FE me

30th June 2006 at 01:00
Born: 1960

Job: singer and gardener

Attended: Capel Manor College in north London from 2000-02

Studied: City Guilds in planting and planting design

Kim Wilde had her first pop hit as a 20-year-old with "Kids in America". A total of seven albums followed and she became the UK's all-time best selling female solo artist.

Her pop career was put on hold while she had children, and she made a new name for herself as a gardener - first on TV, for Channel 4's Better Gardens, and then through two books, Gardening with Children and The First-Time Gardener.

"My motivation to go back to college was that I was pregnant, and we had a blank canvas of a garden at home. I felt overwhelmed by it. I had no idea at all that it would be a new career. I just wanted to make a beautiful garden for my own children to grow up in.

"I went on a short two-week summer course in 1997 and the tutor was incredibly gifted. I remember thinking, this is the most fantastic thing I've ever studied. It felt like a light had been switched on, so I went back for more.

"When I was at school, I didn't particularly excel. My parents never used to push me that much.

"But it was brilliant being an adult in education. I used to hate being treated like a kid, even when I was one. At Capel Manor, I loved being treated with respect, the way teachers talked to you rather than at you.

"We had a lovely tutor who has left now, called Janet, but she was very strict and put the fear of God into us.

"Probably my worst moment was at the beginning of the course, when Janet started drawing on the blackboard a picture of the root system of a tree which started to look like something extremely rude in a very graphic way.

I began to giggle and had to pretend to have a coughing fit in the end.

"But I became a bit of an A student. It was fantastic to be top of the class for the first time in my life.

"The rest of the students were really cool. They were genuinely passionate about the subject in the same way that I was. "I've kept in touch. One teacher, Judith Glover, did the illustrations for my first book - we weren't aware at the time, but she is a renowned illustrator.

"The best moments were walking around the gardens, which are beautiful. It was a living classroom."

Kim Wilde was talking to Joseph Lee

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