Monty Don’s French Gardens episode 1: Monty Don tells the stories behind France’s most important historic gardens. These include elaborate walled gardens designed to please the mistress – and then the wife – of a king, magnificent displays of flowers and fountains that involved thousands of soldiers moving tracts of land and incited violent jealousy in another monarch, and a modern-day chateau garden that came close to bankrupting its owner.
Monty sees how throughout history the French have used gardens as a public expression of money, power and passion.
Montagu Denis Wyatt “Monty” Don OBE (born George Montagu Don; 8 July 1955) is a British broadcaster and writer on horticulture who is best known as lead presenter of the BBC gardening television series Gardeners’ World since 2003.
Born in Germany and raised in England, Don studied at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he met his future wife. They ran a successful costume jewellery business through the 1980s; however, the stock market crash of 1987 ended it in almost complete bankruptcy. Don made his television debut in 1989 as a regular on This Morning, which led to further presenting work across the decade, including his own shows for BBC Television and Channel 4. Don began his writing career at this time and published his first of over 25 books, in 1990. Between 1994 and 2006, Don wrote a weekly gardening column in The Observer.
In 2003 Don replaced Alan Titchmarsh as the lead presenter of Gardeners’ World, only leaving the show between 2008 and 2011 due to illness. Since then he has written and produced several garden series of his own; the most recent being Monty Don’s American Gardens which was aired in 2020.
Monty Don’s French Gardens episode 1
A formal garden is a garden with a clear structure, geometric shapes and in most cases a symmetrical layout. Its origin goes back to the gardens which are located in the desert areas of Western Asia and are protected by walls. The style of a formal garden is reflected in the Persian gardens of Iran, and the monastic gardens from the Late Middle Ages. It has found its continuation in the Italian Renaissance gardens and has culminated in the French formal gardens from the Baroque period. Through its design, the garden conveys a sense of established order and transparency to the observer.
In garden design, the formal garden is said to be the opposite to the landscape garden, which follows nature and which came into fashion in the 18th century.