‘I loved becoming a gardener so much it was a bit like a religious conversion’

Kim Wilde, 47, transformed her career when she went from 80s pop star to gardener. She lives in Herfordshire with her husband, Hal Fowler, and their children, Harry, ten, and Rosie, eight.

Back in 1995, I was going through a professional crisis. I was desperate to get out of the pop industry because I was bored of the travelling, and felt unfulfilled and isolated. When I was offered a part in the West End musical Tommy, I thought, ‘Fantastic, I get to sleep in the same bed for a year and have some stability in my life’. I saw it as my ticket out.

Meeting Hal, who was a fellow actor in Tommy, gave me the confidence to make my escape. After we married in 1996, I had a new name, a new identity and new aspirations. We bought a house with a plot of uncultivated land, which I was determined to turn into a garden for our future children to enjoy.

Within a year, I was pregnant. On a friend’s recommendation, I enrolled in a summer course in plant design at Capel Manor College in Enfield. As soon as I started, I became captivated by the whole subject – from botany to garden design. It was like a religious conversion, it just felt right, and I had so much energy for it and tremendous support from Hal.

After I had Harry, I was asked to present ‘Garden Invaders’. It was hard work, I got a lot of flak from certain parts of the horticultural community who felt I was there because of my fame, rather than talent. I felt I had to work twice as hard to prove I was more than just a pouting pop star. But I was determined to prove the doubters wrong.

After having Rosie, I took a two-year evening course at Capel Manor. All my hard work paid off at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2005, when my co-designer, Richard Lucas, and I won a gold medal for our courtyard garden. It was the most incredible day. If anyone wanted to make a film about my life, it could end there.

Kim is supporting the W-Icon campaign, which sees the Women’s Institute and Sky joining forces to find the new face of the WI. For details, visit sky.com/w-icon.