“It’s ok,” we told ourselves. “It’s just a film crew and Monty Don coming to our house this afternoon.”
We hadn’t slept. We had new clothes. The house was clean. There was cake. Something was clearly not normal.
The previous couple of weeks had seen us doing a lot of research; into garden design, Monty, what to wear on TV, what not to say or do in order look sane and likeable. Yeah, we were cool, it was fine, we weren’t nervous. The fact we hadn’t slept, couldn’t sit down all morning, kept looking at each other and grinning inanely wasn’t anything to do with anything.
The crew arrived and set up, so smooth and calm and friendly, we felt relaxed (ish). Our main worry was that we were going that get the Come Dine With Me treatment. Taking our highly sophisticated humour, wit and charm and turning it into Gogglebox material. Very sneakily they started filming us whilst we were chatting so we didn’t have a set moment when it all kicked off. A bit like being lowered into a cold swimming pool, or having a series of injections. If they keep you talking you don’t realise they are taking sweeping long shots of what you are wearing until afterwards when they have gone and you then spend months dreading the final edit (‘Glenn and Zoe have run through TKMaxx with a credit card and no taste control’).
Then there he was, in our garden, Monty Don. We had to stay inside to preserve the big first hello moment (take three). Not only that, he was admiring the view! He liked it! He was taking pictures! Of our view! Things were looking up. All we had to do now was show him around the garden, run the plans past him, get him to talk plants, easy.
OK, so what followed basically breaks down into key moments. We meet Monty, Monty is lovely. We chat comfortably and laugh. Monty drinks our tea, eats our cake, sits in our house. We film the garden with Monty, we chat, we laugh. We show Monty our plans as nervy as expectant parents who have created a new life, we wait for approval and maybe even some vaguely condescending praise.
Monty tells us we have undersold ourselves, it isn’t ambitious, we have taken the easy road that all new owners of houses take by going with the existing landscape, we can’t have the features we want, our planting is too complex, we don’t need ANY grass and we should terrace the whole plot from one side to the other with a path down the middle. Our little horticultural faces were smarting with an advice slap we hadn’t banked on. Naivety in the extreme. Do not underestimate this man, he is all smiles and crumpled artisan workwear with a calm, easy manner and boundless tales of TV gossip on the outside but underneath lurks the deeply frank and forthright cut of a gardener possessed by aesthetic ideals.
Suitably squashed, the crew and Monty left us to it with instructions to get going and they would be in touch. So we picked up our spades. Join us now on a photo montage of our first few weeks of gardening mayhem.
Early stages of preparing the ground
Next time on Sowing, Growing and Cups of Tea; Uphill Gardening