Monty Don bought this house, with his wife, in October 1991, with the hope of turning it into something one might admire and nurture.
The garden consisted of a 2 acre abandoned field out the back and a much smaller area in the front covered in builder’s rubble. ‘That was it,’ he says on his blog. ‘There was one tree – the hazel in what is now the Spring Garden – and everything else was rough grass, nettles and brambles.’
With a lot of planning, Monty transformed Longmeadow garden into his ‘dream garden’ filled with his favourite plants and flowers.
The main areas are: The Paradise Garden, The Cottage Garden, The Vegetable Garden, The Herb Garden, The Dry Garden and The Jewel Garden, the latter of which Monty says is ‘the physical and spiritual centre of the entire garden’. Think of them as huge garden rooms; they all feel like separate spaces but together they perfectly complement one another.
Take a tour of Monty Don’s garden below
1. THE PARADISE GARDEN
Awash with fragrance, texture and subtle colour, this garden borrows inspiration from the Islamic world. ‘The planting is modern and based upon a matrix of the soft grass stipa tenuissima with the tulip acuminata, with its long ottoman-like petals in spring and tulbaghia and verbena bonariensis flowering in summer. Roses and Lilies add the essential element of fragrance,’ says Monty.
2. THE DRY GARDEN
3. THE JEWEL GARDEN
‘The Jewel Garden is the physical and spiritual centre of the entire garden,’ explains Monty. All life in the garden revolves around it. It was made as a celebration of the colours of jewellery in the 1980’s – brash, extravagant and high maintenance.
4. THE COTTAGE GARDEN
The Cottage garden is everything you’d imagine in a fairytale. This space spent the first 20 years of its existence as a dedicated vegetable garden, conveniently near the kitchen and supplying the family with fresh produce. But over the past ten years it has slowly evolved into a traditional, but essentially floral, cottage garden, filled with blowsy, soft colours but also containing fruit trees, rhubarb, gooseberries and some herbs all mingled in together.
5. THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
Monty has grown vegetables since he was a small child and growing his own vegetables, herbs and fruit has always been an essential ingredient his life. ‘We do so as much as cooks and lovers of good food as gardeners, always striving for good taste and health over appearance or size,’ says Monty. ‘The luxury of strolling out into the garden with a basket to ‘market’ it, selecting whatever is most appetising and ready for consumption and then quickly converting these delicious ingredients into a simple meal is one of life’s great pleasures.’
6. THE HERB GARDEN
The herb garden is the perfect place to stop and breathe. Smell is one of the most vivid senses as it can improve mood and trigger memories and strong feelings.