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For the researching visitor there's a wealth of landscaping ideas, garden design ideas, lawn advice tips and advice about garden maintenance.

I have just reviewed Toby Buckland's BBC Gardeners' World Practical Gardening Handbook on behalf of the printer and publisher - it's due to go on general sale in March.

I think, so as to be fair, it's important that any book or product should have as wide a review as possible.

You will see that I have picked up on a couple of landscaping points and made some negative comments.

Mike Seaton of The Lawn Company is going to review some of the information on Toby's lawn advice - if you would like to review the book also, then leave a comment below and Mike will send the book on; once you have done your review, I will ask you to send the book on to the next person on the list until we have a good cross-section of LJN's opinion.

The more involved....the more accurate the review (the only thing you have to agree on is sending the book on).

When we have exhausted the process, one of the reviewers will win the book in a draw.

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  • PRO
    Would be a pleasure to add my two pennies worth but wouldn't be able to comment on the Hard Landscaping side of things.
  • PRO
    Thanks Graeme...you comment on what you feel comfortable with - that can be lawns too if you wish.
  • PRO
    "Hi Phil

    Thanks for the review and your comments – I will pass on to our editorial department to see. And I look forward to seeing the reviews of the network members too – a really interesting idea.



    Caroline Newbury
    Deputy Publicity Director, Ebury Publishing"
  • I'd be more than happy to review any hard landscaping sections
  • PRO
    I have just mailed the booked to Mike Seaton.

    You need to be aware that it weights a tad under a kilo and it cost me €10 to send. If Mike could send it to the next reviewer (Graeme) and Graeme to Stuart etc etc.

    I would suggest that 5-10 reviews would be adequate but I'm sure that the publishers and Toby would appreciate the biggest cross section possible?
  • PRO
    Main thread updated and I understand that Graeme's review is on the way.
  • PRO
    Hi Graeme

    Have you managed to send the book on to Stuart yet? Perhaps you can update.


  • PRO
    I would be happy to review the book too if possible.
  • I look forward to reading it
  • PRO
    They said the book is a brilliant new companion to Gardeners World and offers a complete guide to making us a better gardener.

    I quickly flipped though the pages looking for the section of lawn and lawn care. I found a few pages of them towards the back of book. Okay I am a lawn fanatic (real or artificial) and considering most gardens other than court yards, a good percentage of the garden is lawn then surely this should justify a few more pages. There was no real meat to the topic, lightly tip toed around pest and other problems but do you know how many lawn weeds there are let along grass species!! What about how to mow a lawn? All in all a very limited and somewhat questionable advice given. I appreciate that the book isn’t intended to be a complete guide but please wasn’t the book billed as authoritative?

    Having browsed a few more topics I came to the conclusion that this is the type of book that your grandmother would buy you. They know you are “into” gardening and it is by that nice young chap off the telly! I can see it being a best seller in the gardenering range over the Christmas period :-)

    Rather disappointed with the book I put it to one side and to be fair forgot about it for a good week or two. It was only when I had some forced time off that I revisited the book and read it cover to cover. Okay some topics I quickly scanned the words and perhaps didn’t take much interest in it. The book does have that nice touchy personal feel to it as if Toby is sharing his love and knowledge at a basic level to the reader. However after a while it becomes a bit like the pub bore, doesn’t have too much substance and briefly covers the topics.

    One complaint is that on page 37 Toby starts to cover fence posts. Upon turning the page it starts a new topic on making a stone wall! Only to resume where he left off on page 40 which quickly turns to soil type and the picture page opposite is all about plating up wall crevices! I am sure there are other similar errors and these do really get to me.

    After having a few days to read the book and to be fair to Toby, it does give you a flavor and hopefully plant a few seeds to make you investigate in more detail. It was nice to see Toby adding the “green touch” and hinting that not every problem should be addressed by chemicals and he even managed to mentioned the bees which is a hot topic at the moment.

    $1,000 question is would I purchase this book? Personally NO – I would want a more detailed reference book but get that funny feeling that I would probably receive a copy from Granny at Christmas! Saying that I wouldn’t hesitate to pass it on to my oldest daughter for when she is ready to give up clubbing and take more of an interest in her small garden however I guess she would Google rather than read a book.

    Finally the book did regenerate my love affair with vegetables and now my planter wall on the patio (the old veg. plot was turfed over a few years back) is full of French and board beans and onions. The book didn’t teach me anything new but just prompted me to try using what available space I had. I guess you could say the book was inspirational but that would be pushing it.

    I will leave it up to the other experts to comment on how sound his advice is on DIY hard landscaping and the joys of gardening but I warn you, you do end up quite liking Toby and thinking what a nice chap he is or am I turning into my grandparents!?

    The book is winging it's way to Scotland.
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