Eighties pop icon Kim Wilde received one of the biggest thrills in her life when her Cumbrian fellside garden proved as big a hit as some of her chart-topping tunes at this week's Chelsea Flower Show. The garden, created by Kim and Cumbrian gardener Richard Lucas, was awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at the Royal Horticultural Society event. Their entry was also voted best in show in the Courtyard Garden category.
Delighted Kim said: "This is genuinely as thrilling as any hit record. For our work to be recognised in this way by our peers is as good as it gets." The success will no doubt help Kim's hopes that the garden would "inspire more people to discover and enjoy some of the stunning gardens in Cumbria".
Wild flowers, hawthorns and ferns as well as running water, traditional dry-stone walls and a piece of sheep's wool entangled on barbed wire fencing helped give Kim's garden that Cumbrian feel. She also used £10,000 of green slate from the Honister mine.
Kim is perhaps best known for her pop career in the 1980s, which included 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. But her determination to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for her two children - Rose, five, and seven-year-old Harry - meant she transformed herself from a pop star into a horticulturist.
The move catapulted her into the 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."
Eric Robson, chairman of Cumbria Tourist Board and presenter of Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time, said: "This puts the county on the gardening map and sends out a clear message to visitors that Cumbria is a superb place to enjoy majestic, colourful gardens."