When people hear the name Kim Wilde they start to think of the '80s. They remember a heavenly blonde pop princess, erotic videos and singalong hits like 'Kids in America'. This is not the case in Great Britain. Ever since a couple of years she is wellknown for her green fingers there. Gardening is her new passion. That much is obvious when Kim has us over in her house in green Hertforshire for an interview. She is now 44. Still a class lady with a lot of spunk. This summer you can see her for yourself at Belfortrock in Aalst.
"I have a lot to thank Belgium for", Kim says when we sit down next to her on the gigantic sofa. "In your country I found the hawthorn with which I just won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. That tree perfected my show garden." The Chelsea Flower Show, you should know, is the Oscars of the gardening world. During a week the event is broadcast on television in the UK. "I still receive lots of cards with congratulations every day", Kim smiles, while hugging a red pillow on the sofa.
One can tell that Kim is proud of her achievement from her house. Her golden and platinum albums, referring to her successes of the past, are nowhere to be seen, but the gold medal of Chelsea is standing on a cupboard, next to a portrait of Kim's children Rose and Harry ("Harry has just started choir practice, he's got a very beautiful voice").
Kim Wilde has found a second life with her passion for gardening. You can call her the Gerty Christoffels from the UK. She presents a gardening programme on British television, writes books about the subject and even competes in these shows. One might forget that here's a famous pop star.
"I am still involved with music though. I love Keane and Franz Ferdinand, I like to listen to r&b, and I adore Rufus Wainwright. I could take the plane to New York just to see him play live. But I do enjoy silence as well nowadays. My children are very noisy, that's their age now. And my husband Hal likes to sing in the house. So if I can I like to have some peace and quiet."
We find the silence in her garden around her wooden barn which is centuries old. There is a green valley in the vicinity, where there isn't a house to be seen. Just trees, meadows and horses. When we step from the terrace, Kim shows us her vegetable garden. She grows salad and onions there, but also strawberries and artichokes. "I don't grow everything to eat it. I want my children to discover plants and vegetables. To have them smell, touch and taste, to have their senses aroused."
Next to the vegetable garden there is a spacious terrace with an old waterpit and colourful and fragrant flowers. When we walk along the lavender path under a gate with ivy to the garden shack under a weeping willow I am sold. There is a magic fairy living here with green fingers.
Kim beams. "I came and lived here when I was thirty. I had enough of the busy life in London and I longed for Hertfordshire, where I grew up. But it wasn't until '96, when I got married, that I really started making the garden. We wanted to have this beautiful garden as well as kids. And because there was no time to make a garden when the kids were there, I decided to work on that first. I went back to college, and that changed my life. Gardening isn't the national passion of Britain for nothing, I understand that now. It is possible to be so creative in the garden! I like to be surrounded with perfect plants, but still it does take years to really appreciate their beauty sometimes..."
As of five years ago, Kim is singing again. "I haven't made any records for ten years. My career was over anyway, or so I thought. I didn't want to sing 'Kids in America' anymore. But what I really needed was just a breather, some time off. I realise that now."
When she had a big hit all over Europe with the duet 'Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime' with that other eighties icon Nena, Kim is wanted as a singer all over again. "I never expected that to happen", she laughs. "I am very close to signing a new record deal. But I have learned one thing: I won't take myself as seriously as I did in the old days. I am happy just to sing my old songs." Like she will on Belfortrock Aalst, where she will sing old hits like 'Cambodia', 'You keep me hangin' on' and 'Kids in America'.
Kim Wilde is headliner at Belfortrock Aalst, together with Clouseau. More information and tickets via www.belfortrock.be