Tony Edwards

Monty Don. . . as a verb

- 1 min

Gardeners have a problem. One that needs addressing.

“Monty Donning it”

Picture the scene. Years after lovingly placing a baby plant in the ground, it’s grown into a magnificent beast. It’s just finished a stunning flowering season and stands proud in the early summer sun showing off its natural beauty. Everything is serene. Until a gardening enthusiast shows up.

“We should cut that back. It’ll look great in a few years.”

Or, to put it another way:

“We should Monty Don that.”

Monty Don
Verb - To prune a plant within an inch of its life as if it’s your worst enemy.
“She Monty Donned that bush, leaving only a few sticks remaining.”

It’s a phrase that entered the household lexicon after one of his programs a few years ago. Monty, the show’s host, visited a viewer’s garden to help them do it up on a budget. At the centre of the garden was a really well-established Apple tree. The kind of tree that everyone who plants an apple dreams of. Clearly in need of a prune, but a beast nonetheless.

Great we thought. There’s an apple tree outside that needs some love and attention. This is perfect.

And so Monty started. Throughout the segment, viewers saw him remove branch by branch to gradually unveil the classic egg cup shape that suits productive apple trees. Did he stop there? Not on your Nelly! With a glint in his eye, he kept on hacking back branches. By the end of the segment, the tree was little more than a Y-shaped stump that towered over the host and garden owner. With a wry smile at the camera, Monty proclaimed:

“It looks drastic, but I think we’ll get away with it.”

Neither the garden owner nor I were convinced, but I’m sure the tree is doing well all these years later. I’m not so sure about everything that’s been “Monty Donned” in our garden over the years. . . but I’ll love the gardening enthusiast regardless.

Even if the plants looked great before the chop.

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