I opened my copy of the February, 2020 Gardeners’ World Magazine and there it was: more about Monty Don’s visit to the US last year.
Yet, those of us who love gardens and gardening in the US still can’t see the series except for what people in the UK load on YouTube and a website called HDClump:
Yes Monty, too many Americans don’t garden. Development has gobbled up open space and more and more Americans move into apartments, townhouses, and other Stepford Wife communities where in a lot of cases, even if you wanted to garden, you can’t . Seriously, some homeowners associations kind of forbid it.
So maybe just maybe it would be helpful if this could be seen across the US on steaming like Gardeners’ World?
Now the program has gotten a write up in a couple of garden blogs:
Cue the swelling music, and then …
Count on hearing those superlatives and more over the course of Monty Don’s three-part American Gardens, which aired on the BBC earlier this month and can be seen stateside here and on other sites. A book is on the way.
As Don states in the intro to each hour-long episode, he’s trying to define the American garden, though doubting from the outset that this is possible….Don sticks mainly to large public gardens, some well-known private gardens, and a couple community gardens. In my view, this dooms the entire mission. Is it possible for places like Longwood, Chanticleer…. to represent American gardening practice?
….I cried watching a gardening television show. Not during the reveal of some kind of makeover for a deserving family. Nope. I cried watching Monty Don talk about American gardens.
Let me back up a bit. For those who are unfamiliar, Monty Don is perhaps the most well-known gardener in the world. He has been the host of the wonderful “Gardeners’ World” television show on BBC (in the UK) for 16 years and has done countless other specials on gardening and written several books as well as writing regularly for several publications. He is a gardener’s gardener…So when I found out via Instagram that Monty was coming to the U.S. for a three-part series on American gardens, I not only tried to figure out a way to stalk him, I started counting down until the moment I could watch them…Why was I so excited about this series? Because I desperately want Monty’s approval. It is absurd to think of a person who doesn’t know you exist as a type of mentor, but I do. And while I would be horrified to have Monty in my garden (if he didn’t like it, and I doubt he would, I would simply wither).
Ok I am somewhere in the middle of these two garden writers. As much as I adore Monty Don and what he does for the practice and love of gardening, he was to my American sensibilities a little meh at times during what I have been able to see of the American Gardens series. Mostly because sometimes he seemed to talk over some of the people he was talking to. (But hey, even I do that, especially if it’s something I feel passionate about.)
I too, tried my best to finagle a way to see him film live especially at Chanticleer in Wayne, PA.
And I do love both Chanticleer and Longwood, but Monty Don is not wrong about them being over the top because they are. They are show gardens after all aren’t they?
But they aren’t truly representative of how we American gardeners garden, and from what I have seen of the series I wish he had indeed visited some other and regular gardens like they do on Gardeners’ World’s TV show because I for one have learned from these everyday gardeners and find them just as inspirational as big public gardens.
I did not cry however at this program. I was thrilled he was here, I have pre-ordered a copy of the book which will also come out of this visit, but what would be really nice is if we could just easily view the series.
I do think while Monty Don alluded correctly to the lawn obsession in lieu of a garden here in the US, to me that is not a garden or gardening… it’s a lawn. Often propped up by chemicals and obsessed over. I love my neighbors, but with a couple of the men where I live, it seems to be this unspoken competition of the lawn. Mowing it, blowing leaves off of it, getting it treated. If one comes out, the other then comes out.
Me? Part of me wonders if I maybe someday want to get rid of what is left of my lawn?? I know my neighbors look at me like I am crazy because I garden, garden, garden. All year round pretty much. And essentially most of the neighborhood women do not garden. The lawns are the purview of the men folk, but the wives except for me don’t really garden.
Would I love to host Monty Don in my American garden? Well yes, because my current garden does draw a lot of inspiration from British and Irish gardens. But I would not wither away if he or others for that matter didn’t love my garden. I would probably be seriously annoyed at the nerve of not adoring my garden if anything.
Gardening for me, is like my writing. I do both for me. Not others. Does that make me selfish? I don’t think so, it’s merely what I like to do for myself. But I am happy to share my gardens with people sometimes which is why I like the British tradition of “open garden days”. It’s nice to see what your neighbors are doing.
I think in general more people should garden. I think Monty Don is a garden influencer. I just wish he would’ve visited some gardens of more ordinary people and other American gardener influencers.
I would have also sent him to Brandywine Cottage (David Culp The Layered Garden) ; to Oyster Bay, NY to see the gardens of the late Suzy Bales as the property is for sale and who knows exactly how the gardens will survive under future owners; and finally Northview Gardens the personal gardens of Jenny Rose Carey (author of Glorious Shade and the Executive Director of Meadowbrook Farm a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society property.)
All of these people are also garden influencers of American gardeners in my humble opinion. And I think British gardeners might have been interested but whatever, not my program to film.
So as this post draws to a close like a meandering garden path I wonder….who are your garden influencers? Leave me a comment!