Seven things we’ve learnt from Monty Don
Gardeners’ World has been running on the BBC for 50 years. It’s become a British institution as millions of viewers settle down on a Friday evening to watch and garden centres are emptied the following day.
You & Yours' Samantha Fenwick met presenter Monty Don in his garden in Longmeadow, Herefordshire. The Gardeners' World presenter imparted some gardening words of wisdom.
1. Don’t worry if it goes wrong
I want people to have a go and if it goes wrong, you then learn something. And if goes right, it’s great! It goes wrong for me all the time too. On Gardeners’ World I get to share the pleasure of gardening and I get some of the knowledge I've learnt over the years to make it work. And by ‘make it work’ all I mean is if I'm sowing carrots, I want to harvest carrots. If I'm growing a rose, I want to see it flower, but that's all. There is no right way, there is no expertise that you should aspire to - it's all about pleasure. Don’t aim too high. Everything can go wrong, you know quite often does, it doesn't matter - that’s not important! The weather will be the most dominant factor, your soil will be a dominant factor and then you. Skillful gardening is learning to work with nature, not against it!
2. Garden for your health
I think gardening is an enormously beneficial thing and it's certainly helped me with depression. I think there are two key things. One is just being outside; here we are standing with the rain falling gently on us but it's not unpleasant – it’s better than being in a stuffy room! Being outside in every weather and every season connects you to something bigger than yourself; it connects you to a rhythm of life! And when you're depressed or lost or lonely, it might be that you become incredibly self-centred and the world just revolves round your misery and you have to get out of that. Life is bigger than that. Everybody's sad, everybody has troubles and one of the ways of overcoming them is to accept that rather than just saying ‘why me’! Number two is that growing things, seeing them grow, planting a seed seeing that come into a beautiful flower is life. It’s a celebration of all there is and it's everything! And if you can see that and share that, that gets you through a lot. Being outside on a daily basis, working, moving, getting fresh air, feeling the weather and the seasons and then celebrating the beauty you’re creating is good for your head!
Take a walk around Longmeadow with Monty Don.
3. Wear whatever you want
Take Gardeners’ World back 50 years and you used to garden in a shirt and tie. My father, for example, would get up on a Saturday, put on a check shirt instead of a white one, and a wool tie instead of a cotton tie. He would go out and garden in his shirt and tie and a short sleeve jersey or whatever and roll his sleeves up perhaps! That was not uncommon - it was normal to dig in a shirt and tie. I think it's bizarre today when I see grown men walking around in shorts in cold weather, I just think why - what's that all about? We all have customs and habits that we’re used to!
I'm a huge a fan of independent nurseries. It’s where you get the expertise.
4. Use independent nurseries rather than big supermarkets
In big supermarket stores you get lots and lots of exactly the same thing, mass-produced to be as cheap as possible. I'm a huge a fan of independent nurseries. It’s where you get the expertise and where you will find people who have devoted their lives to growing something and know far more about it than I do, or anyone else. Because they’ve spent their life on one thing, they will grow geraniums or they will grow fruit trees, and they will really know about it. So when you contact them, they can give you great help and assistance.
5. The Internet is brilliant for gardeners
There are lots and lots of specialist nurseries and they’re brilliant. One of the great things about the Internet means that specialist nurseries are now available to everybody. Whereas before, if there wasn't one locally, you couldn't get your plants! I think it has really changed gardening in the last 50 years. What's brilliant about the Internet for gardeners is I can go 'tap, tap' and have access to 100 independent nurseries, contact them and they will send me within two days the plant I want. It's a fantastic system.
6. The one plant that every garden should have
I think every plant should have a rose. I think probably one of the Albas because the scent is fantastic, they’re as tough as old boots you can't go wrong. Any of the Alba roses are beautifully romantic, the flowers are glorious, the leaves have a beautiful glorious colour and for about four weeks in the summer they are heaven!
7. Watch more Gardeners’ World
I rather regret that I didn't watch more myself when I was younger - I would have learnt more!