The winter chill has settled on the garden but it doesn’t have to settle on your gardener’s heart. I have found the most delightful English gentleman, Monty Don, who can take you to exquisite European gardens while you sit in your favorite easy chair. This Netflix series features not only some of the finest English, Italian and French gardens but also a knowledgeable guide to help you learn lots of gardening secrets along the way.
My personal favorite is his “Small Spaces, Big Dreams” series that features average English homeowners that want to transform their yards into -what the British call - smallholding - which simply means an agricultural plot smaller then a farm or what we may call edible gardening.
The show starts out meeting the regular folks and hearing some of their back story - think Biggest Loser kind-of heart wrenching - and then a walk around their property detailing their vision to Monty. He offers sage advice, rolls up his sleeves and they start digging. There’s always some tweaking that must occur between the “dream” and the reality, mostly because the art of successful gardening is knowing your climate, your commitment and your budget, and so Monty sends them to a local garden or nursery to get the information they need to succeed. It’s wonderful because you the viewer get to learn right along with the show.
Monty gives them a timeline - usually just 4-6 weeks - and then leaves them to it. Very often family and neighbors come out to help. Shared work is another feature of the smallholding and you can see how much it adds to the experience. I think we should definitely incorporate that more here in America.
The deadline looms, weather interrupts but somehow, miraculously, the garden is ready for Monty’s return visit. It almost brings a tear to the eye to see the transformation of the garden and the gardener. And it’s really inspirational to see if you’ve been putting off any big project. So much so, that I hope to chronicle a big water feature project on our NY property for the blog this summer.
There’s something about accountability and deadlines that encourages us to work hard and finish a project. All gardening is only as good as the work you put into it. Ah, but what sweet rewards when you see a plot transformed by your very hands! I’d love to hear about some of your projects too, and if I’m in the area, come and give you a hand. If you want, even detail it for the blog.