Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Monty Don's health update amid Gardener's World exit

Gardeners' World icon Monty Don has suffered a number of traumatic health experiences over the years, alongside mental health struggles

Monty Don with his head in his hand
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
Share this:

Gardeners' World host Monty Don sent shockwaves around the gardening community recently, when readers believed the star was quitting the BBC show.

In an interview with the Radio Times, the 68-year-old said he is likely to give up the "remorseless treadmill" of the hit show as he approaches his seventies, saying: "The logical thing to do is give up Gardeners' World."

He made similar comments during an interview with The Guardian in November, explaining he wants to make more documentaries as well as conserve his time and energy. He revealed he plans to leave "within the next five years."

Monty Don on Gardeners' World © BBC Studios
Monty Don on Gardeners' World

However, the plant oracle explained in new comments in the Radio Times that he doesn't intend to leave just yet - allowing his fans to breathe a sigh of relief.

"In the end, I'm a gardener and my life is lived in my garden. To share that through the medium of Gardeners' World is not only a privilege, it's also completely central to who I am and what I do," he said.

Monty Don and Sarah Don at National Portrait Gallery book signings in 2016© Nick Harvey/Shutterstock
Monty Don and Sarah Don at National Portrait Gallery book signings in 2016

Despite intending to remain at the helm of the show, which he has worked on since 2003, Monty went on to touch on his mental health struggles.

"I have, for many years, suffered from depression, which comes and goes but tends to be something that is worse in the winter."

Despite his issue with seasonal affective disorder, Monty is feeling well at present but is of course cautious. "I wouldn’t say I have been healed. I'd say I am being healed. It's an ongoing process."

As well as mental health issues, Monty's had more than his fair share of physical health woes. In an unearthed interview in The Guardian, when asked about any near-death experiences, Monty gave an insight into his blighted past.

"Despite a stroke, cancer as a child and various dramas with chainsaws and tractors, the closest was probably when I choked on a lamb chop 25 years ago," Monty recalled.

On how his wife Sarah saved him, Monty added: "Sarah performed the Heimlich manoeuvre and the lamb shot out."

The 68-year-old also hinted that he has some troubles with his knees. When asked what single thing would improve the quality of his life, he answered: "Getting my 21-year-old knees back."

We imagine that years spent kneeling on the ground tending to flora and fauna have seen Monty's knees become quite worn out!

Monty Don throwing leaves up in glee© Paul
Monty Don has tired knees from his years of work

Monty took the opportunity in the interview to speak about his mental health, too. When he was asked what made him unhappy, he answered: "Depression. Uncertainty. Crowds. Parties. Lack of sunlight."

READ: How Gardeners' World star Monty Don's marriage was affected by illness 

Just this week, Monty lamented the darker evenings on his personal gardening blog, calling the changing of the clock "a huge loss."

Writing openly, Monty said: "The days are getting shorter and shorter and here in the UK, at 2 am on the last Sunday of the month, the clocks go back. This means that our evenings outside are gone until next March - and that feels to me like a huge loss."

Keen not to dwell on the negative, Monty wrote that all is not lost as autumn rolls in, adding: "October is still a very productive month for gardeners. There are lots of harvests from squashes, salad leaves, cabbages, sweetcorn, tomatoes, chilies, climbing beans and more."

We're glad to hear Monty is remaining upbeat, as the change in the season is a often a trigger for his SAD, which he spoke about in The Guardian in 2008.X

Monty Don at Longmeadow on Gardeners' World© BBC
Monty Don speaks openly about his mental health

"I'm on record as being depressive. It is related to winter. I have used antidepressants in the past, but I gave them up 10 years ago when I started to use a lightbox on my desk. It's certainly helped."

On how he manages his depression, Monty said: "Since then I've battled through depressive interludes with the support of my family and by taking lots of exercise, cutting my workload, and by being outside. I'll say: 'I will get up' and 'I will shave' and 'I will muck out the chickens' - and that seems to work."

 Learn how to be happier with our HELLO! Happiness Hub


More Health & Fitness

See more