When Monty Don purchased his Tudor home, Longmeadow, in 1991, he and his wife Sarah were confronted with a mammoth task. "It was a ruin – no roof, electricity, running water or sanitation," the presenter told My English Home.
As for the garden, Monty's website recalls a "2-acre abandoned field out the back and a much smaller area in the front covered in builder's rubble," which he's since transformed into an Edenic oasis.
After pouring his heart and soul into the 'Cottage', 'Jewel', 'Paradise' and 'Vegetable' gardens, Monty, 68, turned his attention to a new DIY project in 2021 – and it might just be his most impressive renovation.
An established author, while the father-of-three typically writes in his unique office – aka the "upstairs floor of a converted hop kiln" – in the warmer months, he spends his time in the summer house on the mound in his garden.
A project that came to life in October 2021, Monty shared that he'd been working on the space in "dribs and drabs," via Instagram. Opting for a meadow green exterior, Monty started out by painting the pavilion shell, before lining the interiors with recycled tongue and groove boards.
According to Wood & Beyond, tongue and groove wood flooring is known for its "exceptional durability" and "sleek and continuous aesthetic appeal". While the boards come in a variety of shades, Monty has chosen a whitewashed, rustic shade on the walls, and warm walnut-hued flooring.
After getting the bulk of the renovation out of the way, Monty continued to transform the space by adding several timeless furnishings, including two Victorian Smokers Bow Chairs, plus a classic oak table for writing, and a side unit for photo frames and mementoes.
When the weather's warm, the Gardeners' World star loves nothing more than to open up the doors of the summer house and invite a wave of plush green shrubbery and blooming flowers into eye view.
The very definition of tranquillity, in September 2022, Monty shared a photo of his seasonal workspace, alongside a particularly poignant caption. "The summer house on the Mound - where I go to work with a clean mind, away from screens of any kind," he explained.
With windows on each wall and plenty of light flooding in, it's hardly surprising that Monty treasures it. By framing different views of the garden, the summer house feels connected to nature – which is said to reduce stress, nurture creativity and increase productivity – while providing a quiet haven to work in.
Jen, founder of Lakeland Wellbeing, tells HELLO!: Being in nature has some wonderful calming benefits. Spending time outdoors in natural environments helps to soothe the nervous system, reduce stress levels and bring about feelings of calm and relaxation.
"This is largely down to the biophilia effect, the concept that as human beings our bodies and brains have evolved in and with natural environments, therefore we function better in them. When we are relaxed and happy we are able to think better, be more creative and our imagination can run wild and free."
She explains: "Prolonged use of screens has been linked to shortened attention span, reduced cognitive function and even anxiety & depression, however, research shows that spending just 2 hours in nature a week can improve our physical and mental health. Whether we choose our garden, woodland, the beach or a local park, simply walking or sitting and immersing ourselves in nature can reap the benefits.
"Seratonin our ‘happy hormone’ increases when we spend time in fresh air and in particular when we come in contact with soil - no wonder gardeners are always so happy! We may be inspired by natural metaphors, perhaps the growth of a beautiful flower or the falling of leaves in autumn that spark our creative juices and birdsong is also beneficial to enhance our mood and boost our creativity."