This deluxe version of Geoff Hamilton’s 3D Garden Designer contains three programs. As well as the Garden Designer software itself, it includes a Plant Encyclopedia and a disc entitled Gardening with Wildlife in Mind. More about the extras in a moment: we’ll deal with the main course first.
3D Garden Designer lets you plot out your own garden from scratch, although you’ll spend most of the time working in the 2D overhead plan mode. It’s here where you lay out your fences and boundary walls, patios, sheds and flowerbeds; then you can switch to the 3D view and admire the results. The graphics are only adequate and the program shows its age in three dimensions, but nonetheless, it’s a reasonable representation.
The interface is kept fairly simple, yet it’s patchy in that some tasks are overly fiddly. There are minor niggles, too. For instance, when shifting a fence around it’s easy to accidentally curve it. During the process of working out the slope of our garden, we found the contour points that we placed jumped around at times, for no apparent reason. Then there are more major problems. The task of producing a quarter circle stone patio had us stumped for a long while, and the eventual solution was inelegant.
The 3D Garden Designer program has its own built-in plant encyclopedia, which boasts a powerful filter and search system that can be used to work out what you should plant according to your soil type, climate and so forth. A plant care calendar is also included, along with a database of typical diseases, pests and control measures. Finally, a plant naming quiz is thrown in for good measure.
Of course, this gift pack has a fully-fledged encyclopedia program bundled with it too. Geoff Hamilton’s Plant Encylopedia is more detailed than the encyclopedia incorporated into Garden Designer, covering over 4,000 shrubs, trees and flowers. It’s smartly presented so you can tell at a glance what conditions a particular plant thrives under, when it blooms and how big it grows. The photos provided are of a good quality and the search function is excellent. This is certainly a handy companion for picking out suitable plants for your garden.
The final program, Gardening with Wildlife in Mind, is a database of plants and creatures which is presented in the same crisp fashion as the Plant Encyclopedia. This can be used to find out what wildlife will be attracted to the plants in your planned garden, plus there are handy tips given to maximise the benefit to visiting critters.
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