‘I need the earth’ Monty Don on how gardening helped with his depression recovery

Monty Don discusses suffering with mental health difficulties

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BBC viewers were given a tour around RHS Chelsea Flower Show on Wednesday evening as Monty Don presented coverage of the famous horticultural event. This year, for the first time in its 108-year history the iconic event is being held in the autumn. During the programme, Monty took a look at how people’s mental health can benefit from gardening and opened up about his own personal experiences.

Monty began the show, sat down in a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and said to viewers: “I’ll tell you a story.

“Many years ago when I was in my twenties and living in London and leading a life that seemingly was exciting and glamorous I found myself getting iller and iller in a very unspecified way.

“I was getting more and more depressed. I saw lots of doctors and they found nothing wrong with me at all.”

“Then someone recommended that I go and see this Chinese doctor,” he revealed.

The gardening expert explained: “He was an old man and he listened carefully to me, did a few tests, and then after a week or two he said ‘I have the answer’.

“‘I can make you well. You must give up your job, you must leave London and you must go back to the land’.

“In fact, I didn’t, it took a year or two, but eventually I realised he was right.”

“I need the earth, I need to plant things with my hands to feel well, to be well in my own mind,” Monty confessed.

The presenter went on to detail how the flower show reminded him of the positive effect gardening can have on an individual’s mental wellbeing.

He said: “Here at Chelsea surrounded by all these incredible plants, and the brilliant design and the prize-winning vegetables, sometimes we can forget that actually gardening is personal.

“It’s not for other people and it’s so important for our wellbeing,” Monty added.

He told viewers: “On today’s programme we’re going to look at the ways that gardening and gardens are so important to so many of us for our mental health and wellbeing.”

After hearing Monty open up about his own personal experiences with depression, several viewers took to Twitter to praise the gardening pro.

“Monty. You’re making us cry. Wonderful words. @TheMontyDon #RHSChelsea,” @MsRoseCavalier commented.

@mrobertaw said: “Loving watching the Chelsea flower show, hearing about how gardening boosts our mental health. Grateful for mine as many don’t have one #chelseaflowershow2021 #Mentalhealth #Raphatherapyservices.”

Later on, in the show, Monty spoke to presenter Zoe Ball about her passion for gardening.

“We’re talking today a lot about wellbeing and mental health with gardening and that’s something that seems to have grown a lot over the last year even doesn’t it?” He said.

Zoe agreed: “Well, I think especially during the pandemic people really needed to be outside.”

She noted that programmes like Gardeners’ World and Countryfile helped people see the “simple pleasures” of outdoor spaces.

“Growing something in your window box or in your garden, I think we really appreciate that more and more,” Zoe added.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show continues on BBC Two on Thursday at 3.45pm

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