Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It

Monty Don’s 80 Plant Cultures of the World

Monty Don has been getting an unusual amount of attention lately in the U.S., thanks to his provocative article “There’s no point trying to convince millennials to garden. Nobody wants to hear that but I suspect he’s right.

So who IS this guy? Here’s a quick bio on BBC 2’s website for their show “Gardener’s World.” 


Interesting guy, right? Here’s more.

He loves hedges, woodland, topiary, vegetables, fruit and all plants that capture a season, mood or spirit of place. He loathes houseplants, begonias and horticultural pedantry. His favourite gardeners are Derek Jarman, Juan Grimm, Jacques Wirtz, Fernando Caruncho and his wife Sarah. His favourite garden jobs are planting and cutting anything from grass to logs.

Just reading that, I want to look up all those gardeners his loves and then find out where I can watch Monty in action, which coincidentally I did a couple of months ago while browsing YouTube.

I discovered his 10-episode show “Around the World in 80 Gardens,” which is MUCH more interesting than that title had me expecting. Instead of seeing 80 famous gardens, viewers see and hear his interesting takes on plant cultures around the world, both ancient and present-day.

Episode 1 here covers Mexico – its wide range of flora, marigolds in the Day of the Dead festivals, how Aztecs gardened, floating gardens, planting in mud, plus spectacular gardens there today. In Monty’s words, the show is about people’s relationships to plants and it’s “challenging my idea of what a garden is.”

Contrasting Mexican gardens

Monty’s a terrific guide, thoughtful and enthusiastic but not afraid to criticize occasionally. (In one garden he’s upset by the “kitsch”).

I also watched Episode 5 here about the U.S., as I was dying to see how he tackled it. Curiously, I’d say. He visits a grand garden on Long Island, a New York City community garden, Central Park, a park in Queens, the Maryland garden of James van Sweden, Monticello, the Kansas prairie, California’s Huntington Garden and some over-the-top private gardens in Hollywood.

Beyond North America there’s lots more of the world – and Monty – available online. I’m saving these episodes for a cold night in January.

2: Australia and New Zealand.

3: India.

4: South America.

6: Japan and China.

7: The Mediterranean region

8: South Africa.

9: Northern Europe.

10: Southeast Asia.

Posted by on August 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm, in the category Unusually Clever People, Watch Someone Else Do It.
Comments are off for this post

7 responses to “Monty Don’s 80 Plant Cultures of the World”

  1. To be fair, “There’s no point trying to convince millennials to garden” was pretty much a clickbait title which I’m doubting Monty had anything to do with. The article pretty much just says that most teenagers aren’t that interested in gardening – and having their parents/teachers try to force the issue won’t help.

    I absolutely love the Around the World in 80 Gardens series. The Mexican gardens are stunning – it’s amazing how little we hear about Mexican, Central & South American gardens here in the US. I thought the American gardens episode was fairly representative of the diversity of US gardens. Although nothing on the southeast…anybody else?

    • Misti says:

      That and the current young teenagers aren’t millenials at all, they are iGen or Gen Z or something that hasn’t quite caught on. There are plenty of actual millenials gardening by the looks I see on Instagram.

      • Sarah says:

        Some Millennials garden and some do not garden. Just like some Boomers garden and some do not. I wasn’t into it when I was young, but by the time I was in high school I was proactive about trying to make a beautiful space in my parents’ yard.

  2. hmmm…..millenials and gardening.

    need to look to get my nephews out in the garden. I think the only place these kids get their exercise is through going to the gym.

    Thanks for the article. Just what I was searching for my work.

  3. Jennifer says:

    *horticultural pedantry *

    Love it! Will check him out!

  4. Jodie Cook says:

    I subscribe to commercial free YouTube Red ONLY because I want to see Monty Don amble around his personal garden hosting BBC’s ‘Gardeners World’, now in its 50th year on the ‘telly’. Watching is joyful, satisfying, interesting and intensely inspiring to see that somewhere there is an alive and well gardening culture even if here in Southern California it is in its death throes.

    It gives me hope and a reason continue to yell from the rooftops, ‘get out there and grow something, people!’ There are innumerable personal and public benefits to getting outside and puttering around…Let’s start with calling it a ‘garden’ and not a ‘yard!’ Who the heck wants to be in a ‘yard?’ Who doesn’t want to be in a garden? I would invite everyone commenting on or writing on GardenRant to take a stand and start calling a garden a garden (…unless its filled with gravel in which case it should be called a yard.)

  5. Anne Craig says:

    You just lost all gardening credibility by not knowing who Monty Don is! Remember the world is bigger than the U.S.