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!
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.
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?
Can you believe we are now five weeks into lockdown? The weeks are flying past here at Vialii Towers and we haven’t tackled half the jobs we had on our list! We have fitted lots of fun things into our week though and a bit of gardening along the way. So, to help keep you inspired, here is some of what we have been doing this week in “Gardening During Lockdown – Week 5″…
We love Spring time as it is packed full of blooms, from rhodies to camellias, tulips to muscari. We have a beautiful white Camellia williamsii in our garden which is looking wonderful. The blousy blooms don’t last too long though so remove the dead flowers – this helps the shrub look better as well as focusing the plants energy on making new blooms and keeping it healthy.
We spent only about half an hour weeding our garden this week -hardly any time at all as we have been able to keep so on top of it during lockdown. Also, our generous mulching we did a few weeks ago (see Week 2 blog) is paying dividends and suppressing a lot of weeds. Little and often is the secret to keeping your garden looking amazing and to stop you getting scunnered with weeding!
Every garden has those annoying corners where debris builds up so now is the perfect time to tackle those corners. Tidy up leaves, sweep up stray stones, pick up litter, bin things that have been shoved in a corner – if you’re not using them now, you never will!
Our archway project is coming in splendidly and one side (the side we can see from the living room thankfully!) is now complete – we just need to clad the other side. This was an existing simple archway which we have widened in parts, painted in parts and clad with timbers in parts. We are very happy with how this is turning out and it has been made purely from off-cuts of timbers. #upcycling
One of the main activities in the garden this weekend was camping. Lulu and all her scouting friends camped in their gardens as part of a virtual camping weekend. This is the perfect time to dust off your tents and make some memories outside. Just remember your thick blankets as it stills gets very cold at night!
Another favourite garden activity this week has been eating in it! We have had breakfasts, lunches, dinners and suppers all outdoors. The weather has been amazing and we are so lucky to have outdoor spaces. Take a break from gardening and make sure you enjoy your gardens!
Other jobs you can be tackling in your garden:
Once lockdown is finished we can help you with all your gardening projects and maintenance so don’t stress if you are not getting all your jobs ticked off either, the most important thing is to relax and enjoy being outside. Stay home and stay safe.
Can you believe that’s been 4 weeks of lockdown? A whole month? It’s a long time in gardening and with all the sunny weather things are growing at a pace and we are being tempted into our gardens all the more. What have you been tackling? Here’s what what has been happening at Vialii Towers in Gardening During Lockdown – Week 4…
We had sown several seeds indoors during the first week of lockdown so our focus this week we turned our attention to the seeds which can be sown directly outdoors. Lulu and Tilda took over this task and armed with seeds and trowels set forth creating drills to fill with seeds. They have sown:
They also planted two types of onion sets and two varieties of seed potatoes and left space for our broccoli to be transplanted as it gets bigger and stronger. The finishing touches were the painted stones they created last week. Click here to find out how make your own plant labels.
Life is so much easier if you just weed and tidy as you go. Our rule is never walk past a weed you have spotted. Always stop and pick it out. Then you never have a jungle to tackle which takes hours and makes you dislike gardening. A quick weed, run the lawnmower over the grass or the odd prune here and there and you will easily keep on top of your gardening.
Wildlife are enjoying this lockdown period more than ever. From tiny ladybirds and hedgehogs to long-tailed tits and partridges, wildlife are venturing into our gardens more and more. Encourage this by considering your planting, leaving some wild areas in your garden, creating hedgehog houses, putting out bird food, building bug hotels – it all makes such a difference. And all those animals and insects do amazing things for our gardens and eco-systems so we’re all winners.
We have been having the MOST amazing spell of weather recently which is helping keeping us sane. So, in between all the garden jobs, sit back and enjoy your garden, your outdoor space, the lovely view, the beautiful planting, whatever is around you. There is a lot we can be grateful for so take some time to relax and enjoy it.
Other jobs to tackle this week:
I wonder what Week 5 will have in store for us – we still have lots to tackle on our to-do list. How about you?
With extra time on our hands we decided to tackle a project we have wanted to do for some time. We collected some lovely pebbles on a holiday last year which we knew would be perfect for decorating. As we are about to plant our veg seeds, plant labels would be required. But why use the same boring labels we write each year? Instead, Lulu & Tilda decided to do their own creations, drawing each vegetable and writing its name beside it. A much prettier solution for knowing what seedling are popping up. Want to try it too? Here’s how to make your own plant labels.
