My therapy

Date
Published in
Daily Express (UK)
Written by
Lara Ellsworth-Jones

Every week a celebrity reveals how they unwind. This week, Eighties pop singer and gardening expert Kim Wilde, 40, sings the praises of her garden. She lives in a converted barn in Hertfordshire with her actor husband Hal Fowler and their children Harry, three, and one-year-old Rose.

I was initially drawn to gardening as a type of therapy. When I was in my early 20s, I spent several years travelling the world and singing. At the time, the lifestyle was wonderful. However, I found I would get back from trips abroad and feel really fried. At the end of the day, I was drained and just wanted to be outside. It didn't matter what the weather was like, I would always go out into the garden to see if there was anything I could do. I used to have a gardener, and I remember one day when he came around, I was outside pottering around in full make-up and good clothes. I hadn't even bothered to take off my high heels. I was brought up a country girl and that has never gone away. And as time went on I started to feel increasingly disconnected from the music world. It just wasn't making me feel good.

That's when I moved back to the countryside and let the gardening thing take hold of me. But it wasn't until five years ago, just after Hal and I married, that we started to build the garden at our house. It was for the children we were yet to have, to play in. Hal and I planned it and laid it out and it is quite a mature garden now.

I get a lot of exercise through my job. Gardening is very strenuous work. For people who hate the gym like I do, it is a great alternative with the advantage being, you can do it outdoors. After a couple of days working in the garden and digging, I feel very fit. It's like I have spent a day doing press-ups.

The one thing I am very careful about, though, is how I pick things up. There are quite a few heavy things in the garden you have to lift, such as large stones and wheelbarrows full of rubble, and at one stage my back became quite weakened because I wasn't picking things up properly. So to strengthen it, I started doing yoga. I've found out that the proper way to lift things is to get into a position when you are virtually squatting, keeping your back straight, and then using your legs to move the weight upwards. I love turning negative things to your advantage. Yoga is also fantastic for toning.

We have eight raised vegetable beds in our garden and grow a lot of our own food. It's wonderful to see the children run out into the garden and fill their tummies with fruit and vegetables. It's a great way of convincing Harry and Rose vegetables are fun and tasty and just as good as sweets - which was pretty hard.

Kim Wilde currently appears on BBC1's Garden Invaders, weekdays, 9am.