Monty Don’s row with BBC over organic gardening exposed

Monty is best known for his prime slot on the nation’s favourite BBC gardening programme, Gardeners’ World. Having presented the show since 2003, in 2011, the green-fingered genius hosted Gardeners’ World from his home, with viewers privileged enough to be invited to his impressive garden.

In 2014, Monty became the lead presenter for the BBC’s Chelsea Flower Show coverage, which has, for the first time since World War 2, been cancelled.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced observers of the show to skip the year, with many participants at a loss after preparing their flowers for over a year.

Monty, however, gave fans some hope when he said: “[The show is] happening, just not quite as we know it.”

He is now set to present the flower show on various days this week.

His career has been one of steady rise to fame, although it hasn’t always been plain-sailing.

In 2012, Monty was embroiled in a dispute with BBC bosses over his techniques in ridding plants of pests.

His advice, “to hand-pick them and then destroy them” enraged pesticide manufacturers, their criticism of him for not mentioning that their products could also remove the insect.

Instead of backing their man up, the BBC assured his critics: “Monty often mentions non-organic alternatives and we will endeavour to ensure this is more consistent in future.”

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Monty, who is president of the Soil Association, voiced his outrage at the BBC’s move.

He said the statement had “irritated” him, adding: “It is a classic case of the BBC not wanting to offend anyone and trying to be fair and reasonable – but at the same time getting it wrong.

“It is nonsense, because there is nothing here that they need to defend.”

He said the nature of the show, that is, providing his views and tips on gardening methods, would not change.

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Defiantly, he added that he would not promote non-organic products.

The then 56-year-old presenter said: “Those are not my views and I want to set the record straight.

“The BBC can issue any statement they like but I can assure you I will not be promoting or advocating any non-organic products.

“I was irritated when I saw the BBC’s statement and asked why it was issued. Of course I will not be promoting non-organic products of any kind whatsoever and no one would expect me to.

He continued: “Any views that I express in any programme are my own. They are personal and that is always made very clear.

“I might have said on the odd occasion, ‘if you are not an organic gardener you can spray with this – but I don’t because I am’.

“What I would not say is ‘this is how I do it but the other way to do it would be …’ And then list a load of chemicals. I just wouldn’t do that. It’s not going to happen and I have had no conversation of any kind with the BBC about that.

“I don’t have that kind of relationship with them. I do what I think is right and proper. Without being too grand it is my show. With my views and my methods of gardening.”

Last week, Monty broke the tragic news that his golden retriever Nigel had died after being taken “suddenly ill”.

In an Instagram post, he wrote: “To the end he was happy, healthy and his usual calm, lovely self.

“He slipped quietly away with no pain or suffering and is now buried in the garden with lots of tennis balls.”

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