THIS IS GARDEN DESIGNER CD ROM Now British television is so dominated by design programmes, Europress have produced a series of integrated design software linked with stars' names--Charlie Dimmock's Water Garden Designer; Tommy Walsh's D.I.Y Guide and 3-D Designer 3--and Alan Titchmarsh's Garden Designer. This 3-D garden designing software takes considerable getting used to, and is more something for the gardener to devote those frustratingly inactive winter months to, than to sit down to for a quick play. It will run on a Pentium 200MHz, 16 Mb RAM, 30Mb disk space and a 16 bit 888x600 graphics card, although so slowly that you sometimes think it is not working (Pentium II MMX266MHz, 64 Mb RAM, a sizeable 310Mb free disk space, 16 bit 1024x768 graphics card and Direct 3D graphics accelerator card (8Mb) recommended).
You start off designing in 2-D, adding landscape features to your plot and selecting garden features and plants from a catalogue which also gives you details of the plants. This plan can then be viewed in 3-D, and you can wander round, looking at the effect from different angles, using special features to see what it looks like at different times of the year and after a number of years' growth. There is an extensive help menu, although it is not always written in the most user-friendly language (sometimes this is clarified by the instruction booklet). A number of peculiarities to the program--for example flower beds with convex curves are very difficult to produce and the plant catalogue allows you to plant 27 different varieties of crab apple but not a single ordinary apple--can be overcome by designing and importing your own features, although this demands considerable design skills. With patience, this software can produce some remarkable effects, but if you are a beginner, looking for something to help you get down some rough ideas, then you would probably be happier with Geoff Hamilton's Garden Designer.--
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