Northern Ireland-bound Monty's pot shot at BBC over showing snooker in lieu of his seasonal gardening show
Broadcaster Monty Don says BBC schedulers have got it wrong by dropping Gardeners' World for snooker at the height of the growing season.
The Gardeners' World frontman told the Belfast Telegraph he felt "very annoyed" on behalf of more than 6,000 viewers who have signed a petition calling on the BBC to stop bumping the popular show for sport.
"What I don't think they realise is that gardening is a soap opera, a live event," he said.
"What's happening today didn't happen yesterday and won't happen tomorrow.
"To be told there will be an extra programme in October and an extra hour on the Chelsea Flower Show, it's not a replacement and I think that is what upsets people."
The broadcaster said episodes of dramas have also been postponed for sport, losing all the tension.
"I think it's a real mistake and they shouldn't do it," he said.
The gardening presenter is coming to Antrim Castle Gardens this Saturday to visit Allianz Garden Show Ireland and talk about his best-selling book Fork to Fork.
"People in Northern Ireland are the friendliest people that I have met in the world," he says.
Monty used to run a jewellery company with his wife Sarah, before changing direction to become one of the UK's best-loved gardening presenters. He believes the interest in gardening is growing.
"I've noticed that gardening tends to become more popular at times of uncertainty and slightly less popular in times of greater affluence," he says. "If the world is becoming an uncertain and alarming place, there is a great comfort in your garden, a security in it and a sense that you are dealing in eternal verities as opposed to uncertainties."
Despite warnings about giant slugs, Monty Don says they are the ones that do the least damage.
"Far worse are the keel slugs that are small and live in your garden in the hundreds of thousands. We've had a very warm, wet winter and the conditions for them to proliferate are getting better and better.
"I am a great believer that you can't fight nature - you have to modify how you garden.
"The simplest way to fight slugs is to grow plants hard - don't overfeed them, don't overwater them, don't protect them too much.
"Make them tough and they'll survive."
For more information, visit www.gardenshowireland.com.
- Get outside - the more time you spend in the garden, the better
- Make it personal
- Keep on top of the weeds
- Grow something to eat
- Little and often - 20 minutes a day is better than two hours at the weekend