pottering in the veg patch to adding new edging we have had another busy week – here’s what we have tackled in “Gardening During Lockdown – Week 8″…
As seedlings sprout up and fill out we have been doing more thinning – this week the beetroot got our full attention. Gently pull out smaller seedlings leaving space for your bigger seedlings to grow nice and strong.
Keep on top of your deadheading. We’re always sad to see our tulips going over but at least we can enjoy our alliums which are now bursting open across our garden. Snip away the dead flowers but keep the foliage so that the energy goes back into the bulbs for next year.
Keep on top of those tatties – it’s important to keep earthing them up as the shoots push up through the soil. This will stop your tubers turning green and inedible as well as protecting them from frost and encouraging more growth.
Edging to borders and lawn is both practical and pretty. It stops grass growing into your borders, makes grass cutting easier with no edging to be done and generally gives your garden a smarter finish. We had already edged most of our lawn but with our new archway in place we created a larger border around it which we have now edged.
We spent time this week potting on some of our seedlings. Tomatoes have been potted into large pots and popped in place in the greenhouse. We moved beans into larger pots this week. Probably in the next week or so we will plant them into the veg patch but we wanted to make sure the risk of frost had passed before we took the final leap to planting them outdoors.
It’s important to feed fruit and veg that you have growing in containers so they get all the nutrients they need. We are giving our strawberries a weekly tomato feed. We also gave our blueberries an ericaceous feed this week – this should be done in early Spring and late Spring.
Other jobs to tackle just now:
As always, enjoy your gardens and stay safe
We discovered this recipe several years ago and has been a firm favourite ever since. At this time of year we have plenty rhubarb in the garden and are always looking for interesting things to do with it. By popular demand here is the Rhubarb and Lemon Cake recipe – enjoy!
For the Lemon Glaze:
Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees.
Butter a 10-cup bundt pan or a 22cm spring-form tin. (See note 3)
To make the cake, sift the flour, the baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the lemon oil.
Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. The batter will be very thick.
Toss the rhubarb with the 2 tablespoons of flour and fold half into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining rhubarb on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan and cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until the centre springs back when lightly touched. Cool the cake in its pan on the wire rack for 30 minutes before inverting and removing the pan.
To make the lemon glaze, whisk the icing sugar, lemon juice and butter together. The mixture should be thick. If it’s not, whisk in another tablespoon or two of the sugar. Spread the glaze over the cake as soon as you remove it from the pan.
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as us.
For more lovely rhubarb recipes try:
Rhubarb Friands Recipe
Rhubarb Chutney Recipe
All at Vialii
The weeks keep on ticking past. We are so lovely to have a garden to help pass the time, to relax and eat in and to just enjoy nature. The weather continues to be kind allowing us plenty opportunity to both work and relax in the garden. And with a birthday to celebrate in the garden during this past week there has been LOTS of eating and relaxing! Here’s what we have been doing in “Gardening During Lockdown – Week 7″…
The seeds we planted a few weeks ago in our veg beds are starting to shoot up and now is the time to start thinning the seedlings. This will allow the veg you are keeping more space to grow and to be healthy. You can try transplanting your seedlings into another row for twice the harvest. Or plant another row of seeds now for successional planting, giving you salad throughout the summer.
Our potatoes are starting to pop up through the soil so it’s important to “earth them up”. This basically means covering them up with more soil which will stop your potatoes from turning green and becoming inedible, protect the leaves from frost damage and encourage bigger crops.
The warm weather along with some spells of rain have meant the weeds are growing as fast as all the other plants. So make sure you head out to do a bit of weeding each week and you will easily keep on top of it.
It’s important to keep on top of deadheading your flowers as they start to go over. This week we have been busy cutting back the dead flowers on daffodils, camellias and primulas. You will encourage more growth and keep your garden looking lovely.
We have had a couple of very old troughs lying about so we got round to planting them at the weekend. We managed to salvage some alpines, strawberries and herbs to fill them. When planting alpines remember they like poor quality of soil so add plenty grit to the compost and then add a fine layer to the surface to finish.
A water fight is a must-do job on sunny days! The watering of the plants quickly got side-tracked into a full on water fight. The hose won! (Excuse the state of the lawn – first job post lockdown is replace it!)
Jill joined the many people celebrating their birthday in lockdown and actually said it was the best one ever. What’s there to not like about spending a gloriously warm day in the garden with your family, eating and drinking lots of lovely things. Think this might be the new tradition!
Other things to do:
Enjoy your gardens and stay safe.
Another week and lots more sunshine (and thankfully for the gardens a wee bit rain!) Everything is sprouting at quite a rate so there are plenty of jobs to keep us busy in the garden. Here’s what has been happening this week at Vialii Towers in Gardening During Lockdown – Week 6…
All this sunshine along with some rain showers will get both your seeds and weeds growing fast! So make sure you keep on top of your weeding and watch out for your seedlings popping up. You will need to start thinning out your seedlings soon to make space for your veg to grow properly.
Hostas and other fleshy leaves are favourites for slugs and snails so make sure you give them some protection. There are lots of ways to do this from eggs shells and horse hair pellets to copper tape and nematodes. For more tips read our blog all about slugs and snails.
Tomato feed is not just for tomatoes. Lots of your favourite fruit, veg and plants will benefit from being fed some tomato feed. As soon as your strawberries start to flower, give them a weekly feed and you will get some lovely fruit as a thank you.
Now is the perfect time to take a moment and enjoy your Spring bulbs. Our tulips looks beautiful just now and our alliums are almost set to bloom. It is our most favourite time of year to spend in our garden – lucky huh?!
Keep your bird feeders topped up to maximise your feathered visitors to your garden. We added some niger seeds to our garden this week in the hope of attracting some finches to the garden. Be sure to add a variety of seeds and fatballs to get a lovely mix of visitors to your garden. They may even help you tackle those slugs and snails!
Now is a great time to fill gaps in your rockeries, walls and borders. You may be able to split existing plants to make them go further and fill gaps. Neighbours may be happy to donate or swap some plants. Or you may be lucky enough to get some new plants delivered. Happy planting!
Keep an eye on your roses to make sure they are not being infested with greenfly. If they do appear, try not to reach for chemical treatments straight away. You can rub them off with your thumb or make up a soapy solution and spray your plants regularly to keep them at bay. Much better for the environment.
We spent a busy morning potting on our seedlings as they grow stronger and need more space and nutrients. Be careful not to damage the stem or roots when you are potting on and keep them well watered.
We love the pom pom flowers on primula denticulata (the drumstick primula) but as they go over remember to deadhead the flowers in order to keep them looking lovely and encourage more growth.
The amazing weather has certainly made lockdown a lot more bearable. We have even needed some shade from the sun! We have added this lovely yellow parasol to our outdoor dining are to make it look even more colourful! It will add some sunshine even on grey days!
We are BIG fans of garden focal points and have lots in our garden, from rusty globes to golden chickens! We love this red lantern which we have added to a shepherds crook to add interest to our border. It looks beautiful glinting in the sun and we can add a tealight when it gets dark for a beautiful glow.
We always have a LOT of ideas and often several projects on the go. Getting round to finishing them can sometimes be a challenge. So we are delighted to get our archway finished this week. It has been an idea for over 10 years and we are very happy with the finished article!
Our sheds (like everyone’s) are crammed full of all sorts. So additional shelving is always welcome! Michael fitted this shelf in less than half an hour this week and it makes life a lot easier getting bikes in and out! Stop procrastinating, go fit yours!
So that’s what we have been up to this week! What about you?