Monty Don has been getting an unusual amount of attention lately in the U.S., thanks to his provocative article “There’s no point trying to convince millennials to garden. Nobody wants to hear that but I suspect he’s right.
So who IS this guy? Here’s a quick bio on BBC 2’s website for their show “Gardener’s World.”
Interesting guy, right? Here’s more.
He loves hedges, woodland, topiary, vegetables, fruit and all plants that capture a season, mood or spirit of place. He loathes houseplants, begonias and horticultural pedantry. His favourite gardeners are Derek Jarman, Juan Grimm, Jacques Wirtz, Fernando Caruncho and his wife Sarah. His favourite garden jobs are planting and cutting anything from grass to logs.
Just reading that, I want to look up all those gardeners his loves and then find out where I can watch Monty in action, which coincidentally I did a couple of months ago while browsing YouTube.
I discovered his 10-episode show “Around the World in 80 Gardens,” which is MUCH more interesting than that title had me expecting. Instead of seeing 80 famous gardens, viewers see and hear his interesting takes on plant cultures around the world, both ancient and present-day.
Episode 1 here covers Mexico – its wide range of flora, marigolds in the Day of the Dead festivals, how Aztecs gardened, floating gardens, planting in mud, plus spectacular gardens there today. In Monty’s words, the show is about people’s relationships to plants and it’s “challenging my idea of what a garden is.”
Monty’s a terrific guide, thoughtful and enthusiastic but not afraid to criticize occasionally. (In one garden he’s upset by the “kitsch”).
I also watched Episode 5 here about the U.S., as I was dying to see how he tackled it. Curiously, I’d say. He visits a grand garden on Long Island, a New York City community garden, Central Park, a park in Queens, the Maryland garden of James van Sweden, Monticello, the Kansas prairie, California’s Huntington Garden and some over-the-top private gardens in Hollywood.
Beyond North America there’s lots more of the world – and Monty – available online. I’m saving these episodes for a cold night in January.
10: Southeast Asia.