Chart-topping popstar Kim Wilde spent her honeymoon in Cumbria, brings her family to the Lake District three times a year for their holidays, and now dreams of retiring here. So it was not surprising when the Eighties pop icon turned celebrity gardener chose the county as her inspiration for the garden she is creating at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Kim was in the county this week to gain some last-minute ideas from the historical gardens that attract millions of tourists to the region every year.
She also visited the Honister slate mine to give the thumbs up to the ?10,000 of green slate she has ordered for the Cumbrian fellside garden. Her visit was also organised to help launch Cumbria Tourist Board's new guide to the gardens, parks and wildlife in the county.
Kim, speaking exclusively to The Cumberland News about her planned garden, hinted that she could be planning to spend her retirement in the Lake District, which is home to her husband's parents Rob and Penny Fowler. Penny is a celebrated artist based in the Newlands Valley near Derwentwater. "I'm a relative newcomer and don't know Cumbria extensively well but would like to wake up to this [the Lake District] every day," Kim said.
Kim is perhaps best known for her music, which includes her first hit single Kids In America, a five-month European tour with Michael Jackson, and US No 1 You Keep Me Hangin' On. In 1994 she appeared as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast, before playing the female lead in the musical Tommy in 1995. When she spent her honeymoon with husband Hal in the Lake District in 1996, Kim found herself falling head over heels in love with the county.
Her determination to provide fresh fruit and veg for her two children - Rose, five, and seven-year-old Harry - meant she transformed herself from a pop star into a horticulturist and this has catapulted her into a new career - though she still relies on concert performances to pay the bills.
"I've now found something to supersede my passion for music and have used Cumbria as my inspiration," she says. "Historical figures such as John Ruskin and William Wordsworth were totally bowled over by its beauty, and their gardens have rubbed off on me."
Wild flowers, hawthorns and ferns as well as running water, local slate and traditional dry-stone walls will help give Kim's farmyard garden that Cumbrian feel. Her creation will feature at the world-famous flower show from May 25-28.