Premiering its 53rd season on BBC’s channel Two, Gardeners’ World, hosted by Monty Don returns this Friday at 9pm. Those of us in the states can find each new episode within a couple of hours on BritBox (I stream BritBox through Amazon Prime).
Late to the pleasure of viewing this long-running gardening program, as the saying goes, it is better late than never. And while I am VERY late, I am ever so grateful to TSLL readers for introducing to me this beloved program. Beginning to tune in last March just as the pandemic began, I looked forward each week to a new episode (a new one airs every Friday running from the third Friday in March to the middle of October).
For many TSLL readers, you know this program well, so what I am about to share won’t be new information, but to anyone unfamiliar or curious about why the love for this British gem endures, let me begin with Monty.
As the show premiered in 1968, with the lead host being Ken Burras, the baton has been passed to more than a handful of gentleman, but not much more than a handful. Geoff Hamilton (1976-1996) hosted for the longest duration with Monty Don matching his tenure and will be surpassing Hamilton becoming the longest serving lead host as he just renewed a three-year contract beginning this season.
Monty Don, the host since 2003 (with a three year hiatus) greets viewers each episode in Longmeadow, his garden situated on two acres he and his wife Sarah purchased in 1991 in Herefordshire, England, located on the southeastern border of Wales. Sharing a handful of segments in his own garden as the seasons unfold, cohosts (Adam Frost, Carol Klein, Nick Bailey, Frances Tophill, Arit Anderson and Joe Swift are the most frequent, but there are many more) and contributors take viewers to other parts of England, interview an array of everyday gardeners as well as visit National Trust gardens and National collections of prized plants and educate the viewers as well as provide a tranquil virtual escape to the countryside of England.
All of this is to say, I will be tuning in this weekend as Gardeners’ World is one of my favorite simple luxuries and weekly rituals for three of the four seasons of the year. Whether you are a gardener or not, I think you might enjoy tuning in as well. Today I would like to share with you seven reasons to travel to England and escape to the garden.
So, just like Norman, let’s dig in!
Whether you garden or not, part of the cosyness offered by Gardeners’ World are the moments Monty shares with his pups. Whether following him around on the many paths winding through his different gardens, chasing a ball as Nigel greatly loved (see below) and who will be dearly missed this season and Nell continues to enjoy (see below), or watching petite Patti tap dance throughout the garden beds (or sleeping in the salad green beds in the greenhouse as seen below in a recent pic shared on Monty’s instagram page), the pups remind us to be present, to savor and to be awed by the natural world, as well as the importance of kindness and playfulness.
2. Deepen the love for each of the seasons
Walking viewers through the seasons in his own garden, I as a student appreciate the visuals which while books are wonderful, seeing Monty and his cohosts model not only what a plant looks like, but how to care for it and knowing what it needs and why builds the enthusiasm that I too can welcome the natural beauty into my yard year-round in one way or another (no matter how large or small my plot of land or window sill may be).
3. Learning how to work and appreciate the garden and climate you have
Monty is an organic gardener and while he has greenhouses, he grows what the climate in Herefordshire supports. Admittedly, while I would love to grow a lemon tree, it will just never happen in Bend, Oregon. Appreciating what I can grow, learning how to care for it well and celebrating what others can grow in their unique climate is a lesson for life: Nurture your talents, nurture your strengths and celebrate the gifts of others as well. We all have something beautiful to share with the world.
4. Build your confidence in sowing your own seeds, making gardening more affordable
Readers of TSLL may remember I sowed my first seeds last spring and was beyond delighted when the herbs I cannot find in nurseries locally began to sprout! (Check out the tutorial post sharing 12 steps for successful sowing of seeds here.) Regularly Monty and his cohosts are sowing seeds, and simply seeing this practice in action makes it less intimidating. No fancy accoutrements, no excessive money spent, and because they show you what to sow year-round, you learn how to keep your garden blooming and producing throughout the seasons as well. Needless to say, you too can have a bounty of vegetables, fruit and blooms without paying the prices you would have to if you purchased the plant full grown.
5. A reminder to savor each day and welcome your garden into your daily routine
While yes, Monty is the master gardener who has a seemingly innate passion and talent for gardening, he also has a lovely, sweet charm and wit about him. From standing by a tulip bed and wishing Nigel a happy 10th birthday, to mentioning dancing under a disco ball he and his wife have in his house and may or may not dance about under from time to time, to suggesting a simple recipe for steamed rhubarb and how he enjoys it with yogurt, you are reminded how the garden can and in order to be fully appreciated must be “integrated into your household and your life”.
As a writer, my favorite of his books aside from the Gardening How-Tos, is A French Garden Journey: A lovely personal journey through the many gardens of France – A French Garden Journey (2014).
6. Learn more about the plants, flowers, and edibles you love (and be introduced to new ones)
Sure you can pick up a book to answer questions you might have about different varietals, plants and vegetables or fruits, but seeing the plant actually growing during the time of year when it reaches its zenith, seeing what can be paired or partnered with it, seeing what can precede it or follow it, each episode weaves in kernels of wisdom, ideas and inspiration. Not only for someone who loves to garden, but for how we eat, what cut flowers we bring into our homes and when they will be at their peak flavor.
7. Seasonal tasks to tend to – an inspiring teacher and coach
I will admit, I absolutely enjoy the entire episode each week, but much like the Petit Plaisir at the end of my podcast, Monty’s Weekly Jobs list shared at the end of each episode is something I eagerly anticipate. “Okay Monty, what do I need to get to work on this weekend?” 🙂 As much as I would like to think I would remember in the years to come as I tend to my garden and see it mature, there is so much to remember and life is full with other things throughout the year not to forget. The regular bookend at the conclusion is a helpful planner of sorts keeping me and I have a feeling many other viewers on task to ensure the best potential for a lovely garden.
And did you hear? Monty Don updated his The Complete Gardener book this spring (see right) which was first published in 2003. Described as “the most comprehensive, practical, and highly illustrated book Monty has ever written, it covers what he believes are the most important aspects of gardening. Organic techniques have always been at the core of his practice, but this new edition picks up on another key principle: the need to provide habitats in your garden for local wildlife. Over half of the photographs in this new edition will be new, taken over a year in his Longmeadow garden, and he is going through the text with a fine-tooth comb to ensure everything he says reflects his latest approach.”
Recently, The New York Times spotlighted Gardeners World sharing how the show continued to produce a weekly episode throughout all of 2020 during the pandemic, and the amazing truth is they did. With robotic video cameras, a multitude of wires and other mechanisms to enable Monty to essentially film himself, the show went on, and I, like so many other viewers were incredibly grateful they figured how to record new episodes as we all spent more time in our gardeners last year. While I certainly fell in love with gardening last year and was given the time to really figure out how to begin gardening due to the pandemic, I cannot wait to continue with the hobby this year and aprés pandemic. As I shared in this post, 10 Things Gardening Can Teach Us About Living Well, gardening shifts living our quality of life in the best possible of ways. Helping us to become more present, more appreciative and yes, more patient, gardening most importantly for my life, brings me to a place of calm peace.
So, yep, I cannot wait for this Friday to roll around. Likely I will save the first episode as I do for all episodes until Saturday morning when I can watch with the sunrise, sip a hot cuppa and upon concluding the episode, hop up and head out into the garden to tend to my Weekend Jobs.
Wishing you wonderful moments in your own garden or however you spend time with Mother Nature savoring the seasons.
~Listen to Monty Don talk about the Health Benefits of Gardening in the premiere episode of Gardeners’ World podcast.
HOW TO WATCH:
~Read more TSLL Gardening posts here.
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