Book Review: “Thoughtful Gardener” by Jinny Blom

The title of this new gardening book perfectly encapsulates Jinny Blom – the Thoughtful Gardener. With a previous background in psychology Jinny calls on her experience when creating her own, unique outdoor spaces for clients and breathing life into her gardens. But is her new book worthy of space on your burgeoning book shelves? And would you like to win a copy?!

The Thoughtful Gardener

Perhaps rather than taking up space on your book shelves, this book could take pride of place on your coffee table? First impressions are of a beautiful, tasteful book on garden design at a higher level than some we have read.

Jinny of course is an award winning garden designer so any work she produces is worth indulging in and this book is no different. As you would expect, the photography is exemplary. There are page after page of stunning stone villas with grand gardens to match and rustic walls with romantic planting. It is wonderful to see gardens from around the world and feels like you are being whisked away as you flick through the pages.

The Thoughtful Gardener

Each chapter is introduced in a way that draws on Jinny’s psychology background and asks for you to consider elements carefully. These are tied in with a simple yet effective line drawing.

Jinny talks through the process of garden design from walking the area, drawing the garden, planning a layout, considering all the elements (from sun to earth to water) and of course plenty advice on planting.

This is a book for serious gardeners and designers. If you love gardens you will love indulging in these pages. It has quite a traditional feel to the garden with more of a focus on rustic gardens and romantic planting.

The Thoughtful Gardener

Thanks to the lovely people at Quarto we have a copy of “The Thoughtful Gardener” to give away to one of our lucky readers. To enter please enter your details below. The winning entry will be announced on Easter Monday! :

The Thoughtful Gardener is out now on hardback, RRP £35.

Thanks for reading,

All at Vialii

Book Review: “Urban Flowers” by Carolyn Dunster

In recent years there has been a lot of focus on urban gardening and creating gardens whatever space you have. From rooftop terraces to vertical gardens there are always ways to create wonderful gardens wherever you are. In our last blog, “Small Garden, Big Ideas” we shared our top tips for urban gardening. In our latest blog we review some urban flower tips from Carolyn Dunster in her new book “Urban Flowers”…

Urban Flowers by Carolyn Dunster

This book is crammed full of wonderful photography by Jason Ingram and is full of inspiration for adding flowers to your urban garden. Who knew that a plastic washing up bowl could be a gorgeous planter? And there are some lovely tips to make your drain pipe look a lot more interesting.

pretty flowers in a washing bowl

If you are looking to completely overhaul your space, Carolyn gives lots of tips on how measure your space, plan your garden and things to consider. She explains all sorts of gardening including container planting, vertical planting and showcases lots of different styles.

There are pages crammed full of different colour palettes to help you make a cohesive display through planting. She also touches on the importance of trees and why they should be a consideration in gardens.

Colour palettes in planting

To further your skills, there are sections on how to grow plants from seeds and bulbs as well as considering scented or therapeutic plants in your garden. There are even some recipes tucked at the back to take your garden flowers to a new level!

Whatever your skill level and garden knowledge there will be something useful to take from this book. It is easy to flick through and pick out bits of interest and it’s the sort of book you will return to again and again for inspiration.

Packed full of lovely images


If you are interested in gardens and dabbling a bit more then this book should be on your reading list. And as it happens, we have one to give away. Just fill out the form below and we will pick a winner on 18th April 2017. Good luck!

Urban Flowers is published by the lovely people at Frances Lincoln and is available in hardback for £20 from 6th April 2017.

All at Vialii

Book Review: She Sheds by Erika Kotite

“She Sheds” is a magical book, crammed to the gunnels with tips and inspiration to create your very own garden retreat. They’re sheds but not as we know it! “She Sheds” immediately gets you into the spirit of creating your own outdoor space right from the introduction. Who wouldn’t want their own “refuge of comfort” filled with your most treasured possessions and space for you, and you alone? I’m in! Let’s find out more…

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

She Sheds by Erika Kotite

The She Shed

The “Shed Style” section gives a gentle introduction to some of the styles you may want to consider. This chapter is a little light and only touches on a small handful of syles. Not to worry though as there is plenty of inspiration to follow…

The subsequent chapters show examples of some of the “She Sheds” the author has discovered on her travels around the world. They cover a huge array of styles and purposes – from gardening to art, yoga to floristry, you can use them for pretty much anything you wish.

Our Favourites

Our favourite “She Sheds” include:

But they all have their own inimitable style and are the perfect creations by their owners, all for their own unique use.

Fabulous She Shed creations. Photography by Susan Mintun

Fabulous She Shed creations. Photography by Susan Mintun

Tips for your own she shed

There are so many quirky touches and ideas to discover in this book, you can’t help be inspired, even if you had never considered having a she shed of your own.

Some of our own top tips to consider for your own she shed include:

She Sheds

Amazing interiors. Photography by Cody Ulrich

Did we love it?

