Monty Don in 2007
|Born||Montagu Denis Wyatt Don
8 July 1955
|Residence||Ivington, Herefordshire, England, UK|
|Alma mater||Magdalene College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Television presenter, gardener, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Sarah Don (1983–present)|
|Children||2 sons, 1 daughter|
|Parents||Denis Don (deceased)
Janet (née Wyatt, deceased)
Monty Don was born in Berlin, to British parents, Denis T. K. Don, a career soldier posted in Germany, and Janet Montagu (née Wyatt). Both parents died in the 1980s. Don has a twin sister, an elder brother David, and two other siblings. His twin suffered a broken neck, aged 19.
Both his paternal grandmother and grandfather were Scottish, through whom he is descended from the Keiller family of Dundee, inventors of chip marmalade in 1797. Meanwhile, on his maternal side, he is descended from the Wyatts, who were a prominent dynasty of architects.
Don was educated at three independent schools: Quidhampton School in Basingstoke, Hampshire, Bigshotte School in Wokingham, Berkshire, and at Malvern College in Malvern, Worcestershire, a college he hated. He then attended a state comprehensive school, the Vyne School, in Hampshire. He failed his A levels and while studying for re-takes at night school, worked on a building site and a pig farm by day. During his childhood he had become an avid gardener and farmer. He determined to go to Cambridge out of "sheer bloody-mindedness", attending Magdalene College, where he read English and met his future wife Sarah.
In the 1980s, Don and his wife formed a successful company that made and sold costume jewellery under the name Monty Don Jewellery. The collapse of the company in the early 1990s prompted him to embark on a career in writing and broadcasting. He has written about the rise and collapse of their business in The Jewel Garden, an autobiographical book written with his wife. "We were lambs to the slaughter and we lost everything, [...] we lost our house, our business. We sold every stick of furniture we had at Leominster market,” he wrote. He was unemployed from 1991 to 1993.
Don's first TV work came as the presenter of a gardening segment on breakfast show This Morning. He featured as a guest presenter for the BBC's Holiday programme. He went on to present several Channel 4 land and gardening series: Don Roaming, Fork to Fork, Real Gardens and Lost Gardens, and wrote a regular weekly gardening column for The Observer between February 1994 and May 2006. Don had never received formal training as a gardener. He commented, "I was – am – an amateur gardener and a professional writer. My only authority came from a lifetime of gardening and a passion amounting to an obsession for my own garden." He is a keen proponent of organic gardening and the practice of organic techniques, to some extent, features in all of his published work. The organic approach is most prominent in his 2003 book The Complete Gardener.
Don was the main presenter on BBC Two's Gardeners' World from 2003 to 2008 succeeding Alan Titchmarsh. He was the first self-taught horticulturist presenter in the show's 36-year history, stepping down only after suffering a minor stroke.After viewing figures for Gardener's World fell below two million for the first time in 2009, in January 2010, changes were announced to the programme in an attempt to entice viewers back. In December 2010, it was announced that Don would be returning to the programme as lead presenter for the 2011 series, replacing Toby Buckland. Reaction to the announcement was divided on the programme's blog. Since March 2011 he has been presenting the programme from his own garden (called Longmeadow) in Herefordshire.
Don featured in the BBC programme and book, Growing out of Trouble, in which several heroin addicts manage a 6-acre (24,000 m2) Herefordshire smallholding in an attempt at rehabilitation. He also presented Around the World in 80 Gardens (BBC Two 27 January – 30 March 2008) and in December 2008, narrated a programme about the cork oak forests of Portugal, for the BBC's natural history series Natural World. He presented My Dream Farm, a series which helped people learn to become successful smallholders (Channel 4, January 2010) and Mastercrafts, a six-part series for BBC Two, which celebrated six traditional British crafts. He has twice been a panellist on the BBC's Question Time (February 2009 and March 2010) and his family history was the subject of the fourth programme in the seventh series of the BBC genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are? (August 2010). In April 2011 Don presented Italian Gardens, a four-part BBC2 series which was accompanied by the publication of a book.
