Gardeners’ World and Chelsea Flower Show presenter Monty Don is one of the UK’s best known and most respected gardeners, and he’s just been awarded the highest honour in horticulture.
The Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) was established in 1897 with the approval of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. It enables the RHS Council to ‘confer conspicuous honour on those British horticulturists whom it considers deserving of special honour’, such as contributing to the positive impact of gardening and reaching large audiences to make a difference.
TV gardener Monty, 66, shared the news with his social media followers, reflecting on the award, which he called ‘a small medal but a great honour’, and his meeting with the Queen, who arrived at Chelsea on Monday afternoon (23 May) to tour the gardens.
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‘The RHS is delighted to award Monty the highest honour in horticulture, the VMH, in recognition of his passion and hard work to bring gardening to the wider British public, sharing his skills and advice, and getting millions of people gardening and growing plants,’ said RHS President Keith Weed, who presented the accolade to Monty.
‘During lockdown Monty brought the joy of gardens and gardening, in the bleakest of times, into the homes of millions of people across the UK. Gardeners’ World became a lifeline for the nation, with show ratings soaring by more than one and a half million to their highest in a decade.
‘Monty’s immense contribution in communicating to and engaging the UK public about gardens and gardening is inspiring. On top of this he has been the strongest advocate for the therapeutic benefits of gardening, talking about gardening for health and wellbeing and happiness long before anyone else and championing gardening as the force for good that it is.’
In recognition of the duration of Queen Victoria’s reign, only 63 VMH medals may be held at any one time, therefore the honour is not awarded every year. Alan Titchmarsh and Carol Klein, plus the late Peter Beales, Beth Chatto, David Austin and Peter Seabrook, have all previously been awarded the prestigious accolade.
Monty, who has been making TV programmes for over 30 years, has been lead presenter of BBC’s Gardeners’ World since 2003 – and since 2011 he started to present it from his own garden, Longmeadow, in Herefordshire. He was the The Observer’s gardening editor from 1994 until 2006, and was for many years the President of the Soil Association. His numerous books include Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs and Down to Earth, The Complete Gardener and Gardening at Longmeadow. He was awarded an OBE in 2018.
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