Monty Don has become one of the UK’s best known TV gardeners. Having presented the BBC’s flagship gardening programme, Gardeners’ World, since 2003, Monty will likely go down in horticultural history. Fans of his main rival and colleague, Alan Titchmarsh, argue Monty will always trail in popularity.
Yet, Monty in his own right has built up something of a cult following.
His career in mainstream gardening has lasted a stunning 17 years, with many more likely to follow.
Success, however, came at a great cost, not least to his family life.
During an interview with The Guardian ahead of the 2018 Chelsea Flower Shower, he revealed who he would like to “most say sorry to”.
He admitted he needed to apologise to his “children,” because he “was away an awful lot when they were little and not very good at being a father when I was around”.
He added: “I could have done better.”
During Monty’s children’s early years, life was stressful for both him and his wife Sarah.
The couple had a successful jewellery business in the high-end Knightsbridge area of London during the Eighties.
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Disillusioned with London life, however, the pair bought a house in the countryside.
This marked the beginning of their troubles.
Their previous London home had not sold, and there was still a business to run.
The business fell apart and Monty, almost ignoring the world around him, gardened their New Hereford home so relentlessly Sarah described him as having been “married” to it.
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A loan to buy a farm and subsequent crash of the business left Monty and his family in severe debt and near-bankruptcy.
For two years their unemployment was deep rooted.
At the end of a jobless season, Monty struck gold and managed a slot on a TV gardening segment in the early Nineties.
The family, Monty admitted in a 2016 Radio Times interview, nearly “lost everything”.
He said: “I still think about when we lost everything.
“Once you’ve had that experience, you know that what seems like an impregnable position can disappear overnight.
“Mine is a big operation to keep running, and it’s fuelled by me.
“That said, my mental health has been great the last few years.
“I am very well and happy. I have an incredibly good marriage and lovely children.
“I do a job that is jolly tiring and I work very hard, but I really enjoy it and I think I’m quite good at it.”
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