League City gardener finds advantages in her way of planting
Mona Kidwell admits she has an addiction to gardening.
“When I go to a nursery, there is no way I’m going to leave there without buying something,” she said.
Kidwell’s front and back yards at her League City home are testaments to that statement.
“When we moved here three years ago, the front yard was already landscaped with trees and shrubs, but I filled it in with annuals for color,” she said. “The backyard became my test garden, and that’s when I discovered the advantage of planting most things in pots.”
Visitors entering the side gate are met with plants in pots in abundance along the fence. A narrow pathway offers views of dinner plate hibiscus, Dutchman pipe vine, Philippine lilies, lion’s tail with orange fuzzy bracts, mandevilla vines and Mexico mint marigold. Upon closer examination, it’s clear the containers holding the plants aren’t ordinary. They’re heavy fabric pots with nifty handles. As you venture toward the rest of the yard, you see them in every direction.
“They are easier to pick up and move around, plus they’re cost-effective and have many advantages — the best one being that when the roots get to the sides, they prune themselves,” Kidwell said. “In regular clay, ceramic and some plastic pots, roots often keep circling and get root-bound. The exception to that are hibiscus plants that prefer plastic.”
Although she has a few things in decorative pots, those are mainly on the patio for color.
“I like playing with color, so I grow perennials in the backyard,” she said. “And since I do a lot of floral arranging, I make sure to always have something in bloom.”
Along the back fence, a few landscaped beds feature a variety of ferns, lavender, roses and Artemisia. Night blooming cereus and angel trumpet are among the mix as is Abutilon Biltmore Ball Gown, which in early spring will be covered with creamy orange blooms with red veins. A garden globe, fruit trees and mums surround Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners.
Pots and more pots take up space here and in no particular order. Some snuggle against a trellis of roses.
“The neat thing about all these pots is if something is getting too much sun or shade, I can just pick it up and move it,” Kidwell said.
During a winter freeze, however, she doesn’t worry about moving them to shelter, she said. She has an abundance of blankets, quilts and tablecloths to cover the frost-sensitive plants, she said.
Walking along the opposite side of the fence are more pots with colorful blooms, such as blue duranta, yellow and pink dahlia and white lady of the night.
Climbing malabar spinach, sage, dill, fennel and other herbs grow along side grapefruit and orange trees, and a few raspberry plants.
A miniature fairy garden that Kidwell constructed with the help of her mother, who crafted the sparklers, is encircled by vines and edibles.
“Everything I grow here is either for food or floral design,” said Kidwell, who already is tilling a big patch of dirt for lettuce.
Although a self-taught gardener, Kidwell likes to give credit to her great-grandfather for her gardening skills.
“I lived next door to my great-grandparents till I was 5 years old, and I remember tagging alongside my great-grandfather as he worked in his garden,” she said. “I used to see him burying what I thought was garbage, but in reality, he was maintaining a compost pile.”
Best gardening tool: Root Slayer shovel
Best organic fertilizer: MicroLife