The Day Team at Chatsworth

21 October 2003

Kim is interviewed by John Craven about the best plants and shrubs for winter gardens. She also mentions the upcoming Australia tour and the 80s tour of the UK.

What do you reckon to the Chatsworth Gardens?
It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s the first time I’ve been here and it just goes to show how fantastic a garden can look in winter.

There’s some wonderful frost on all of the flowers this morning.
Yeah, it’s absolutely beautiful.

What about this transition of yours, from mega popstar to greenfingered goddess?
Well, it started about seven years ago when Hal and I got married and we wanted to have some children. Now we’ve got our little three year old Rose and five year old Harry, we wanted to grow a garden of Eden for them to grow up in, and it all started from our own back yard!

Had you any experience before in gardening?
Very, very little, and I went back to college for a few years and did a City & Guilds on Thursday nights,

What did everybody in the class make of having Kim Wilde there with them?
I think only a few of them recognised, actually, and we were all quite plant anorak enough to just sit around talking about our favourite plants. They were a good lot, they just came around a few weeks ago actually for a reunion.

And now of course, you’ve got a gardening programme, Garden Invaders, haven’t you? And a column in a national newspaper about gardening.
Yeah, it’s amazing where it’s all brought me, it’s a far cry from the heady days of ‘Kids in America’ in 1981, you know I’d never thought I’d be standing here talking to you.

And have you got a perfect garden now, do you reckon, of your own?
Well, it’s well underway, I mean we love our garden, we’ve got a little meadow, we grow vegetables for the children, they grow their own vegetables too, we’ve got a formal park, we’ve got a place where there are perennials, it’s onward going really.

I can hear the Chatsworth clock chiming 10 o’clock, it’s four minutes late.
Time for a cup of coffee, it’s cold!

(second part)

They say gardening is the new rock ‘n’ roll, so who better to talk to us about creating a winter garden than Kim Wilde. Hello, Kim, again. This looks like a fading late summer garden now, doesn’t it?
It is, but actually it’s still holding on to some really good structure and some lovely texture and colours. These are all perennial plants which will still stand really well throughout the winter months. And they’re looking really well now, I think.

Yes, and let them stay here until the seeds fall?
Absolutely. They’re providing a good source of food for the wildlife as well as really adding structure to the borders and looking really good.

Right about now, a lot of people are just grubbing up their gardens, aren’t they? Waiting till the spring.
They are, I mean, in the winter, the structure of the garden really comes to life, it’s the bones of the garden, it’s the test of your garden design. There’s plenty of that going on here at Chatsworth.

You can see it here, can’t you?
Well exactly. From the parks right through to the statues and the stairs, but more importantly the evergreen planting, the ‘U’ hedges, the holly hedges, the lovely serpentine hedge, that frames the view of the duke perfectly, so Chatsworth is very… it’s a fantastic winter garden.

But you could do exactly the same thing on a much smaller scale in your own back garden, could you?
Sure, just as long as you get the structure of your garden just right. Mostly with evergreens and good basic design. You provide a stage for the rest of the planting to perform really well throughout the year. And of course in the winter when it comes into its own.

And structures you mean things like urns, whatever?
Exactly, or trellis work, or walls, paths, I mean these are all the permanent features that are going to really stand out in the winter when all of the beautiful planting has disappeared.

And is it possible to create scents in a winter garden?
That’s the great thing about winter gardens, they have to work much harder in winter, the flower plants, to attract the few insects that can make it through these cold conditions so they push out these really sexy scents and you have like the very spicy hamamelis or witch-hazel, or you have lovely rich vanilla fragrance from Sarcococca, or lovely lily of the valley scents, so you can have a really have a beautifully scented winter garden.

So your message is ‘don’t give up on your garden in winter time’?
Absolutely not, there’s so much to be enjoyed in the winter garden, and if you’re having a look at your garden now and thinking ‘I haven’t got any of that in my garden’ get out and do something about it.

What’s gonna happen to your winter garden, because you haven’t given up on pop music have you? And you’re going to be away during December?
Well I am, I’m going to Australia doing the Here & Now Eighties tour in just a few… next week I think and after that I’m doing the Here & Now Tour in December which is all us Eighties lot, Howard Jones and ABC and Heaven 17 and T’Pau, so it’s quite.. mad isn’t it? (laughs)

So who’s going to be looking after the garden?
It looks after itself.