Collate suitable stones to draw on. At the moment we can’t venture far so hopefully you can find some close to home. Or perhaps you could order some pebbles online.
Pull together all the seeds you are planting so you know what labels you are going to need. The packets will help show you what you need to draw. Or do a search online for drawings you can get inspiration from. Do an outline in pencil.
As these are going to be outside, using acrylic pens or paints will be best.
To protect your drawings from rain and wind, you should varnish them and they will look amazing for years to come. A good external varnish such as a yacht varnish is best
Sow your seeds and pop your stones in place – don’t they look amazing?
This project can be used towards your “Gardener” badge if you are in Cubs or for a Green Blue Peter badge.
So, as we come to the end of Week 3 of Lockdown, many of us seem to be getting into a new rhythm. And in many ways, this strange new life is actually OK. We can spend more quality time at home, eat meals together more often, play more games, find inventive new ways of staying in touch with family and friends. And of course spend more time in our beloved gardens. Our gardens and pets will be hoping this lockdown will continue for a while. So, if you need some hints and tips on outdoors, here is our Gardening During Lockdown – Week 3 blog…
All the hair & beauty salons may be closed and our own beauty treatments on hold, but that doesn’t mean your lawn can’t get some treatments! Now is the perfect time of year to scarify your lawn and get rid of all that moss. It takes a bit of hard graft but it’s worth the effort. Other things to do include digging out those lawn weeds, aerating your soil (you can just use a garden fork) then top dress the grass and add a fertiliser. For more info check out our blog Lulu & Tilda created 4 years ago (and see how cute they are!)
If you planted some seedlings at the start of Lockdown you will probably see some of them shooting up by now. Once they get to a good size, you can start hardening them off so they get used to outside temperatures. Take them outside during the day but make sure to remember to still bring them back inside of an evening for now.
If you are lucky enough to have a den or playhouse in the garden, now is the perfect time to give it a bit of a make-over. Ours has been painted inside and out, some rotten wood replaced, sign updated and curtains/bunting hung up. Perfect for the summer ahead – let’s hope we can have some gang meetings soon!
It’s been 3 weeks of painting and we have achieved a lot! This week we have finished the fences, done the last gate, painted a table and benches, our pink troughs, a retaining wall and the playhouse! We’ll soon run out of things to paint!
It’s important that your pots are kept topped up and given new growing medium and feeds each year. Add new compost (you may need to remove some old compost) and add some fertiliser. Many fertilisers will provide 6 months of feed allowing you to put your feet up and enjoy your blooms all summer long.
We’ve been wanting to give our “archway” a makeover for a long time, but like everyone, struggle to find time to fit in new projects when “normal” life gets in the way. This weekend, we decided to make a start. Our 3 existing structures will become two, we are going to adapt the shapes slightly and then clad them with new timbers and paint some edges. Watch this space as this project evolves.
We have put up one of our tents to create another space for the kids to play. Daddy Vialii should have been heading off to Parent & Cub Camp this month with Lulu. Looks like it will take place in the garden instead! Good job we have the fire-pit from Week 2 to keep us cosy too!
Other jobs to be tackling during lockdown:
As always, enjoy your gardens and stay safe.
As we skip, hop and jump our way to the end of week 2 of the Covid-19 lockdown, our gardens continue to flourish and provide a safe haven for us to work and relax. There has been a bit more working than relaxing in the garden at Vialii Towers over the last week as we take the opportunity to tackle our to-do list that has been sitting around for a while. Here’s our gardening during lockdown week 2 update…
We have a LOT of painting to tackle in our garden. This week we painted:
Painting will help preserve your woodwork as well as making it look smart and dandy.
Now is a great opportunity to fix some broken bits around the garden. Some of the steps to the girl’ playhouse were starting to rot so new steps were made. The little used slide was removed and a new set of ladders added to create two entrances to the Vialii HQ. Just need to paint them now!!!
In Week 1, we added manure and compost to our borders to give our clay soil the best start to the new season. This week we added a fine bark mulch which will help suppress weeds as well as adding lots of extra lovely nutrients to the soil. Your local hardware store or garden centre should be able to deliver some.
If you have some gaps in your border now is a great time to add some plants. Whether you sprinkle some seeds or order some plants online (or even see if neighbours are splitting their herbaceous plants and have some spare) adding some extra plants will add colour and interest to your outdoor space. If you make them wildlife friendly plants then even better!
