Between the patch at the stage

Kim Wilde was a popstar in the Eighties. Then she had children and devoted herself to a big garden. A talk about animals in her wood, the healing power of gardening and failed purchases.

Miss Wilde, what do you like about gardening?
I got bored with the music industry some time ago. My career went down and there were no more challenges. I’d seen the world, worked hard and had had a lot of success. I also knew what a lack of success meant. Happily I got to know my husband. I firmly believe that when you close one door, another door opens.

The other door was gardening?
Yes, suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands and a big garden. What should I do with it? And so I studied horticulture. It was a long way away from the character Kim Wilde, from lipstick and make-up. Wonderful. I thought I’d never return to the stage and would be devoted to my children from then on. Now I am happy that it turned out differently.

Don’t children and a career in pop music go together?
I believe in fate. I always knew I wanted to make music. Also later when I had children. It’s not always ideal, when you’re away from your children. They don’t like it. My mum was always at home, but I had the feeling that she gave up on something, which she didn’t want to. Children do accept it when parents follow their own path.

There aren’t many older women in pop.
I don’t know why. I can’t speak for others. I had a long pause when I got married and had children. I found other things that inspired me too. I was over 40 and was suddenly able to learn something new. I was very average in school and didn’t feel confident that I could do anything different. Singing was the only thing I knew I could do. I felt really dumb aside from that. It was fantastic, being able to study.

You were successful in gardening, won a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, wrote books about gardening. What kind of a garden do you have?
It often looks great, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s full of plants that I love. At the moment it hurts me a little. When the tour is over, I will take care of the garden more. The plants are always there, the tubers are drifting so slowly. The beauty, all the colours will come soon again. After all these years the garden has grown up with us. We have had it since the children were born. Now they are 18 and 20 years old. Even my husband is now interested in horticulture. In our community he takes care of a project that uses plants as a therapy for mental illness. Being out there is very healing. There’s nothing better than being outside, being in the garden, cleaning up, planting things. The great thing is, it can be done everywhere. There’s space where you can plant.

Your garden is very large. It has become a wood.
We have turn a big plot into a wood. There’s lots of animals out there: many birds, small mammals, deer, owls, woodpeckers – it’s full of life. We have given thousands of animals a home. That’s great isn’t it?

You have also planted vegetables and fruit.
When the children grew up, we did that. It was hard labour, to take care of the children, the garden, and the vegetables all at the same time. Planting vegetables is difficult anyway. You have to scare away animals because they want to eat it all. We might try again someday.

Right now your garden is decoration.
It’s very important to me, that the plants are on the right place. It’s all about aesthetics, it has to be balanced and well composed. I have a plan, what should be planted where. Even when it doesn’t look like that at first sight.

What is the biggest mistake you made in the garden?
There are a few. I planted santolina along an avenue. It looked good for a few weeks, but then it didn’t. It was a very expensive experience. Very stupid.