………ever since his return to the World of Gardeners’ both on TV and in print, he has paused every few moments to reiterate that he has built up the garden from scratch and with no money. He’ll illustrate the point by telling us how the trees lining his lime walk cost 50p each. Or he once spent thousands of pounds on plants with no idea whether the cheque would bounce.
“Wait a second,” I find myself thinking, “if you were so skint where did the massive sodding house with the massive sodding garden come from then? Were they giving them away? Did you just find it? Did you whittle it from driftwood?” Sadly my queries go unanswered as at no point does he break from his narrative of success despite the odds to explain how he managed to end up in such a fortunate situation in the first place, or how when money was really tight, it never occurred to him to downsize or get a proper job.
Also the last time I worried a cheque would bounce, it was to pay for my son’s school dinners, Monty getting a bit carried away at Wyvale isn’t really the same thing.
I suppose the point he is trying to make is that gardening is more about time and effort than resources, and that impressive results are achievable for all, but by neglecting to acknowledge his own head start, he is having the opposite effect.
He reminds me of the celebrity mothers who pride themselves on balancing family, career and a gruelling keep fit regime whilst refusing to acknowledge the army of nannies and assistants who enable them to ‘have it all’.
I find this ‘anyone can do it’ a little bile-raising as I watch the Don stroll around his well-stocked garden. Such lifestyles are aspirational precisely because for most of us they are not achievable, and this insistence that all it takes is hard work and enthusiasm, only leads to a demoralising sense of failure because we haven’t room for both a water feature and a veg patch or our range of plants has been limited by owning only one greenhouse.
I don’t get why I can’t just appreciate his garden and his expertise without also having to admire this ‘struggle against the odds’ rubbish. They’re not charming anecdotes, it’s irritating gloating. For most people ‘starting from scratch with their garden’ doesn’t assume that it is at least an acre and we’ll have a job which enables us to spend all our time doing it up.
I know nowadays even the great Titchmarsh can be guilty of being a bit out of touch, (‘just use whatever you’ve got spare from the log-pile’), but he didn’t go to university, he used to work for the council and he’s northern- all of which makes his rags to ditches tale far more plausible. I just can’t take pleas of poverty seriously from somebody called Monty.