Date: 1 September 2008
Originally published in: Mature Times (UK)
Written by: Tony Watts
Tony Watts talks to Kim Wilde about gardens, children and her famous dad.
For once, singer turned gardener, Kim Wilde, and daughter of pop icon Marty Wilde, isn’t on stage belting out 80s classics or in the garden. She’s talking to journalists like myself, fronting a new campaign to persuade us all to make our gardens even greener by being environmentally-friendly.
Kim has teamed up with Yorkshire Bank and the National Trust to encourage people to adopt some simple ideas that people can try in their back gardens, allotments and school yards – including composting, worm farms, rain water collection and growing their own veg.
For Kim, who comes across as a remarkably down-to-earth person (no pun intended!), it’s a natural extension of her love of gardening, which began when she started her family. “I just wanted my children to be able to enjoy a natural environment”, she says. “We’ve got two and a half acres, which isn’t as much hard work as it sounds, as a lot of it is turned over to woodland – and that makes me feel a lot less guilty about all my air miles!
“But we grow our own vegetables, create our own compost to condition the soil and it’s lovely to get the kids involved. They’re eight and ten now, and for us all to be out there working in the garden is a great way to connect with your children – or your grandchildren. Rosy is very keen to help, while Henry enjoys all the raspberries!”
And no, she insists, you don’t need a big plot to grow your own fruit and veg. “Containers are brilliant ideas”, she says, “and so easy to look after. With food prices going through the roof, there’s never been a better time to grow your own.” And as I can attest, having spent the last three days hacking back my quarter of an acre, it’s also superb exercise. “If you’re looking to keep fit, there’s no better workout”, agrees Kim.
After putting her music career on hold to have her family – and pursue her love of gardening – Kim is back globetrotting and discovering that her fan base from the 1980s has never really gone away. But why should it – the fans that loved her dad in the late 1950s and ’60s are still going to his concerts … over 50 years since he began his career. “He’s very sprightly and going stronger than ever”, says Kim. And when he’s not on stage he’s still producing and writing. Those of you who know your pop history will remember that it was her father and brother Ricki who wrote “Kids in America”, the single which launched her music career globally.
Not that her going into music as a career was ever going to be in doubt. “Dad had me doing backing vocals in the studio and on stage when I was a teenager”, she recalls.
“And we had so much brilliant music playing all the time in the house – Carol King, Aretha Franklin – that I just grew up with it.” It also helped, of course, being one of the most glamorous singers of her time: having a good looking dad, and Joyce Baker, of the Vernons Girls as her mum, certainly helped there!
These days, she tells me, she has the perfect work-life balance… enjoying a revival of her own career, with her garden to return to when she comes back off the road. “It’s still my passion”, she says. “Perhaps it’s being British – we do seem to love our gardens in this country!”