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on 28 June 2008
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.
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on 23 April 2001
This book is inpirational. It is overflowing with wonderfull ideas to make your garden a place for everyone. From topiary to treehouses, from barbecues to borders - this book discusses everything you may ask, and a lot more besides. it doesn't matter on the size or shape or location of your garden, 'Family Gardens' address all. With beautiful photographs, wonderful yet simple diagrams, and an easy reading style Bunny Guinness has created a fabulous must have.
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on 17 August 1999
Bunny Guinness writes from personal experience about the joys and difficulties of making a garden, not just for children, but the whole family, to enjoy. We've had enormous fun planting a few dead sticks in a circle and watching them grow into a real live willow wigwam, based on an idea in the book. Our two children love sitting inside - and so does their father - to sneak a quiet read of the Sunday papers. The only downside on this wonderful outdoor house, has been the plague of wasps which for some reason appear attracted to something exuded from the willow. Glad to say, the wasps have now gone.... Great book.
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on 29 June 2011
This is a nice book. It's got some lovely photos and some lovely ideas. I've had it almost a year and haven't done any of the projects yet even though I keep it to hand. The ideas are nice and certainly some are possible but I found the projects a bit plain or a bit unenticing in relation to some of the less attainable ideas in there. Some of the more advanced suggestions of ideas and the accompanying photos aren't translated into projects. But it's inspirational. It's a good kick starter book. And although shorter than I expected I like it and it's worth the small investment. Who knows, I might put some of the projects to work this summer yet. Or I might still be dreaming about them next summer. Let me put it like this. It was worth coming back to give a positive review.
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on 5 March 2012
I've amassed quite a collection of gardening books in my search for the book to help me turn a small plot into the perfect garden for a child to play in, but I have found The One with this book. Other reviews poke fun at the idea of a "small city garden" that has space for a pool and summerhouse. It does tickle me that as far as the author is concerned there are garden designs to suit every size of garden. However, the designs are all gardens that she has actually designed and created, and if your garden was the size of ours and most readers you wouldn't be hiring award winning garden designer Bunny Guiness to give it a makeover, so that is the smallest garden design she is going to stick in her book, to be fair. There are still elements and ideas you can use even if you're not going to be able to squeeze in a wildflower meadow, woodland area and bamboo maze. I will be whiling away many Winter evenings after the child is in bed poring over this book and fantasising about which ideas I will be trying to recreate in an awkward shaped small plot when the weather gets better.
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on 20 September 2010
At first glance this looks like a coffee-table book full of aspirational photographs that are only achievable for the very rich, but in fact it is full of practical advice including design plans with measurements and authoratative safety advice. Most of the photos are taken from gardens that most of us can only dream about, but the elements of these gardens can be translated to any situation, within reason. Early on in the book Bunny Guinness comments that children can spend as much, if not more time playing in the garden than in any other room in the house, so some careful thought to give them lots of play value while not turning your patch into a municipal paly area is well worth the time and effort, and her book can help you do that. This may be more appropriate for people living outside the city, as I do, but it clarifies the potential value a garden has for children and the whole family. It has given me a completely different vision for our family garden, which is likely to cost a lot less as I will not be rushing out to buy ready made equipment and plonk it down. The ideas in this book can be the first step to re-wilding your children in the safety of their own garden, their imagination and independence can germinate within site of the kitchen window.
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on 25 July 2012
This book was bought as a present for someone with a family of three kids, who has recently took an interest in gardening, he found it informative with lots of good ideas.

I think the book makes a good present for a friend or family member who is in a similar position.

It was also good value for money.
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on 18 June 2011
We gave this book to my sister and our nieces, who were interested in creating a magical fairy garden in their yard.
Lots of ideas to use and not too difficult to follow.
Easy and fun to read, with lots of inspiring ideas.
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on 12 May 2010
We have 3 kids that need a 'family' garden and we wanted to turn ours into exactly that but we only had a slight idea of what we wanted. This book is truly great, with sound advice, useful information and detailed projects for children playing areas, tree-houses, etc. Highly recommended!
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on 3 January 2012
Book arrived promptly and in excellent condition as described. Had planned to give it as a gift to my son who is really into recycling and I think he thought it was new. Very good value for money.
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