Date: 7 April 2006
Originally published in: Daily Ireland (Ireland)
Pop star turned garden expert Kim Wilde, who won her first gold medal at Chelsea last year, remembers only too well what it’s like to be a beginner in the garden. She got the bug when she used gardening as a therapy after a hectic schedule of travelling and performing.
“I vividly remember returning from a working trip abroad still dressed in tight black trousers and a shoulder-padded jacket and going straight out into the garden to train my pyracantha. I haven’t changed much,” she says.
Like all new gardeners, at the beginning she made a lot of mistakes and, with this in mind, she has brought out a back-to-basics book, First Time Gardener, helping to inspire newcomers with the confidence they need to make the most of their garden.
Kim says: “The book is based on my own experience of jumping in at the deep end without making adequate preparation and planning, which is the natural response of anyone who gets really excited in the spring, finds themselves in a garden centre and falls in love with a beautiful spring-flowering kerria or forsythia, gets home, puts it in the garden and then wonders why it doesn’t look as beautiful as it did in the garden centre. The reason is that because in the garden centre there were 20 other forsythias looking fantastic at the same time. I have fumbled through, made mistakes and tried to put my experiences into some coherent manner.”
Her advice to beginners is: “Anyone who is going to take up gardening for the first time should get their noses into some books and just read a bit about what plants require to thrive.”
It’s also important to consider how much time you have, and set yourself a budget.
“The vast majority of your budget is going to be spent on manpower – for instance, someone to lay your patio. Materials can be picked up here and there. Plants are quite expensive, too,” she notes.
If you are wondering how to design your garden, visit some gardens close to you, she says.
“See how plants work well and what you like about the garden you are walking around,” she advises. “You have to think about what your own style is. Flick through magazines to look at different styles and think which one will fit in with your home.”
Kim appreciates that for some, creating a new garden is a daunting prospect.
“If you don’t trust your own instincts, it is worth paying for professional advice and searching for a designer to come and give you a consultation.”
First-time Gardener, by Kim Wilde, is published by Collins, priced £17.99/€26.