Watching Monty Don fiddling around in his massive garden makes me hate rich people even more than usual……..


………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.

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4 thoughts on “Watching Monty Don fiddling around in his massive garden makes me hate rich people even more than usual……..

  1. I’ve thought the same. He explained in the his book, The Jewel Garden that he inherited enough money from his mother for a ‘small deposit’ on Long Meadow, but that doesn’t explain how he got a mortgage when he was a declared bankrupt. I have also wondered why, when money was really tight, it never occurred to him to downsize or get a proper job. If my husband and I had nothing to our name and three children to support, and were lucky enough to inherit a fair sum, I wouldn’t sink it into a derelict house, but he was public school educated born from money and that type don’t slum it very easily. Can’t say it hasn’t worked out for him but despite his constant assurances about his devotion to his wife, they’re faces tell a different story. They are faces that have worn grim expressions as standard for enough years that it’s suck.

    1. Hello, thanks for commenting. I love Monty, I’m a huge fan, but when I wrote this, (which, admittedly was a while ago) I just found it really hard to associate with him. His massive, staffed garden seemed so disconnected from what most people are working with. A lot of it is jealousy I guess. I didn’t feel the same way about Carol Klein and she’s got a similarly picturesque home, but then she’s got a northern accent and a regular name – I’m guilty of inverted snobbery I think.

      1. I don’t think you’re guilty of that. Carol doesn’t play that riches to rags to riches card, he loves to.

        I do like Monty Don, and I admire the way he has marketed himself. His back story is interesting and truly monied people don’t ever think of becoming ordinary just because they’re poor, they’ve always got rich relatives to save them.

        Watching him amble around Longmeadow is pure escapism, who wants to see Titchmarsh digging an ordinary border. But how can you not chuckle when Monty explains that he tends his Lime Walk (a leafy avenue of lime trees) with a gantry on a trailer. Then there’s Sarah’s meadow. (some great stuff we can all apply to our own meadows).

        For good manure Monty recommends keeping livestock. He also suggests planting an orchard, but urges us to start small, buying just fifty trees to start it off. That’s a relief.

        He explains that “by nurturing tree seedlings emerging in the garden, we are meaningfully countering the predations of the rain forests.” That’s Monty all over though, and the reason we love him in spite of it all. He’s sensitive and sexy and vulnerable.

        So the only question that remains Jenny is where I can buy a gantry and a trailer?

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