It’s important to keep checking in on your seedlings, keep them well watered and keep turning them so they don’t just keep growing in one direction. Our broccoli and nasturtium seeds are currently having a race!
As the weather improves, we will be wanting to spend more and more time in the garden in the evening. It does still get chilly though so it’s time to clean out your fire-pit/chiminea and get it ready for use. Our old one had died the death but thankfully we had already salvaged the drum from an old washing machine so by simply adding some simple legs we now have a fab new fire-pit to take us through lockdown and beyond! Marshmallow anyone?
The power washer was brought out to tackle the girls’ mud kitchen which had gotten a bit, er, muddy! A quick spray, some new writing and a clean of all the equipment (the girls’ were given that job!) and it was as good as new (for now!)
Other jobs you can be doing during lockdown:
Hope you are all staying safe and sane. Enjoy your gardens.
As the first, bizarre, unsettling week of lockdown due to coronavirus comes to an end, we have collated some of the things we have done in our garden during the last week. With who knows how many weeks to come, there will likely be plenty of time to undertake those outdoor jobs you haven’t got round to yet. If you are wanting to turn your hand to horticulture and not sure where to start here are some ideas to get you underway with our latest blog “Gardening During Lockdown – week 1”
It’s the perfect time of year to get some seeds sown and veg and flowers growing. We have sown a variety of seeds, from broccoli and courgettes to sunflowers and nasturtiums. All you need is some compost and seeds (your local hardware store may even deliver to your doorstep). Don’t worry if you don’t have seed trays, anything can be used – yoghurt pots, drinks bottles, butter tubs. Anything!
Get yourself some seed potatoes (don’t just use a potato you find in your cupboard) and get them chitting in a bright, cool area. Make sure the “eyes” are pointing up. After a few weeks they will be ready to plant. Chitting will make your potatoes grow faster and stronger so it’s worth doing.
We had a busy weekend painting fences, making sure that they don’t just look smart but are also given added protection and will last longer. We used “urban slate” on our side fences and “black ash” for our bottom fence, the perfect back drop for planting. It’s a great job to get the kids involved with too!
Top dress your veg beds with compost and/or manure to make sure your veggies grow super strong. Give it a good dig in and clear any weeds.
We needed to fit a gutter to one of our sheds so that job got ticked off this week. Take the time to clear any debris out of your existing gutters too. You could even fit a water butt to a down-pipe and start storing rain water for use in your garden.
Ivy can be pretty in the right place but can also be incredibly invasive. We had lots growing over a side fence so we took the opportunity to tackle that, clearing it all off in readiness for painting.
We will keep you posted on the progress of our seeds and veg patch as well as what other jobs (there are many!) we will be tackling throughout this lockdown period.
We hope you are keeping safe and managing to spend time in your own garden. They will help keep us sane!
In these extraordinary times, more and more people are finding themselves working from home. “Indoor Vialii” have been largely working from home for years so we reckon we are pretty skilled on that front. So here is the Vialii guide to working from home so you can weather the storm and come out the other side still reasonably sane…
Tempting as it may be to sit in your jammies all day, it won’t help your productivity. Enjoy not having to dress quite as smart as you might have to for the office, but at least wear something you would be happy to wear to the shops (unless you are someone who shops in their PJs!) Dress smart, think smart!
Again, it may be tempting to lounge on the sofa with the laptop, but it won’t be great for your productivity or your posture. Sit at a proper desk or table and make sure you have a comfortable chair. Ideally have your work station in a separate room from your main living area where you can close the door at the end of the day so you can then put your feet up and relax.
Now this bit can be tricky. At least when you are at the office you are limited to the healthy packed lunch you brought in (unless you work next door to McDonalds!) Limit the tea and biscuits and opt for healthy snack and lunch options. The aim is not to come out of this crisis 4 stone heavier!
This bit is crucial to your mental health. Take regular breaks and go outside. It might be sitting out in the garden or taking the dog for an hour’s walk up the hills. Getting some fresh air and a break from work will help productivity and how you are feeling.
Creating a schedule is really helpful. Have times when you switch off your phone. Don’t get distracted by the TV just because you can. Especially just now with the constant news bulletins. Schedule those all important breaks. Working from home is great as it means you can nip to the shops or hang out the washing. Just make sure you set time aside for those things and they don’t get in the way of your work.
Working from home can get lonely sometimes so it’s important you stay in touch with colleagues, people in your sector and friends. These days that is easier than ever with apps such as Zoom, Whats App and Skype allowing free video calls. Mental health is crucial and taking time to have a chat with others definitely helps.