Well, yes! There are lots of “Builder’s Notes” in the book which provide great tips on how to create your “she shed”, whether you want to do it from scratch or just know the best way to protect a potting bench. There are also lots of “Owner’s Favourite Things” which gives a lovely insight into the most important elements to them.

“She Sheds” is very empowering with lots of stories of women who had no previous skills, suddenly deciding to build their own “den” and construct walls and much more. Or commission someone else to bring our dreams to life. There isn’t a lot us women can’t do! We found “She Sheds” not only an inspirational read for women, but for anyone interested in creating a haven to get away from the daily grind and create some “me time” in the perfect surroundings.

Vialii star rating:

5 star review

“She Sheds” by Erika Kotite is available in the UK from February 2017, priced £16.99 for hardback, published by Cool Springs Press.

“The Children’s Garden” – a book review by Lulu Burt

Hey y’all. I am always on the look-out for new ideas for things to do outside in the garden. You may have read my recent blog which had 19 Great Ideas for Summer Fun In The Garden. Well, now I have even more ideas to share with you thanks to a great new book called “The Children’s Garden” by Matthew Appleby.


 I am so excited about my new book I can't open my eyes!

I am so excited about my new book I can’t open my eyes!

There are a whopping 52 projects packed into this book and they are done in a very engaging way. There are LOTS of lovely colour photos as well as plenty of tips and facts within each section. The book is split into the different seasons so that there are always plenty of ideas to choose from whatever time of year it may be. Everything is done on a really low budget and most projects use things which you already have lying about the house. Here are a few of my favourites:

Fun With Potatoes

Potato stamping is an old favourite and perfect for this time of year as we harvest our home grown tatties. There are always a few potatoes which aren’t quite up to my high standards so what better than to use them to do some potato stamping!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Wet Work & Play

There are lots of water fun ideas in this chapter. One that I loved doing was really simple. Mummy gave me a bowl filled with soapy suds and I set about washing all my dolly’s clothes. My clothes ended up drying on the washing line too but it was great fun!


 Doing the washing is fun - Mummy says I can always do it!

Doing the washing is fun – Mummy says I can always do it!

Flowers To Pick & Press

I have been sent a flower press to try out (I’ll blog all about that soon!) so combining that with this book was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I loved picking lots of pretty flowers then seeing how different they looked once pressed. I then made a pretty bookmark using them.

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

Feed The Birds

This was a great project and all we needed was an old water bottle, a couple of pencils and some bird seed. My bird feeder looks great hanging in the garden.

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

And here are some of the ones which I am desperate to try which I haven’t yet…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Children’s Garden” and would definitely recommend it for all children.

I give it a Lulu rating of:

Five out of five, woohoo!

Five out of five, woohoo!


Available on hardback, RRP 14.99 *

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

*Price correct at time of publication

Book Review: Usborne Garden Sticker & Colouring Book

As you know, I am an expert on all things gardening. And I am pretty good at sticking and colouring too so I was the natural choice to give my expert opinion on Usborne’s latest book, handily called “Garden Sticker & Colouring Book”. But did it reach my high expectations or did it crash into a sticky, scribbly mess?…

A brand new book from Usborne, but what did I think of it?...

A brand new book from Usborne, but what did I think of it?…

Well, if you are already a fan of Usborne books like me, you will know that they know how to make a good book and, to be honest, this one doesn’t disappoint. Here are some of my favourite things about the book:

It’s got loads of pages in it. 32 to be precise so it will last for AGES!

Wow, there are a LOT of stickers to choose from!

Wow, there are a LOT of stickers to choose from!

The stickers are brilliant quality. I have some sticker books where the stickers are hard to get off and rip easily. These ones are much better quality and have a nice glossy feel to them.

 Adding the bugs to their silhouettes was LOTS of fun

Adding the bugs to their silhouettes was LOTS of fun

There are lots of extra stickers in the book which you can stick on any page. I like that as it means I can be creative and also add stickers to the colouring pages too.

At the back of the book there are lots of bits to colour in which makes a nice change from just sticking. I love sticking but after a while it’s nice to do some colouring too. Plus I like that the flowers were proper flower shapes and not just a generic flower. There were foxgloves and echinacea and poppies and all sorts of pretty plants to colour.

Lots of pretty flowers to colour

Lots of pretty flowers to colour

There’s lots to learn in this book. It tells you the names of lots of bugs and birds, vegetables and some of the animals that come out at night (like Batty the Bat!)

They even have Primula vialii growing beside the pond in one of the pictures. This is the plant that our family business Vialii Garden Services is named after. Cool!

 Look, a Primula vialii which is what our company is named after!

Look, a Primula vialii which is what our company is named after!

The book costs £7.99 which I think is AMAZING value for a book which will give many, many hours of fun. I have spent loads of time colouring and sticking and there is still lots to do. So for those rainy days when you can’t get outdoors in the garden then what better than to snuggle down with this book.

It gets a big thumbs up from me!

It gets a big thumbs up from me!

Lulu’s Star Rating:

Hope you love it as much as me!Available from Usborne Books and all good book sellers.

Hugs& kisses

Lulu xx