Everybody's a Critic, Watch Someone Else Do It

Monty Don Shines on Netflix

When next-door neighbors combine their front gardens – before and after.

Good news! England’s beloved gardening guru Monty Don is now streaming on Netflix with his make-over show Big Dreams Small Spaces. Currently just Season 2 is streaming – six 1-hour episodes, each covering two gardens.

Unlike the outdoor make-over shows that HGTV’s programming has devolved to, it’s the right kind of make-over show, produced by people who really know gardening and aren’t trying to fool anyone about how easy it is.  I love this show because:

  • Homeowners do all the work themselves, with Monty coaching them every step of the way. First they share their own ideas with Monty and his reaction is possibly the most instructive part of the show. I found his focus on paths particularly helpful – their importance, choosing a route that feels natural, and creating a destination.
  • Next we follow the homeowners as they visit gardens that Monty suggests they see for ideas – gardens chosen based on the style of garden they (think) they want. (Monty may then tell them they’ve just chosen the most difficult style possible.)
  • The make-overs take place over a whole season or even a year. This longer-term perspective is emphasized throughout, with Monty declaring that gardens are never finished, and that garden’s aren’t a place but a journey.
  • So viewers can learn a TON about creating garden spaces they really enjoy. Very good teaching is going on here.
  • The big “reveal” at the end doesn’t show the homeowners their new instant garden. Here they’re showing the results of their hard work to friends, family and neighbors – with Monty popping in to everyone’s delight.

  • Monty asks about the available funds up front, and by the end of the show we’re told how much was actually spent – surprisingly little in some cases.
  • The gardens, many in back of rowhouses, are truly small.
  • Monty’s super-smart but always positive and encouraging with these beginner gardeners. He’s a doll.

Monty says gardens are about PEOPLE.

Stray observations

  • Monty Don is obviously famous in the U.K. like no gardening guru has ever been in the U.S.  We’re talking Tom Hanks-type famous. And I can see why – I fall for his charms, too – but the much larger audience for garden gurus in the U.K. is apparent.
  • Homeowners selected for the show represent a variety of human stories – sisters or neighbors working together, or people coping with adversity. I guess the human story is popular with viewers but I’m old enough for the adversity stories to remind me of the show “Queen for a Day,” and not in a good way.
  • One interesting garden advice from Monty is that “No garden needs more than seven plants,” which he later admits isn’t strictly true but I found intriguing.

Posted by on March 30, 2018 at 9:02 am, in the category Everybody's a Critic, Watch Someone Else Do It.
14 Comments

14 responses to “Monty Don Shines on Netflix”

  1. Linus says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I saw some of the episodes from the first season. I thought the show was ok (I really enjoyed though his “Around the World in 80 Gardens”). Maybe he can do a follow-up of some of the first season gardens?

  2. I’d love to see more of Monty Don’s work on Netflix, starting with Gardener’s World!

  3. Judy H says:

    I just found it and finished up the series. Wish there were more. I will be creating my own garden when we buy a house in the next year and a lot of his advise I have been writing down. I haven’t been much of a planner in the past, but I can see I need to plan more, work smarter (and cheaper).

  4. Mary says:

    I found this show last month and watched all the episodes within a week. I loved that each garden and each garden story was very different. I also liked that the homeowners were the key players in the creation of the gardens and not just brought in at the end to cry when they saw a garden installed by somebody else. I thought many of the homeowners were surprisingly creative and talented, too. Why oh why can’t we have a better gardening culture in this country???

  5. Joan Kutcher says:

    Thanks for telling us about the show.I adore Monty Don, and watch Gardeners World on Youtube. We have much to learn from British gardeners.

  6. Susan says:

    That makes me wish I had Netflix. Sigh. YouTube for me. And ‘Queen For A Day”?? Now, THAT’S a blast from the past (watched it many a sick day in early grade school). Yes, I’m old too!

  7. Louise says:

    I watched it and am now dreaming of a path and creating a better garden. Instead of plants like a picture frame, I will try to reduce lawn and create spaces. I will watch Monti Don on YouTube, next!

  8. Monty Don is a delightful garden show host. I admire his patience with each gardener and I believe he delivers some very solid design and horticultural advice. As a complement to his show, I have also watched (on Netflix) ‘Love Your Garden’ with Alan Titchmarsh. I found it equally delightful and more informative for a landscape designer.

  9. Heather says:

    I’ve recently discovered this show and have enjoyed it for the same reasons – they are small-scale, done by the home owners, show the process, and we get to visit some gardens with them!

  10. Mara says:

    Love the garden as a journey concept. So true and so what makes gardening interesting. For the gardener that is…

  11. Kate says:

    I saw this series recently when I was sick at home, and was so gaga for Monty and his approach that I immediately signed up for Hortus TV (like a netflix for gardeners) and there is so much more that he has done! Highly recommend.

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