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When I first saw this game I was really excited. But disappointment hit as it seemed to be an electronic gardening encyclopedia. But as I dug a little deeper I found all sorts of useful tools to help my gardening know-how.
I love gardening but our patch is quite big and with three small kids I don't get the time I'd like to keep it looking nice. My husband does the obligatory lawn mow and hedge trim every couple of months, but apart from essential maintenance it is sorely neglected.
The other hindrance is that my plant know-how is really bad; I tend to do a visit to the garden centre in the spring, buy lots of plants with great hope and expectation of everything looking wonderful. By the following year they have usually all expired. I have learnt over the years the things not to buy - Delphiniums and Lupins get eaten by slugs and snails.
Things die if I plant them by the box hedge. The bottom of the garden is dark and boggy. So what I am left with is an awful lot of large over-grown shrubs. The kind that just keep coming back year after year. Great for being low maintenance, but a bit dull and a lot of them are just getting too big.
You could even add the plants that you already have in your garden, which would give a more complete picture of the tasks you have throughout the year.
Now you can see why I jumped at the chance of some interactive gardening know-how at my finger tips in the form of Gardening Guide.
The game invites you to create your own garden profile, to which you can add your favourite plants. Your personal gardener Paul is on hand with suggestions and advice. There is a really good plant search which you can narrow to your specific needs - soil type, the amount of sun your garden gets, how much you are likely to water them (not much if you are like me). How large you want the plants to be.
Then you are given a list of suitable plants which you can then add to your favourites or plant in your garden. Each plant has an extensive glossary of information including any likely pests and diseases to watch out for. What's more the game has been developed in association with the RHS - so I feel pretty confident that what I'm reading is sound advice.
If you decide to add the plant to your virtual garden, the game then transfers all the information to your garden calendar. So month by month you can see what you need to do to care for that plant. Quite clever really.
You could even add the plants that you already have in your garden, which would give a more complete picture of the tasks you have throughout the year. It may prevent some of those mistakes we all make, like forgetting to prune those shrubs which are now enormous!
You can keep adding plants to your hearts content. I searched for plants for shady dry soil - like I have under that tricky box hedge. It came up with an annual flowering plant that looked very pretty. So I will give that one a go next spring I think.
You can even take the DS with you to the garden centre to help you get the right thing.
Ok, so this is all very well but then you have to actually get out there and buy and plant them in real soil in your real garden. That's the tricky bit!
I would say that spending a little time with the DS researching and reading about the different plants that would work with your soil type is well worth doing. You can even take the DS with you to the garden centre to help you get the right thing. You will also know when the best time to plant them is and when they will flower. I think this would be an ideal tool for anyone planning a brand new garden from scratch. Or sorting out problem areas where things won't grow. I'm going to use it to tackle the dark boggy end of my garden, which really needs cheering up. There is also an area with gardening technique information, like taking cuttings, pruning and other tricky jobs.
You may look at this and feel it doesn't offer you any more than a good gardening book would, as I did at first. Whilst this isn't a garden design tool, it does give you a way of organising and customising plant information to suit your garden and soil type and lifestyle.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: