The Really Wilde Show

Once she had huge hair and sang about ‘Kids in America’. Now she’s presenting a gardening programme. Lynsey Hanley meets crooner turned pruner Kim Wilde.

Kim Wilde? On a gardening programme? How did that come about?
When I was pregnant with my first child, Harry, I started going to a horticultural college. I spent several months studying there, and unbeknownst to me, the producers were researching ‘Better Gardens’ at the time. They came to my college looking for designers and ideas, and someone there said, ‘Oh, you know who’s been here, don’t you?’ And it kind of started from there. I did a little audition at home planting some clematis, giving it the large, you know, and got the job, much to my surprise.

So were you actually doing a degree in gardening?
It was a higher certificate in Horticulture. I did several months of the course but then I had to bow out because I couldn’t walk around the college – I got too big with Harry! But now I write articles for Prima on gardening, so I’m sort of doing a home course, doing lots of research and lots of homework. As long as I can keep my hand in gardening one way or another I’ll do it.

Were you attending the college incognito? If so, didn’t you feel annoyed that your cover had been blown?
Well, I did go there anonymously but gardening folk aren’t really interested in the likes of me – they’re more interested in their herbaceous perennials. I’m not too worried about it, really. They’ve given me a wonderful opportunity to do the programme and I thoroughly loved every moment of it.

Were you always secretly into gardening?
I was brought up in the country, and I was always interested in vegetable growing. I was a big fan of ‘The Good Life’; it’s been quite fun watching that again. I always figured that would be the best way to live life, even throughout my days of being a pop star. Because I was the right age to be doing all that kind of stuff, I was very happy doing it, but I always wanted to get closer to nature, getting my hands dirty and making stuff grow.

You were known for being a bit of a tomboy as a pop star in the 80s and then gradually got more glamorous. Were those image changes foisted upon you?
There were times when I felt less comfortable, times when I felt more so. I got more comfortable with it as I approached my thirties, but during my twenties I had mixed feelings about it. I was always a tomboy at heart, so there were times when I didn’t really feel like I fitted the frocks. It wasn’t too much of a problem, though, because I love clothes. Although they don’t love me quite as much as they used to.