Monty Don unmasked: How Gardeners’ World icon revealed ‘big operation’ secret

Monty Don is one of, if not the best, known TV gardener in the UK. 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.

Every Friday he pops up onto screens across the UK, on the BBC’s flagship gardening show, Gardeners’ World.

He became the programme’s main host in 2003, working alongside the likes of Titchmarsh and others.

He’s presented it ever since, a career with the BBC spanning 17 years.

Then, in 2011, Monty started presenting from the comfort of his Herefordshire home.

It wasn’t that difficult for him to make the change, given his sweeping garden and acres of land.

Other avenues have seen Monty presenting the Chelsea Flower Show.

He became one of the show’s main presenters in 2014.

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His role was, however, momentarily disrupted amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The show was forced to abandon its regular proceedings and, instead, featured competitors presenting their displays from their households.

It was a devastating blow as many had been preparing for the show for well over a year.

Monty quite literally has a finger in every horticultural pie, though, and all of this makes for quite the hectic life when juggling the needs of a thriving family.


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In the Nineties, before his broadcasting fame, Monty nearly lost it all; he nearly went bankrupt.

This experience led to a realisation that things must be in order should one expect success.

His propulsion to triumph, he explained during a 2016 Radio Times interview, has taught him that his life is one “big operation” that needs maintaining.

He explained: “Once you’ve had that experience (nearly going bankrupt), 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.”

The story of Monty’s near downfall is remarkable.

In the Eighties, he and his wife Sarah set up a costume jewellery business.

Disillusioned with London living and the weight of a business, Monty and Sarah jumped ship and bought a house in Herefordshire with land.

This was the beginning of their troubles.

Their previous London home had not sold, and there was still a business to be 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.

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.

It was from here that he managed to work his way to success, and became the Monty we know today.

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