Kim Wilde did my garden

Former pop star Kim Wilde is better known for bringing peroxide into fashion than for her green fingers. So it came as a surprise for 80-year-old Jill Bellam when the Eighties icon swapped her spandex for a spade to give her ramshackle garden a stunning makeover.

Grounded by arthritis, Mrs Bellam, of Henderson Way, Horsham, had all but given up on her back garden before her daughter Jenny Holly contacted the makers of TV series House And Garden Invaders.

An army of workers, accompanied by Miss Wilde and presenter Mark Evans, showed up at her home to film an episode of the BBC series, which gives homeowners the chance to win hundreds of pounds worth of plants by answering botanical questions.

Miss Wilde, best known for her hit Kids In America, shed her glamorous image and wore a T-shirt and jeans with scraped-back hair.

She transformed the run-down garden, which was crammed with white plastic furniture, into a sweet-smelling, low-maintenance area complete with patio, railway sleepers, knee-high beds and aromatic plants.

Mrs Bellam, who worked as a care assistant until the age of 75, said: “Fame at last. I am absolutely thrilled with the garden. Kim is a very nice girl, my son especially thought she was lovely. She was quite beautiful even though she wasn’t wearing make-up and Mark was also really nice. He’s a lovely man and I was going to tell my daughter ‘hands off’ because she thought he was a bit gorgeous.”

Mrs Bellam and her daughter answered questions about plants, built a coal cover and shaped a piece of grass into a star to win garden goodies.

During the episode, screened yesterday, Mark Evans joked he would have to “rugby-tackle” Mrs Bellam, who admitted she was desperate to creep round the back of the flat for a peek at the garden.

He also had her in stitches when he asked her how she played football, pointing to a No Ball Games sign.

The scruffy garden was transformed under the careful direction of Miss Wilde.

The singer said: “I am passionate about gardening and like a sensual garden with things that look, smell, and taste good. I have always enjoyed gardening but my real passion started with growing vegetables because I wanted my children to have good food.

“I really like planting seeds and get a big kick out of watching things grow. I spend an awful lot of time in the garden.”

Mrs Bellam admitted she had let the garden slip because of her arthritis but had a great tip for getting rid of slugs and snails after the wet winter – put out a bowl of beer.