Monty Don - 5 things you didn't know

The much-loved gardening broadcaster and writer was born in Germany in 1955 – the youngest of five siblings - and christened Montagu Denis Wyatt Don.  He is married to Sarah and has three grown up children and one grandson, ‘George Jack Don’.  He has written over 25 books and numerous newspaper articles, but is best known as a presenting BBC’s Gardeners' World, which is currently enjoying its best viewing figures in 10 years.  Here are a few things you may not know about the nation’s favourite horticulturalist.

  1. Monty wanted to be a rock star in his teens.  ‘There was nothing I wanted more, there really wasn’t,’ he once said in an interview for The Independent.  He still plays the guitar and in a recent FT interview cited ‘expensive guitars that I play badly’ as his biggest extravagance.
  1. The self-confessed black sheep of the family, Monty says he was a naughty boy at school, putting ‘nettles down the girls’ knickers’ and ‘tying people up’.  But after a chequered school career, he took his A Levels at night school and aged 21 got into Cambridge University to read English Literature, where he thrived.
  1. He met his wife Sarah at Cambridge and during the 80s the pair set up a successful costume jewellery business, but lost ‘everything’ when it folded during the financial crash.
  1. It is no secret that Monty has been dogged by depression, a condition he has learnt to manage over the years.  He also suffered a stroke in 2008, but says he’s generally in good health apart from his knees – something that’s very annoying for a gardener!  ‘One of them needs replacing — it’s painful — and the other one is dodgy,’ he’s reported to have said.
  1. His favourite plant is a primrose.  ‘It appears early when I’m emerging from my own winter blues and it gives me real hope,’ he said.  Other favourite things include Rembrandt's portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels bathing in a stream (in the National Gallery) - ‘It is the most tender, love-saturated painting ever’ - and the song ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by the Beatles.