Front cover - 17k Change That Garden:
Transforming furniture, Ornaments and Pots.

by Helen Levien
pub. Search Press, 2000
Paperback, 292 x 216mm, 96 pages, 9.95
ISBN 0 85532 890 8

You may recognise Helen Levien's name from her appearances on the BBC's Change That programme. In this book she demonstrates, through instruction and step-by-step photographs, a whole variety of decorative pieces to brighten up a dull garden, patio, conservatory, or even a balcony for that matter.

Eleven projects are detailed in the book and fall into a variety of design styles: a rustic table, aztec plant stand, roman mosaic paving stones, Victorian pot, Thai picnic cloth, Shaker trug, Mackintosh water feature, Japanese planet pot, Catalan Sundial, Swedish bench, and a retro table. Even if none of these particularly suit your taste directly, the information the author provides should provide you with enough practical instructions to adapt her designs to your own choosing. As she says in her Introduction: 'My choice of colours and motifs has naturally been a personal one...', and encourages her readers to experiment and adapt.

Before beginning her design instructions Levien sets aside several pages to list the tools, equipment and materials which you may need for these or any practical DIY design work. She also makes recommendations on protective eye wear, dust masks and protective gloves.

Each of the 'projects' begins with a short creative overview and the items and materials needed to complete the work. Patience and time is also a virtue in these cases. If, however, you have an urge to add a Roman influence to your garden path, or add an Aztec feel to a dark and overgrown corner of your garden (remembering that all those South American ruins were generally jungle-bound when they were rediscovered), then this is the book to start you on your creative journey.

The book is a slim, magazine sized publication with high quality pictures throughout - both the step-by-step images and those which show off the finished items in typical in-situ designer settings.

The inspiration for the author's ideas come from a whole variety of sources. Catalan artist and architect Antoni Gaudi lies behind the Catalan Sundial, the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh of the Art Nouveau movement inspired the water feature, and an overgrown Victorian garden inspired the pot decorated with a sand and lichen effect. There's nothing really too taxing or demanding about any of the projects which, in themselves, may well inspire the reader to explore beyond Levien's original concepts.

To be truthful, most of the projects in this book are not of my liking, but that's a very personal reflection. However, if your garden is in need of a little brightening cheer, then the ten pounds spent on this short information packed book could be the starting point for a complete facelift in the garden. The practical tips and knowledge could also save you a heap on wasted materials and time.

'Change That Garden' is available direct from the publisher's credit card mail order service (Ph. 01892 510850) as well as book and craft shops.

Copyright © 2000