Wilde garden

Former pop sensation Kim Wilde has swapped singing for a pair of secateurs. Phil Gould talks to her about her career change.

In the 1980s Kim Wilde was  apop princess, notching up a string of hits to earn her the accolade of being the most popular British female vocalist of the decade. She seemed to have it all – the blonde-haired pop kitten who every man wanted to date and every girl wanted to be. Her biggest hit, a remake of the Supremes 1966 hit ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ even got to number one in the United States.

But towards the end of the decade the star began to fade and, by the early 90s, it all seemed to be over. She says she has few regrets. “I’m still really proud of my musical career. I was very young – the perfect time to be a pop star”, recalls the woman who is now sewing the seeds of a career in TV horticulture, fronting House and Garden Invaders. “I’d always wanted to sing and be a pop star. I was given a gift of a song with my first hit Kids in America. Then everybody seemed to like my hair and, bizarrely, it went from there. I’d got the song, the hair and then the career. I still love music. But by the early 90s I had had enough of being a pop star and I think the public had had enough of me. It was a two way thing. The end of a perfect love affair.”

As her love affair with music began to falter, Wilde discovered a new love – actor Hal Fowler, whom she met while appearing in the West End musical Tommy. The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance and were married in September 1996. They now have two children, Harry, three, and one-year-old Rose. “I had kind of given up on the idea that I would ever meet a man who would be a soul mate”, reveals Wilde. “I had made my mind up not to compromise on that, even though I was in my mid-30s when I met Hal.”

“I was 36 and quite happy with my lot. I was enjoying being in Tommy but then, when I met him, I just knew he was Mr. Right. I’ve always believed that it could happen like that, because that was the way it happened for my own parents .I was brought up on that fairy-tale. After we got married I had this feeling that we would have a family rather quickly – because I was dying to have kids with Hal.”

Wilde developed her interest in gardening when they bought their current home and it just blossomed from there. Wilde is still at college studying for a City and Guilds qualification in planting and planting design. “I find it much easier to learn now than when I was at school”, she says. “I do a lot of studying in the evening when the children are in bed. Initially some of the other students didn’t recognise me. Then everybody seemed to know. I’m just plain Kim Smith to them and they are not interested in who I am. They are just interested in having a chat about plants”, she laughs.

Although Wilde has turned her back on pop music, the family connection is going strong with brother Ricky still writing and younger sister Roxanne, 21, just starting out as the lead singer of the band Dimestars.

So has she passed on any advice to her fledgling pop star sister? “My dad’s attitude was that it was always a job and you are damn lucky to do it”, she says. “So he engendered a humbled approach to it, which I just remind Roxanne of from time to time – but she is very down to earth anyway. We just let her get on with it – it’s the best way.”