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Monty Don, one of the UK’s most famous television gardeners, recently lost one of his best friends, Nigel the dog. The pair were inseparable. Nigel often made cameo appearances during Monty’s presenting slot on BBC Gardeners’ World.
He became something of a celebrity in his own right.
In fact several times Monty suggested Nigel had become a more famous figure than himself.
Unfortunately, Nigel passed away earlier this year, towards the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.
It came as Monty was putting the finishing touches on his new book, ‘My Garden World’.
Nigel, 12 when he passed away, was a recurring theme throughout the book; his spirit being the foundation of its narrative.
His death, then, was doubly hard to swallow.
Writing in his book, Monty explained the “outrage” he felt at Nigel’s funeral; the anger he felt while burying his best friend.
He wrote: “We buried him in the coppice with 50 yellow tennis balls, his bowl full of an extra big helping of food, lots of biscuits and a bunch of flowers that this May garden could provide.
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“I have buried five dogs now and the worst bit – the outrage, the bit that rips through you – is that first shovel of soil over the body.
“But it was done, and a socking great stone set above him with foxgloves, anemones and primroses planted all around it.”
Monty added: “Then there is the slow, hollow grief of losing a dear friend, and just the raw process of getting used to the expectation that he will come plodding round the corner or be lying in his bed. The emptiness.”
Monty didn’t announce the news of Nigel’s death until the following week.
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On hearing the news, Monty was bombarded with condolences by his followers around the world.
Monty has since relentlessly promoted his book and, with it, Nigel’s memory.
In a recent Times interview, he told of his last moments with Nigel.
With the death being so unexpected, he said: “The only good thing is that he had a long life, a happy life, and no illness.
“He suddenly started fitting one night and it got worse and worse and he had a brain tumour and that was it.
“He had gone to bed happy and was dead by midday the next day.
“It wasn’t slow or drawn out.”
It was, Monty explained, the sort of death we all hope for.
He continued: “It’s a proper bereavement.
“It’s true love and, as with losing anyone you love, it’s real grief.”
My Garden World was published on 17 September by Two Roads and is avaliable here.
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