Kim Wilde takes the Lakes to Chelsea

Date
Published in
South London Guardian (UK)
Written by
Ruth Lythe

A little corner of the Lake District will feature at one of the world's most prestigious horticultural shows thanks to the creative efforts of a rock star and an award-winning gardener Eighties pop icon Kim Wilde is to exhibit a Cumbria Fellside Garden at this year's Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in May.
The 44-year-old singer revealed her plans, finalised after months of hard work, in the scenic setting of Brantwood, Coniston, the home of the eminent Victorian writer, painter and gardener, John Ruskin.

She described how she had first fallen in love with the Lake District in 1996 on a trip with her husband to Derwentwater.
"I was 36 before I even knew that Cumbria existed and I couldn't believe how beautiful and unspoilt it was. I was falling in love with my husband as we were driving around the place. It had a huge impact on both of us," she explained.
After spending the 80s as a superstar, the singer decided to indulge her life long passion for gardening and started to perfect her skills at horticultural college. Since then she has been applying her green-fingered expertise and a dash of glamour to a wide range of gardening projects, including a TV series. Recently, she has also turned her talents to writing and has published a book and penned the forward to Cumbria Tourist Board's guide, The Gardens, Parks and Wildlife of Cumbria - the Lake District.

The star has since been at the forefront of some of the Lake District's most prominent gardening events, including Holker Hall Garden Festival, held at Cark-in-Cartmel. But it was after visiting last year's Chelsea Flower Show that she was inspired to create her own exhibit, along with Richard Lucas, the head gardener of the Lakeside Hotel at Newby Bridge.

Although the Chelsea plot will measure only four metres by four metres, it aims to capture Ms Wilde's "romantic" image of Cumbria, transporting visitors to a Lake District fell. Nature is in control of the garden, which is designed to look as if it has grown out of the sloping plot of an abandoned farmhouse with wild flowers and grasses emerging from between paving flags.
The horticultural gem will be packed with visual and sensory treats including native Cumbrian wild plants, slate from Borrowdale's Honister Slate Mine, dry stone walls and a willow arbour, as well as a rivulet falling from the "fell".

"From the very beginning up until today, the project has taken about a year - last summer we marked out the garden's dimensions in my back garden with the kids' chairs," said the singer.
Co creator Richard Lucas added: "What started as a few rough sketches soon became the Cumbrian Fellside Garden and was posted off to the Royal Horticultural Society. After an anxious two-month wait we were delighted to hear that our entry had been accepted and would be one of nine courtyard' Chelsea gardens."
Although there are no prizes at the prestigious event, exhibitors can be awarded gold, silver or bronze medals depending on how much their entry impresses the judges.
"Kim and I are both first time Chelsea exhibitors and are looking forward immensely to showcasing Cumbria at the world's greatest flower show. We both feel that winning any colour of medal would be fantastic," Mr Lucas added.