In 2013, Don presented an episode of Great British Garden Revival.
Don and Sarah married in 1983 and have three children. The couple lived in Islington, North London while Don pursued postgraduate study at the London School of Economics, worked as a waiter at Joe Allen restaurant in Covent Garden and later as a dustman, and completed two unpublished novels. Meanwhile Sarah trained as a jeweller.
Don has written of his struggle with depression since the age of 25 and Seasonal Affective Disorder. He describes in his memoir "great spans of muddy time" in which there is nothing but depression. He noted "'Earth heals me better than any medicine". He has had cognitive behavioural therapy and took Prozac before favouring a lightbox, now a recognised aid for Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers. He had peritonitis in 2007 and a minor stroke in 2008.
He lives near Ivington, Herefordshire, England, and has lived in Herefordshire for over 20 years.
- 1990: The Prickotty Bush
- 1995: The Weekend Gardener
- 1997: The Sensuous Garden
- 1998: Gardening Mad
- 2003: The Complete Gardener
- 2003: From the Garden to the Table: Growing, Cooking, and Eating Your Own Food
- 2004: The Jewel Garden (Hodder & Stoughton), with Sarah Don
- 2005: Gardening From Berryfields
- 2006: Fork to Fork
- 2006: Growing out of Trouble
- 2006: My Roots: A Decade in the Garden
- 2008: Around the World in 80 Gardens
- 2009: The Ivington Diaries
- 2010: My Dream Farm
- 2011: Italian Gardens
- 2013: The Road to Le Tholonet
- "He gave up his jewels but found gold in the garden". The Times Online (London). 29 October 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- Who Do You Think You Are?
- "Feuds, shipwrecks and marmalade millionaires: Monty Don digs up his family secrets" 30 July 2010
- "Green fingers, silver tongue". Observer article 25 May 2008
- Sale, Jonathan (2 December 1999). "Passed/Failed: Monty Don". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009.
- "Meet Monty Don". UKTV Gardens. Retrieved 22 May 2008.
- Kellaway, Kate (8 March 2009). "The interview: Monty Don". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- Don, Monty (28 May 2006). "Through the garden gate". The Observer (London). Retrieved 11 July 2008.
- "TV gardener Monty Don has stroke". BBC. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
- Hardy, Rebecca (28 February 2011). 'It’ll take more than a stroke to hold me back'. The Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- Smyth, Chris (12 January 2010). Gardeners’ World going back to its roots after gimmicky makeover, say producers. The Times. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- Richardson, Tim (12 January 2010). Gardeners' World: BBC goes back to basics. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- Singh, Anita (7 December 2010). Monty Don returning to Gardeners' World. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "Buckland to host Gardeners' World". BBC. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
- Pasco, Adam (7 December 2010). Monty Don returns to Gardeners’ World. Gardeners' musings (Gardener's World official blog). www.gardenersworld.com.
- Cavendish, Lucy (8 March 2013). "Monty Don: My garden has come into itself, for better or for worse". Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Natural World: Cork – Forest in a Bottle". The NatureWatch. 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2008.[dead link]
- My dream farm
- "My Dream Farm, Channel 4, review". The Daily Telegraph (London). 22 January 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
- BBC Mastercrafts
- "The Italian Job" by Monty Don, Daily Mail Weekend magazine, Weekend Gardening section. 12.03.2011.
- "Monty Don’s Italian Campaign". The Daily Telegraph, by Monty Don, 11 March 2011.
- Don, Monty (22 February 2004). "Now we are 10". The Observer (London). Retrieved 11 July 2008.
- Official Monty Don website
- BBC pages
- Monty Don at the Internet Movie Database
- Who Do You Think You Are page
- The Monty Project
- Social Enterprise Ambassadors
- Monty Don's Final Observer Column
- Video Interview with Monty Don
- Around the World in 80 Gardens.
- Times Interview with Monty Don May 2007.