Around The World In 80 Gardens : Complete BBC Series 
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(Jul 07, 2008)
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Around the World in 80 Gardens is a BBC series that follows broadcaster Monty Don as he travels all over the planet searching for world-class gardens ancient and modern, large and small, grand and humble. In total, exactly eighty gardens are featured during his 10 journeys, and include the Alhambra, the gardens of the Taj Mahal in India, the gardens of the Villa DEste in Italy and many important botanic and royal gardens from Thailand to Bali, from New Zealand to Europe and from China to Mexico.Written and presented by Monty Don, the author of numerous gardening books and articles and the UK's leading gardening broadcaster, Around the World in 80 Gardens is much more than a gardening series, since Monty believes that "..gardens are a really good way to understand a culture". Each programme in this landmark documentary series combines history, natural history and travel and appeals to a wide audience. Each programme traces a personal journey for Monty as he exposes himself to new experiences and to cultures he has never previously encountered, leading him to question his ideas of what a garden actually is. With its intimate and engaging tone, we see how Montys own assumptions evolve as he learns from all he encounters
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For ANY kind of gardener this is FUN ! ... It is packed with Monty's obvious enthusiasm and fascination with gardens ( not so much botany + obscure Latin names ... GARDENS ... it's easy to follow ! ) and wherever your garden is ; you will get ideas how to develop it. I happen to live in the Arctic Taiga ( hence the Amazon name ) and we've pinched ideas for all sorts of things ! Tropical plants can be grown on windowsills ( our houses are tropically warm in the winter ) or they benefit from 24 hour a day sunshine ( we're THAT far North ) ... Yet Monty dromedaries himself through deserts, squishily squeezes himself through tropical rainforests and tramps through tundra to bring us exciting ideas and inspiration. Botanically beautiful and geographically gorgeous .. GO FOR IT !
As you'd hope and expect with a globe trotting horticultural adventure, the content of this series is very wide-ranging. From humble homes floating on the Amazon to the swanky private residences of leading garden designers, ranging in scale across everything from Singapore's garden city (where the entire city is considered a garden, of sorts) via palaces, follies, ranches and parks to small community plots and a tiny tea garden, there's the full gamut of humanity from the quirkily individual to the corporate, and representing everything from the very different state management styles of Thailand or Cuba to the private garden spaces of all kinds of people, from the dusty plots of Amerindians to the massive fecund acreages of the super-rich.
It's a televisual feast, being both a pleasure to just sit back and enjoy, and a great source of inspiration (and, perhaps, potential envy!). Monty Don is great. A charismatic and reflectively philosophical man, he's also built like a bear, and his combination of rugged physicality and refined intellectual enthusiasm is a very charming and winning combination.
At times he's perplexed, and he doesn't hide it, prompting him to question, as he does in his brief intro (each episode starts with the same introductory sequence), "what a garden actually is". He judges his own place in the scheme of things perfectly, sharing his feelings, but open to revising his views (as he does regarding the Oaxaca desert succulents garden), and trying to allow the things he sees speak for themselves. The result is that you can see what he's seeing, hear what he and others think and feel, but still judge for yourself. It's usually pretty clear when he's not really won over, and markedly so when he is, as he's unable to suppress a very endearing kind of boyish jubilation. A good example of this contrast is how he warms to Wilson Wong's modest community garden in Singapore, having acknowledged the sincerity of the city-state's greening, but finding something 'disturbing' about its 'corporate blandness'.
Organised by regions (the order of which seems arbitrary or haphazard), there are countless moments of extreme beauty to enjoy and be inspired by, and the series easily sustains repeated viewing. Don is a great presenter and guide, charming, full of character, erudite, stylish and most important of all, clearly passionate about his subject. He's philosophical enough to make the series not just beautiful educational entertainment, but a pleasantly meditative and reflective experience also, ending the whole series in East Asia concluding that humans will always be searching for, and making gardens that reflect this quest, a Shangri-La that really exists in our minds.
A great series that I'd unhesitatingly recommend.
Will I watch it again? Over and over! My personnal rating 9.5 out of 10 enjoy.
So curl up in a comfy chair, with slice of your favourite cake and a cup of tea to hand, and prepare to enjoy a magic carpet ride of colour, design and wonderful scenery and flowers. Even in the pouring rain, undaunted his love of the earth shines through and is so inspiring. He is quite right, in his observation that there is nothing more healing than grubbing around in the soil, sowing a seed and watching with wonder as it grows and transforms the space that it occupies.
My father who was a professional gardener, worked at a rehabilitation centre just after the last world war, and taught physically and mentally damaged men a trade in horticulture, which helped them regain their self respect, gain a job and help to support their families. Gardening is indeed great for healing the spirit, mind and body.
Never underestimate the value of a garden wherever it is in the world, is Monty's message, and it is a true one
This is an amazing visual and vocal pleasure trip around the world.
Monty Don is not just a good gardener he is also an excellent orator.
While visiting the gardens, you are also introduced to varying cultures,beautiful scenery,
panoramic landscapes, design marvels, the incredible list is endless.
What a fantastic series.Once you start, its very infectious, you can't wait to start the next episode.
Whether your a gardener or not, I'm sure you will enjoy the experience.
Don't miss out on this set, its really good.
Pros - Just about everything you could want from a garden inspired travel programme.
Cons - Although sublime photography, colours and music, Blue ray would really do the series justice.
Can't wait for a follow up, as x 80 gardens were not covered in total.