Monty Don’s French Gardens episode 3: In the last programme in the series, Monty Don turns to France’s famous artistic tradition to see what influence it has had on the country’s gardens.
Monty travels to some of the most celebrated artists’ gardens, including the one created by the impressionist Claude Monet, who planted and painted his garden for half his life. He also matches the paintings to the garden of Paul Cezanne, as well as visiting several contemporary artistic gardens to see how the use of plants and trees has evolved into new and varied styles.
He talks to gardeners about this style of planting which has been copied the world over. Monty also visits allotments, learns to pick asparagus, enjoys some of the best produce from the land and learns about the importance the French attach to the soil.
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 3
Fondation Monet in Giverny
The Gardens are divided into two distinctive parts, which have been restored according to Monet’s own specifications. The Clos-Normand was modelled after Monet’s own artistic vision when he settled in Giverny. He spent years transforming the garden into a living en plein air painting, planting thousands of flowers in straight-lined patterns.
In 1893 Monet acquired a vacant piece of land across the road from the Clos-Normand which he then transformed into a water garden by diverting water from the stream Ru, an arm of the Epte river. That garden became famous during his lifetime with his series of monumental paintings of its water lilies, the Nymphéas. The water garden is marked by Monet’s fascination for Japan, with its green Japanese bridge and oriental plants. The now famous water lilies were meticulously tended by a gardener employed for that sole purpose.