Monty Don: Gardeners’ World host opens up on difficult time with wife ‘We lost everything’

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Monty Don, 70, shared with that he and his wife Sarah Don, became “lambs to the slaughter” after their jewellery company went bankrupt in 1987. The gardening expert ended up surviving on dole money throughout the early 1990s after the stock market crash took all of their life’s savings.

We were lambs to the slaughter

Monty Don

Monty recalled: “We were lambs to the slaughter and we lost everything, we lost our house, our business. We sold every stick of furniture we had.”

Following the closure of the business, Monty published his first book The Jewel Garden in 2004.

The premise for the novel stemmed from the couple’s commercial failure and told the story of their early days living at Longmeadow.

In Jewel Garden, Monty relived how he and Sarah had transformed the muddy fields around the Tudor farmhouse.

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3 years ago on this day Sarah and I were celebrating our son Adam’s marriage to Emily. On the same day 37 years ago we were married too.

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Monty also shared in-depth how the outdoors saved him from the abyss of mental health.

After losing all their money, Monty was forced to survive off Government benefits for a number of years, which has inspired his incredible work ethic since, including authoring books and fronting on Gardeners’ World.

However, the star acknowledged that he is now in a privileged position these days, as he pointed out how many have lost work as a result of COVID-19.

He said: “No question, I am very lucky. I lost half my filming work this year but ­compared to most people I’ve had a very, very easy time of it.

“Most years I have another fulfilling ­project. Last year it was America [for the new book and accompanying documentary], before that I went to Japan, India and Iraq and before that Morocco and Spain and Turkey. 

“This is the first time since 2011 that I haven’t had something else on the go that has taken me away.”

The TV presenter also recently spoke about the depression which has impacted his life and also afflicted his late father Denis.

Monty described his father as being a “frightening figure” and worried at times his dad would take his own life when he struggled through “deep depressive fits”.

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His father had served in the armed forces and had previously “killed people”, although the gardening expert shared that he was not an “aggressive” person by nature.

Monty explained: “He was an army heavyweight boxing champion and a commando and had been through the war.

“He had killed people. He was not in any way aggressive but it was a latent … He was a scary man. 

“You didn’t mess with him and he had these deep depressive fits when he wouldn’t talk to anyone, “ he added to The Times.

As Monty reached his teenage years he began to fear his father was close to suicide.

“I remember my mother telling me to go take the bolt out of the gun so he couldn’t shoot himself.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is quite heavy’, but doing it. With hindsight, I don’t think he would have shot himself.”

Gardeners’ World airs on BBC One today at 9pm.

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