And most of all, stay safe. We will get through this by looking out for each other, staying positive and being supportive.
All at Vialii
Gardening is well known for being good for the heart and soul. But when garden pests and diseases start to shoulder in uninvited it can get those stress levels rising again! In this Vialii guide we share some pests and diseases to watch out for in the season ahead…
This list is based on the 2019 most common calls for advice by the RHS and isn’t necessarily the most common garden pests and diseases to be found in UK gardens.
So the box tree caterpillar “wins” the top spot yet again, that is three years in a row! Not a great accolade to have Mr Caterpillar! Box tree caterpillars feed within webbing and can completely defoliate box plants. It is a relatively new insect to Britain.
Honey fungus is the common name given to Armillaria mellea a fungus that attacks and kills the roots of many woody and perennial plants.
If you have a particular pest or disease in your garden please get in touch with us for specialist advice. We try wherever we can to use an organic approach to eradicating garden pests and diseases.
We are great advocates for the glory of seedheads in gardens. They provide interest and structure in the winter garden as well as being important for wildlife. Birds will eke out the seeds whilst insects, and their eggs and larvae, will hide amongst the stems and seed heads and shelter or hibernate below. So, what are the best plants to grow which will provide interesting seedheads for the garden in autumn and winter? Here are our favourites…
This majestic perennial towers over the garden so make sure you have plenty space at the back of your borders. It’s purple thistle like flowers look wonderful in late summer but don’t cut them back once they have gone over. The cardoons will look great through winter and can also be used in dried flower arranging.
Sedum flowerheads look great left during the winter to add shape and texture to your border. We advocate using the ‘Chelsea Chop’ technique on sedums – during the last week of May (Chelsea Flower Show week), cut one in every three stems back to the ground. This will produce plants that are less lush and flower slightly later.
Teasel is a wonderful plant for wildlife, its flowerheads loved by bees. But once the flowers have gone over, be sure to keep them in place as they are prized by goldfinches (and florists!)
The bronzed fennel produces plumes of feathery bronze-purple leaves with yellow flower heads in later summer. Leave these in place for spectacular structural treats when icy in winter.
We love the purple lollipops of alliums that pop up in early summer. But leave the seedheads in place to keep that structure going throughout the season.
We love the structure of the sea holly and it’s striking blue flowers through late summer. The bees love them too! But the seedheads look just as strong so make sure you keep them in place for a double whammy of loveliness!
Hopefully we have convinced you to add a few of these plants to your garden and to enjoy them for much longer periods of the year. And it helps wildlife to boot, bonus!
We all know that gardening is not just for the retired. Trend setters everywhere are looking to create their own cool places to relax outdoors. They want to have their own home allotments to grow organic, healthy veg and do their bit for the environment. You can do that AND be on trend. So if you want to make your garden as trendy as your wardrobe here’s what you need to know with the Vialii Garden Trends for 2020…
Vertical gardening has been round for many years now and will continue to be a strong trend for 2020. It’s a great way to soften a wall or to create extra gardening space in a small courtyard garden. Or you can also grow plants that don’t need deep roots (perfect for growing salads!) Even high end fashion stores are backing this trend with their own green walls in store. You can buy a bespoke system making it an easy way to give it a try this year.
We can reveal that the pantene colour for 2020 is Classic Blue 19-4052, perfect for gardens! From blousy ceanothus to towering delphiniums there are lots of beautiful planting to give cool, blue tones to your garden this year.
As we continue to have the Climate Crisis at the forefront of our minds, it’s important we consider every purchase and if it is really necessary. We love a bit of upcycling at Vialii and love rescuing old furniture and giving it a makeover or creating something new and beautiful from leftover materials. Take a rusty old table and chairs, and give them a makeover with some on-trend chartreuse paint for a new, cheap garden furniture set.
More and more clients are wanting to spend more time in their gardens and that includes cooking. Whilst the good old garden BBQ is still the most popular outdoor cooking option, more and more clients are looking for full on outdoor kitchens with grills, ovens, sinks and more! We can design the perfect kitchen to suit your outdoor space, get in touch to let us know what you are looking for.
As we want to spend more time in our gardens, creating secluded, private areas where we can relax is becoming more important. Even in smaller gardens we can use clever design skills to create a secluded corner where you can get away from the outside world.
If you need some helping transforming your garden in 2020 get in touch to arrange a free garden design consultation. Make 2020 the year of the garden transformation!