Kim Wilde

Kim Wilde

Kim Wilde started a successful pop career back in January 1981, aged 20, with a worldwide hit 'Kids in America'. Coming from a musical family (father Marty Wilde is a well respected rocker having his highlights in the late '50s and early '60s whilst mother Joyce Baker started out as a singer in the group the Vernon Girls before marrying Marty) it is not surprising she stepped out in the limelight to have a show business career herself.

 

The Wilde family team always backed Kim's success: father Marty and brother Ricky writing and producing, whilst her mother Joyce was her personal manager. Not to say the least of Kim herself, providing not only having the talent and a bit of luck to break through, she works hard and recognize the value of promoting the globe many times. But to think that Kim was only the front person of a well running industry would be a mistake. She always had a clear idea of her own music, image, appearance and people she wants to work with. In 1984 Kim made an artistic turning point proving to be a complete performer, writing and producing many songs ever since. Kim released ten albums and more than 30 singles respectively sold in excess of 7 million and over 12 million worldwide. Kim's integrity and affinity for people appealed to an audience of all ages.

Highlights in her career, besides numerous gold and platinum records, were being voted Best Female Singer at the BPI Awards, reaching no. 1 with You Keep Me Hangin'On in the American Billboard singles chart, supporting Michael Jackson on his 1988 Bad world tour, co-presenting The Big Breakfast and starring in the West End stage production of the musical Tommy in 1996.

It was on the latter that she met co- star Hal Fowler whom she married in '96.

Wanting to have children as soon as possible, Kim wanted to create a garden for the whole family at her 16th century renovated barn, which she bought six years before. Not really the most obvious choice then as Kim's pop career was in full bloom. Kim moved from London, where she lived since she was 23, to the Hertfordshire countryside because she couldn't resist the pull of the countryside any longer, having grown up there. Her family moved from southeast London to a Hertfordshire thatched cottage with a vast garden, when Kim was eight and it had a huge impact on her. One of her best memories from that period is her love of the outdoors where she and her friends regularly spent days and weekends camping in the countryside around their home.

Seduced by the countryside Kim harboured a desire to create a magical landscape for her children, to grow organic fruit and vegetables for them to know where their food comes from. The south-facing garden consists of three acres of land that looked initially like a field. Kim faced the task to turn one acre into a garden of her dreams.

Desperate to learn she read books on gardening design and gathered knowledge from television. Together with Hal and a gardener/builder friend, armed with Rosemary Verey's Garden Plans and Kim Hurst's Herb and Kitchen book, she worked out her design of the kitchen garden. The plan was to give the garden a formal framework and plant exuberantly, with a cottage feel. The starting point was an alley of hawthorn trees, leading from the middle back door. A vegetable plot was designed with eight raised beds producing an almost endless crop. She also made a formal herb patch close by the kitchen patio. Not knowing anything about design and scale Kim did two one-week courses in garden design and planting in 1997 at Capel Manor, the Horticultural College in Enfield. She followed the one-year RHS course, which she left after almost four months because she was pregnant with her first child, Harry.

Kim found herself firmly in the grip of the gardening bug so that she felt like a born-again individual who discovered the whole experience to give her a sense of her own power on this new path. Like a real devotee she was interested and enthusiastic, prepared to learn on the job, willing to ask for help and wasn't too bothered about making mistakes. Headhunters from ITV noticed that same enthusiasm, when looking for talent at Capel Manor for a new gardening series called ‘Better Gardens', to be recorded in the summer of '99. Kim didn't only make many of the designs for this garden makeover series, she rolled up her sleeves and helped with the hard graft and planting. With a desire to be involved, Kim's very focused on doing it, gaining more and more experience.

Having found a new fulfilment in life, Kim decided to put her music on hold for a while, focusing on her family and gardening. She felt that this combination worked better. Ever since then, Kim follows what feels like the right thing to do, since her family is a large consideration. Having a pop career tends to keep her away from her family and garden and being a real hands-on mum she's not into that. After being disillusioned with the pop world, she found gardening to be her therapy. It helped to reconnect her with the earth and with herself and found gardening to be so healing. The fact that the focus not longer was on her to look like a pop diva but that the full attention was to the plant was found to be hugely liberating.

Longing for a more profound horticultural knowledge Kim undertook a two-year formal City and Guilds course at Capel Manor, which earned her a Certificate in planting and plant design. From then on Kim was asked to appear on the BBC's Garden Invaders as a designer for two series. In the meantime she started as a gardening writer with a monthly article for Prima magazine. Ever since, Kim's gardening career took off proving that green fingers and glamour can go together well. She co-presented the Chelsea Flower Show 2001, approving of the way that television brings gardening to a wider audience, all approaches are celebrated and that gardening is being hailed as the new rock and roll.

Kim's new role as a gardener did not mark the end of her music career. Since 2001 Kim performed live on 80s tours in the UK and during festivals in parts of Europe.

Nevertheless Kim pursues her career as a gardener. She is certainly putting lots of effort into her new-found passion for all things horticultural, taking up private commissions, show gardens and charity events as well. Although her gardening career isn't that long it is a remarkable one with definite highlights: writing a weekly column for the Guardian and Bella magazine, winning a gold medal with the best in show garden 'Alice in Wonderland' she co-designed with David Fountain at Tatton Park, being best in show and winning a gold medal for her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2005: 'The Cumbrian Fellside Garden.' Kim also had a plant named after her: the Kim Wilde Sweet Pea, which is for sale at Wyveale garden centres.

Wanting to celebrate her new family- gardening life, Kim wrote a book about it with lots of projects with her children. 'Gardening with Children' was released April 2005. She feels it is important to get children outdoors young instead of in front of the TV or computers. Kim stresses out that having an awareness of the environment is very important of which children are the guardians of the future.

A second book 'The First Time Gardener' was released in the spring of 2006. This book shows Kim's creativity on many projects and her refreshed approach to horticulture. Taking account with the environment, wildlife and people's lifestyle, Kim writes passionately about her gardening journey, making both starters and avid gardeners enthusiastic.

There's no doubt that Kim believes gardening to be with her forever.