How To Make A Bug Hotel

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…

The girls with their 5 star hotel
The girls with their 5 star hotel

You will need:

To make:

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.

Drill holes in a piece of wood
Drill holes in a piece of wood (more appropriate footwear is recommended!)

3. Fill a tin can with some cut up pieces of bamboo cane.

Pop bamboo canes into an old tin can
Pop bamboo canes into an old tin can

4. Stack some broken pieces of terracotta pot or slates inside your box

Old broken pieces of terracotta pots are perfect for stacking inside your bug hotel
Old broken pieces of terracotta pots are perfect for stacking inside your bug hotel

5. Stuff pine cones, straw and moss into the spaces.

Stuff lots of straw, moss and pine cones into all the gaps
Stuff lots of straw, moss and pine cones into all the gaps

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!

Find a quiet corner of the garden for your bug hotel.
Find a quiet corner of the garden for your bug hotel.

Vialii

How To Make A Scarecrow

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!

How to Make a Scarecrow

You will need:

To make:

1. Create your structure with a central post and a cross bar for arms and preferably one for the hips too!

Make your frame out of old timbers or canes
Make your frame out of old timbers or canes

2. Attach the clothes and seal off the legs/arms with string or cable ties so stuffing wont fall out.

Attach the clothes and seal off the legs and arms
Attach the clothes and seal off the legs and arms

3.Stuff the legs, body and arms (we used moss for ours). You can add some straw to the arms and legs for effect.

We used moss to stuff the clothes
We used moss to stuff the clothes

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)

Make a head and add a hat and a face
Make a head and add a hat and a face

6.Add the head to your scarecrow and give him/her a name. Ours is called Bob!

Lulu, Tilda and Bob!
Lulu, Tilda and Bob!

Lulu, Tilda and Bob!

Have fun making your own scarecrows!

Vialii

Make Your Own Leaf Art

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…

You will need:

How to make your own leaf 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.

Pick a leaf to create your leaf art with.

Pick a leaf to create your leaf art with

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!)

Carefully draw around the leaf allowing space for the full picture.

Carefully draw around the leaf allowing space for the full picture.

3. Keep drawing around your leaves until you have made your flower shape.

Add in all the shapes to make your flower picture.

Add in all the shapes to make your flower picture.

4. Add in any detailing you wish to add.

Add in stripes, spots, geometric lines - whatever you want for your own unique picture.

Add in stripes, spots, geometric lines – whatever you want for your own unique picture.

5. Let your imagination run riot with your colouring.

Colour your leaf art in any way you wish.

Colour your leaf art in any way you wish.

6. Ta da, you have created your own leaf art!

The completed picture - well done Tilda, it looks amazing!

The completed picture – well done Tilda, it looks amazing!

Hope you enjoy making your own unique leaf art at home.

Vialii

Gardening Out of Lockdown

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.

Keep your broccoli covered with netting to protect the leaves from being eaten by caterpillars

Keep your broccoli covered with netting to protect the leaves from being eaten by caterpillars

Planting out beans

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!

Lulu planted the beans as companion plants to our potatoes

Lulu planted the beans as companion plants to our potatoes

Harvesting veg

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!

Pick your own lunch! Organic and impossible to get fresher. Perfect way to be gardening out of lockdown!

Pick your own lunch! Organic and impossible to get fresher. Perfect!

Potting on courgettes

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.

Pop an empty bottle beside your courgette plant for watering. Gardening out of lockdown.

Pop an empty bottle beside your courgette plant for watering

Potting on sunflowers

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???

Pot on your sunflowers and stake them for the best results

Pot on your sunflowers and stake them for the best results

Sweep up fallen cherries

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.

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Carry on deadheading

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.

Deadhead any flowers which have gone over to maximise flowering and tidy your borders

Deadhead any flowers which have gone over to maximise flowering and tidy your borders

Stopping Japanese anemones from spreading

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.

Watch out for Japanese anemone sneakily spreading...Gardening out of lockdown.

Watch out for Japanese anemone sneakily spreading…

Camping!

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!

Camping in the garden, great fun!

Camping in the garden, great fun!

Vialii