The Complete Gardener by Monty Don

The Complete Gardener by Monty Don

Published by Dorling Kindersley

This book should have warning signs plastered all over it!   It is potentially dangerous to Grannies and SATSFTWPs alike (or Stressed And Time Strapped Full Time Working Parents).   It makes people miss appointments, travel with a determined gleam in their eye to garden centres and generally break all their beautifully manicured nails (except that SATSFTWPs tend not to have time to get manicures but you get the drift).

So you have been warned!

Five minutes after I first got my hands on The Complete Garden by Monty Don I was trapped.   I was supposed to write a press release on a riveting topic such as object oriented technology (with apologies to my friends working in that area) but didn't.   Instead a casual flick through the pages led to a 30 minute sojourn in Monty's garden and I didn't take my nose out of the book until forcibly made to do so by my children returning home that evening.

It was the same the next day, Saturday.   My family and I were driving to a neighbouring town about 40 minutes away.   I was in the passenger seat and took the book with me.   This was very against character as I get car sick if I read on car journeys.   Guess who was green in the face at the end of the journey?   But it didn't stop me and I read on the return journey too – and felt even worse!

It's not just me.   I lent the book to my mother who has a new hip.   Within days of reading the book, she had popped down to her local nursery to buy nasturtiums that she has read about in the book.   Planting the nasturtiums was clearly not a good idea in her condition and as a result I have had to take the book back.     She is not allowed to read it until her doctor gives her permission.

What is it about this book that makes it so addictive?   Four things jump out at me. Firstly it is beautifully produced with wonderful photography.   That alone made me argue with my husband to put in a willow walk into our garden.   Secondly, Monty's enthusiasm and energy is very obvious for all things organic.   Thirdly, I really took to his practical views and anecdotes.   And finally, his writing,.   I suspect that most 'celebrity' gardeners are gardeners first and journalists second.   In Monty's case, it is not clear which comes first but he is damn good at both.  

Put it this way, the first weekend I read the book, I missed deadlines, I got car sick, I broke all my unmanicured nails, spent a fortune at the nursery and planed sweet corn.   I've never planted sweet corn before and if it works, I'm joining Monty's fan club directly!

So, if you want to give the ultimate gift to a friend that they will enjoy, then this is the book for you.   They don't have to be a gardener (I am not) but the book in infectious and lots of fun.