From Wilde girl of pop to a sister of the soil

Now that gardening is her full-time career, former pop star Kim Wilde is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Or her face, for that matter.

Her transformation from pouting pop princess to earth mother was evident during preparations for the Royal Horticultural Society show at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

With her once vertically sprayed bleach-blonde hair scrunched under a baseball cap and the heavy black eyeliner of her youth replaced by liberal dollops of mud, she was unrecognisable from her chart-topping days. Miss Wilde, 41, rolled up her sleeves as she got down to work designing a garden inspired by The Lord Of The Rings.

She is helping Countryside Properties plc’s landscaping director David Fountain transform a modest house front into Bilbo Baggins’s home Bag End as the company’s entry for the show. It features a round door, small leaded windows and large timber beams and supports set into a wildflower grass hill planted with meadow foxtail, crested dogtail and oxeye daisies.

Miss Wilde – daughter of Fifties and Sixties pop star Marty Wilde – had hits including Kids In America and You Keep Me Hangin’ On and performed in concert all over the world. She released ten hit albums and more than 30 singles.

She took a garden design course five years ago after appearing in the West End production of the musical Tommy, where she met her husband, actor Hal Fowler.

Three years ago she presented the ITV show Better Gardens and went on to present the BBC’s Garden Invaders. The couple have two children, Rosie, two, and Harry, four, and live in a 400-year-old converted barn in Hertfordshire. Although she has been on Eighties revival tours, Miss Wilde says she does not miss the attention she once received as a pop star.

“These days, It’s me who’s in awe of leading plantsmen”, she once said. “I was even quite tongue-tied when I met Alan Titchmarsh”.

The four-day show at Tatton Park begins today and around 100,000 visitors are expected. It was there last year that Miss Wilde made her debut in a major flower show. She designed an Alice in Wonderland garden which won the ‘best in show’ medal.