‘Down to Earth’ by Monty Don


I have read a few of Monty’s books and I am struck with the beauty with which he writes. Every now and then I was caught by a little snippet of description that I found soothing – sometimes with a tinge of sadness (similar to the writing of Tove Jansson). I was particularly fond of Monty’s descriptions of the seasons, especially autumn:

Day and night hang, too briefly, in balance, then tip towards the dark and the year is lost. Autumn can be beautiful. It can be rich with colour and smoky light, and it can be full of flower and fruit, but autumn is always sad. The party is over and the light all over the northern hemisphere is slipping away.

I think it hints perfectly to all the little deaths that autumn will bring. It would be wrong, however, to assume that this is just a book filled with poetical descriptions. It also offers an immense amount of gardening wisdom.

The book is not allotment specific, but it has a lot to offer the allotmenteer in the sections that discuss vegetables, herbs, fruit, soil conditions, pests, tools, weeds, composting, et al. And it is very easy to dip in and out of for advice. I confess that I read it cover to cover and felt like I was being led around both Longmeadow and my own plot whilst Monty offered words of encouragement. That is what is attractive about this book; it is not a prescriptive list about what to do (although lists of planting advice is offered as well as a month by month break down of plants and jobs), but it feels like an informal meeting and the imparting of wisdom – read it with a cup of tea in hand for maximum enjoyment. Maybe I have watched too many gardening programmes but I also read it with Monty’s voice in my head.

There are certain chapters I am looking forward to revisiting such as the chapter on wildlife gardening and we will certainly follow Monty’s instructions on how to build a wildlife pond.

The greatest comfort I find in this book is how connected Monty is to Longmeadow and how he explores the sense of place within gardening. For me, this is what forms the shape and style of our way of allotment gardening. We have no wish to impinge straight lines and rigour on our plot. We do not want to banish the wildness, just tame it a little and encourage its beauty.

Publisher: DK (5 Oct. 2017)
ISBN-10: 0241318270
ISBN-13: 978-0241318270
Hardcover: 272 pages

Available to buy from many bookshops including Amazon, The Book People and Waterstones. Or direct from the publisher, DK.

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