Leslie Kiger

Hear Me Roar

PY HMR0322

March 2022 Issue
Photography by Mike Force Photography

Leslie Kiger
Ace Garden Center
Green Thumb Extraordinaire
St. Simons Island, GA

Have you always had a green thumb?
Yes! I think I got it from my grandmother on my dad’s side. She lived in a small house in Johnson City, TN (which is where I grew up), and I remember it just being filled with houseplants. My favorite picture of her is at Easter, standing in her front yard, which was a perfect little English cottage garden.

What brought you to St. Simons Island?

My husband was offered a position at FLETC, and we knew we would retire here. We moved here in 2010. We looked at many neighborhoods, but when we drove through the gates into Stillwater, we knew it was where we wanted to be. And it is the perfect spot for walking the dogs—one big circle that is 1.3 miles around.

What is your favorite thing about working with plants?

The simplicity—water, light and some food now and then…and they will reward you with new growth and life. 

What is your favorite plant and why?

I am not sure I can answer because there are just too many. I love the Mexican Cigar plant for the hummingbirds, African Blue Basil for the bees, and Zinnias for the butterflies. My favorite tree has to be a Japanese Maple. 

How can local gardeners adapt to

Coastal Georgia’s unique conditions?
It’s not that hard. Amend your soil. Use peat moss for water holding and compost for nutrition. 

Tell us about your backyard:

We have a lot of deer on the north end of the island. So, my backyard is the only place I can plant all my favorites that the deer would eat otherwise. The back porch is the north side of the house, and it is the perfect spot for all the houseplants that just love to go outside in the warmer weather. I have four different spots that have multiple bird feeders, so I can watch the birds and squirrels eat. My husband built a large trellis against the wall of the garage, and there is a huge lavender Trumpet Vine covering it, with a fountain underneath.  There are two beautiful Japanese Maples and several varieties of perennials and annuals for the bees and butterflies to visit. Plus, a multitude of day lilies and a very fragrant Tea Olive. I sit in the rocking chair on the porch, or on the back steps, and just enjoy the aromas and surrounding view.

What three things inspire you?

Coffee, chocolate and dogs; my life and needs are simple. 

What else inspires you?

I am inspired by the nature around me, or beautiful artwork, or animals, especially the birds and squirrels at my bird feeders. Insects also amaze me, and I find myself spending a lot of time watching them. I am very much an introvert and have to push myself to get out and socialize.
What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not gardening?
Exercise (Yoga, Pilates, Barre and weight training), quilting and spending time with my dogs.

What is your best memory of last year?

We took a trip to Blue Ridge, GA, in November and spent some time seeing fall colors and enjoying the cooler temperatures and lower humidity. We can’t wait to go back!

Who is in your family?

Mark, my husband of 25 years, and our 5 Miniature Pinschers; Bella, Quinn, Elvis, Roxy and Remy. All are rescues from age 2-13. 

I always feel better when…

I like being busy; a productive day always gives me a sense of accomplishment and clarity. 

To hear me ROAR means… 

I am in my zone. Whether it is exercise, work, or just spending time with the dogs, I am fully involved and present. 

I’m ROARING about…

SPRING! It will be here before you know it!

20 Quick Bites:

Cake or Pie? Cake! Chocolate, please.
Traveler or Homebody? Homebody, for sure.
Organized or slightly messy? Horribly messy.
Guacamole or Queso? Guacamole
Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird
Art Museum or Historic Site? Art Museum
Paris or London? Neither, really. Rather Australia.
Fiction or Non-fiction? Fiction
Comedies or Dramas? Police or medical dramas
Black or Navy? Can I answer orange instead?
Plans or Surprises? Plans
English or Math? English
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Zoo or Aquarium? Aquarium
Disney World or Napa Valley? Napa
Singing or Dancing? Singing, I guess, but only in the shower.
Ride an Elephant or Camel? Elephant
James Bond or Batman? Bond, James Bond
Castle or Cottage? Cottage
Aretha Franklin or Beyonce? More like AC/DC

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