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Gardener and presenter Monty Don comes to Essex

PUBLISHED: 15:07 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:07 02 May 2017

Monty Don

Monty Don

Archant

As gardener and broadcaster Monty Don makes a rare forage into Essex to open The National Flower Show at Hylands House in Chelmsford, Essex Life caught up with the UK’s most famous gardener

Stunning floral displays Stunning floral displays

Monty Don has been a familiar face on our TV screens for more than 25 years. One of the UK’s best-known garden writers and broadcasters, Monty fronts the BBC’s flagship gardening programme Gardeners’ World and also presents the corporation’s coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show each year.

For the past six years he has invited Gardeners’ World viewers into his own garden at Longmeadow in Herefordshire for a relaxed and intimate show that has proved highly popular. But this month, Monty makes one of his rare forages into Essex when he comes to Chelmsford to officially open the National Flower Show which takes place at the wonderful Hylands House & Estate from May 19 to 21.

Monty says: ‘I’m not really familiar with Essex as I live on the other side of the country and spend so much of my time at Longmeadow due to my TV commitments, and it is also the place where I love to be. However, I was delighted to be able to accept the invitation to open The National Flower Show and I look forward to seeing the magnificent Hylands House and its park lands.’

A self-taught gardener who loves hedges, woodland, topiary, vegetables, fruit and all plants that capture a season, mood or spirit of place, Monty confesses he loathes houseplants, begonias and horticultural pedantry.

Monty Don Monty Don

Instead, Monty takes his inspiration from some of the great garden designers. ‘Fernando Carruncho, Jaques Wirtz, Nicole de Vesian and Juan Grim are all designers who have inspired me,’ Monty explains, and he says he has also learned from Essex’s own gardening superstar, Beth Chatto. ‘We have met on a few occasions, which has always been a great pleasure, and I have learnt – and relearn – from her books which I refer to constantly,’ adds Monty.

So is it always easy for Monty to find that inspiration to be out in the garden? What happens on a murky day in February? ‘On grey, wet days I adjourn to the potting shed. When it is wet, I never garden outside because all that does is create mud here. But I do love working in the potting shed on a rainy day.’

Monty, whose favourite garden jobs are planting and cutting anything, from grass to logs, lives at Longmeadow with his wife Sarah, who he met while both were studying at Cambridge University.

In the 1980s, Monty and Sarah ran a costume jewellery business from a shop in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, selling Sarah’s designs of stunning dragonflies, flowers and butterflies to high profile customers including Boy George, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana. However, every Sunday they would swap bling for a wheelbarrow, creating a garden in Hackney. Before long they moved to the country and to the Hanburies, a derelict farm in Herefordshire, bought with a bridging loan.

Hylands House in Chelmsford Hylands House in Chelmsford

He proudly includes his wife’s name in his list of personal favourite gardeners and the couple have collaborated to jointly write several books.

Monty, who describes himself as, ‘an amateur gardener and professional writer’ has also had numerous books published under his own name and has been a successful national newspaper columnist for many years, currently writing for the Daily Mail. He has also appeared on a host of prime-time television shows.

He will officially open The National Flower Show on Friday, May 19 and will also give a talk at Hylands House that day, offering sage gardening advice to visitors. Two lucky Essex Life readers have also won the chance to meet and chat with Monty at the show through the magazine’s competition in the March issue.

The National Flower Show will have hundreds of exhibitors offering an abundance of outdoor, home and garden shopping opportunities, and when your need for refreshment outstrips your hunger for horticulture, you can head to the Fine Food and Drink Festival to discover a tempting array of delicious food and drink from both home and abroad.

Monty Monty

It’s the perfect place to find inspiration for your own homes and gardens, and a great day out for the family as your National Flower Show ticket also gains entry to Hylands House and its stunning estate and gardens.

Show director Matthew Upson adds: ‘We are delighted to be bringing The National Flower Show to Hylands House & Estate for our third and best year yet. We are very happy to welcome one of the UK’s most well-known and popular gardeners in Monty Don, who will open our show, helping us to celebrate the achievements of all of our exhibitors.’

Find out more

For more information or to book discounted advance tickets to The National Flower Show, visit www.nationalflowershow.co.uk.

Hylands House is a stunning, Grade II* listed property, spectacularly restored to its former glory and situated in 574 acres of historic landscaped park land.

The brief Monty:

Life story

1955: Born Montagu Denis Wyatt Don in Berlin, son of an army officer, and the youngest of five children.

1979: At Magdalene College, Cambridge, meets his future wife, Sarah, with whom he elopes. They have three children.

1981: He and Sarah found a costume jewellery business in Kensington and come to count Elton John and Princess Diana among their clients.

1989: He makes his television debut on This Morning in a five-minute gardening slot with Richard and Judy.

2003: Succeeding Alan Titchmarsh, Don becomes the first amateur gardener to front Gardeners’ World.

2008: Publishes Around the World in 80 Gardens, his 12th gardening title. Becomes president of the Soil Association and takes a break from Gardeners’ World.

2011: Monty presents the BBC series Monty’s Italian Gardens and returns to Gardeners’ World, this time presenting the show from his garden in Herefordshire

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