Landscape to inspire

Kim Wilde, the daughter of 50s rock ‘n’ roll star Marty Wilde, who made her name as a pop singer in the 1980s, has more recently found success as a garden designer and writer. Her first book Gardening with Children was published in April 2005 and the working title of her next book is the First Time Gardener. Her love for Cumbria and its natural assets inspired her to create the Cumbrian Fellside Garden with co-designer Richard Lucas for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show winning a coveted Gold Medal at their first attempt. She has also designed show gardens for the annual Garden Festival at Holker Hall.

“I first visited Cumbria in 1996 for a two-day break from appearing in the West End musical Tommy and the area has had a huge impact on my life. It is uniquely beautiful and oe of the most romantic places in the world – and I have travelled pretty widely. I realise I am a fairly recent Cumbrian convert – my husband’s parents live near Derwentwater – but I am infatuated with so many aspects of the place.

Because it is a National Park I know it is well protected and although I do not claim to be an expert, I realise that careful decisions need to be made to find the right balance between encouraging tourism and protecting its beauty.

So many people rely on tourist-related businesses for their livelihood, but it is important that tourism is developed in a sustainable way. We must ensure that nothing is done that would spoil the very landscape and beauty which draws people to visit this special part of the country.

That’s why I support the ‘Fix The Fells’ campaign to protect the footpaths. I do quite a lot of walking when I visit the Lakes and it’s vital that we keep the footpaths safe for future generations. I want my children to walk the same paths that I enjoy now.

There must be an integrated transport policy, a unique strategy to tackle the traffic problems of Cumbria. Wildlife must continue to be protected. When we visit my husband’s parents, we often see a red squirrel, hopping confidently along the wall, despite the work of the grey squirrel bullies to squeeze them out. I really hope our grandchildren will still be able to see these rare and beautiful animals in the wild.

I’m happy that gardening has had such an impact on preserving our wildlife all over the UK. There are lots of initiatives to encourage children to create wildlife gardens in schools as part of the National Curriculum, and others to advise all gardeners how to invest in the right plants to help the survival of so many species. This has realy started to matter to so many people in the last ten years.

We have desigtned a Cumbrian garden for Chelsea this year, working with materials such as slate, timber and willow produced from sustainable sources or reclaimed materials. And we have used local craftspeople to weave willow and sculpt some urns for the garden.

I believe that being out there in the countryside enables you to focus on the most important aspects of your life. And those who decide to pursue a creative ambition, quite spontaneously, are usually successful.”