Wilde about plants

Date
Published in
Westmorland Gazette (UK)
Written by
Karen Barden

In a crowd of thousands, the blonde with a ponytail could easily go unnoticed - plant person, mother, pretty ordinary woman. Turn back the clock a couple of decades and remember Kim Wilde, the pouting sex chick of the charts, with the world at her feet. Rock star to gardener in one wild career move, and the singer voted Britain's best with more than 30 singles and ten albums under her belt says life has never been better. She talks of the wonders of planting, how in the garden the only music she hears comes from the wind and her two young children's laughter.
"It's like I' ve been given another chance. I've been able to do it all differently, in the same life," she explains.
Her green-fingered foray began when she bought a 16th century barn and set about transforming a patch of land. She went to night school and has just completed a City and Guilds course in planting and design. Half the other students hadn't a clue who she was.
The TV gardening slots have given some great buzzes, an amazing admission from the woman who found instant fame with first single Kids in America and has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the most charted British female vocalist.
Her singing foundation stone was laid early. Father Marty Wilde was the 50s rock `n' roll icon and mother Joice Baker sang too. As a child it wasn' t always easy having a famous dad and Kim spent early school days desperate to melt in with the gang. "I always ended up standing out because of who I was. I became very self-effacing in an effort to ingratiate myself with friends.
"It's been great having a second chance at learning. At night school I was the star pupil in plant design and got distinctions. I was a totally dedicated pupil."
The Wilde household always reverberated with sound. "We all used to sing in close harmony. We had a fantastic record collection and were brought up listening to music.
"I used to go around on roller skates dreaming I would be the next Agnetha Faltskog from Abba and that I would be a big star on stage. There was always a great desire to be a pop star."
Kim laughs and says she has recently taken part in Fabba night in her local village, joining a tribute band to sing the Abba greats. Her brother Ricky had been messing round composing a song in his bedroom. It turned out to be Kids in America.
By then an art student, Kim was to do the backing vocals, but when owner of RAK Records Mickie Most spotted the stunning blonde in her black and white striped pants, he saw a star. Kids in America had instant success, climbing to number two in the UK charts and becoming a Top 30 hit in the States. The debut album Kim Wilde followed, so did other big singles Chequered Love and Water on Glass. By 1982, Kim had already sold more records than her father had done in his entire career.
"Fame was isolating," she concedes. "It was a lonely time. My family and friends stuck by me though. The worst part was being stalked. It happened several times.
"A few weeks ago there was someone in my next door neighbour's garden, watching. I used to think it was just a pain, until Jill Dando's death, now it is all very unnerving."
When Kim was asked to appear in the English production of Tommy, in 1996, she had no idea it would change her life. She was sharing star billing with Hal Fowler and became his leading lady - on and off stage. He proposed in the July and they married in September. Kim had been longing for motherhood.
"I felt I had outgrown the whole music scene, and it had outgrown me. As soon as I met Hal, I thought here is the perfect person. He ticked all the boxes. Of course, I'd already done quite a lot of research in finding the perfect man!"
Pregnant with first child Harry, she wanted to grow fresh fruit and vegetables for her family. What started as a passing interest became a passionate affair. She went on to be guest designer on ITV's Better Gardens, has appeared in Garden Invaders, writes for monthly magazine Prima, and produced daughter Rose.
"TV is really good for me. I enjoy communicating my passion. I have always given everything 1,000 per cent. I get so wound up with things. I'm full on, all the time, like a big volcanic eruption."