Calling all UK readers: have you watched Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens? I won’t be able to until it’s on DVD or makes it to BBC America (the former option is the likelier of the two). What I have seen are the early previews and reviews of this new series, in which Don, who took over from Alan Titchmarsh on the popular BBC series Gardeners’ World, travels to 80 gardens throughout the planet.
One of the most perplexing statements came from Britain’s Telegraph: “And so the episode went on: at times tantalizingly suggesting that we were about to get some history of a non-gardening kind, but soon plunging back to matters botanical.” Um … isn’t this supposed to be a garden-centric show? There does seem to be much ambivalence regarding Monty Don as a garden show presenter: seems you either slightly despise him as the replacement for Titchmarsh or you kind of like him for his passion about gardening. I’ve also heard that while Titchmarsh might be considered the Roger Moore of the gardening presenter dynasty, Don is the Daniel Craig. Wow—glamorous comparisons for men who talk about seeds and plants! That wouldn’t happen on this side of the Atlantic, I fear.
As far as I can tell, Don is trying to explore gardens worldwide that express their cultural context; he’s not after the Sissinghurst of Peru or the Longwood of Siberia. Feedback from the first segment is interesting. There is a visit to Cuba, which reminds me of my earlier post about the dacha gardens of Russia. Apparently, urban allotment gardening is huge in Cuba, just as it is in the post-perestroika Russia. And not such a bad thing either, though the Telegraph thought otherwise: “To the layman, the sight of millions of people too poor to buy food (and with little food to buy if they weren’t) seemed quite a sad one.” Yeah. God forbid you should grow, not buy, your food.I must admit that I am more interested in the ancient floating gardens of the Amazon and the leftover Edens made by eccentric Englishmen in the north of Mexico than in contemporary Cuban gardening-by-necessity, but hell, I’d love the opportunity to judge for myself. This sounds like a cool show. BBC America, are you listening? Here’s Don,talking about his aspirations for the series.: