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Inside Monty Don’s health battles as BBC Gardeners’ World star confirms future of beloved programme: From ‘incredibly frightening’ near-death experience to ongoing mental health struggles


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Monty Don is back on the air, after recently dismissing rumours that he’ll be leaving the much loved Gardeners’ World show.

But despite continuing to delight audiences, the horticultural presenter, 68, who will be appearing on Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens on BBC Two at 8pm tonight, has also talked openly about the challenges he’s faced with his physical and mental health in the past.

Speaking to the Radio Times Magazine last year, the media personality revealed that he will likely give up the ‘remorseless treadmill’ of the hit show as he approaches his seventies.

However, just last week he told The One Show that he would remain on Gardeners’ World for ‘at least another three years’.

Monty has been candid about health battles he had gone through in the past. 

Monty Don, 68, has a new show called Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens, which launched on BBC Two on February 23

During the discussion with the Radio Times Magazine, he also opened up about suffering from depression ‘for many years… which comes and goes but tends to be something that is worse in the winter’. 

His mental health issues were first brought to surface when he lost his jewellery business due to the financial crisis of 1987.

Although Monty added that he currently feels ‘fine,’ he also said: ‘I wouldn’t say I have been healed. I’d say I am being healed. It’s an ongoing process.’ 

The presenter also admitted last year in December that his seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was so bad that his wife Sarah threatened to walk out on him with their three children if he did not seek help.

Speaking with Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, he said: ‘This time of year I always start to feel weary.

‘I was long ago diagnosed with SAD – there’s no question about it, that November, December are always the worst time for me – I can’t bear them.

‘It’s a lot to do with the greyness, the lack of light and the general sense of the world just pressing in on you and no energy.

‘Having said that, I’m busy, I’ve got lots to do – I like being busy.’

Since 2011, Monty has been presenting Gardeners' World from his home his home Longmeadow in Herefordshire.

Since 2011, Monty has been presenting Gardeners’ World from his home his home Longmeadow in Herefordshire.

Turning to his marriage, Monty added: ‘There was one point where Sarah said to me: “Look, I just can’t take any longer your moods and your black depression, you’ve got to do something about it because if you don’t, I can’t live with you – I’ll take the children and I’ll go”.’ 

Previously, back in 2008, Monty suffered a mini-stroke, which forced him to step down from Gardeners’ World for a period. 

Describing the experience to the Mail, he recounted: ‘As I walked it felt as if I was tipping over, so I’d lean the other way and find myself tipping into a hedge instead. I cannot over-exaggerate how alarmed and unwell I felt.

‘It was incredibly frightening because it was as if I had entered totally uncharted territory. I said to my wife Sarah: ‘Hold me because I think I’m dying and, if I am, I want to die in your arms.”

He later told the Mail in 2011 that he didn’t want to be known as ‘the man who was ill’.

Speaking to Times Radio ahead of the launch of his new BBC Two show Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens on February 23, Monty said: ‘I don’t work so hard now, and when I do things I do them on my terms,’ he explained.

Referring to his stroke, he added: ‘Psychologically, I’ve tried to put it behind me but, yes, I became very aware of my mortality and that was very real.’

But Monty’s health battles date back well before 2008. Indeed, as a child he had endured bone-marrow cancer.

‘I was a sickly child, and it wasn’t until I was 19 that I realised I was quite a robust, vigorous person,’ Monty told The Guardian.

‘Robust’ and ‘vigorous’ certainly describe how he looks in his new show set in Spain. 

Monty has talked openly about his various health battles, both physical and mental. As a child Monty suffered from bone-marrow cancer while in 2008 he experienced a mini-stroke

Monty has talked openly about his various health battles, both physical and mental. As a child Monty suffered from bone-marrow cancer while in 2008 he experienced a mini-stroke 

He described filming the show as ‘an exhilarating and fascinating experience,’ writing on his website: ‘This was filmed last year when I spent 7 weeks in Spain across April, May, June and October and covers over 40 different gardens.’

‘I found it an exhilarating and fascinating experience with stunning gardens and learned so much more about the country – despite having visited many times before as a tourist.

‘It looks incredible and hope you find it as entertaining and rewarding watching it as I did making it.’ 

Last year, in October, the Gardeners’ World star revealed his beloved dog Nell had died of cancer – three years after losing Golden Retriever Nigel.

The famed horticulturist took to social media to share the tragic news, which came four months after his companion was diagnosed with the disease.

Monty, who is known for his love of dogs and regularly invites his furry friends to join him on screen, shared the sad news with his one million Instagram followers on October 21 and thanked them for their support in a follow-up post.

  • Monty Don’s Spanish Gardens, episode two, airs on BBC Two on Thursday 29 February at 8pm.

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