While I cannot deny that this is a beautifully photographed book, with some idyllic suggestions for children's outdoor play spaces, I was very disappointed to find it wholly impractical for what you might call the 'everyday garden'. I chose to buy this book, out of the numerous other guides to family gardening on offer, based on the previous two reviews - which I think miss out on some crucial points. Yes, I could build a willow teepee, or a sandpit, and the stone sink barbecue is fabulous and I'm going to attempt one this weekend, but without an available woodland, ancient tree, terrace or orchard, I would say that 75% of this book is but a pipe dream for me to indulge myself in. My own garden is not particularly small, but neither is it particularly large, and even the 'small city garden' suggestions (with a pool and summerhouse on stilts) are more ambitious in scale than most city - or even town- gardens I know could seek to adopt.
I've got an ordinary rectangular plot backing onto a Victorian cottage, a reasonable size patio, maybe 25 ft of lawn and a stone outbuilding, so I have some scope to play with even if it's a little limited -and I will certainly be attempting to recreate some of the more modest projects in 'Family Gardens'. However, this isn't the 'one stop shop' book I was hoping for... I'll need to carry on looking to find ideas that I can realistically recreate in my little bit of England's green and pleasant land. I can't fault the magic of this book, or the quality of its images and text, but I think the statement 'Whatever the size of your outdoor space...' is just a bit misleading. If I had seen this in a bookshop, I would have picked it up with interest, felt rather excited flicking through, but ultimately returned it to the shelf realising the fantasy treehouses, wild flower meadows and water gardens were, sadly, just out of my league.