Tropical cottage style in Diane and Tom Peace’s garden


Diane and Tom Peace of Lockhart, 30 miles south of Austin, live and garden in two very different regions: south-central Texas from winter through early spring, and Denver, Colorado, from late spring through fall. Tom, a grower and nurseryman, owns Texas Mountain Flora in Lockhart, operates a design business in Denver, and is author of the book Sunbelt Gardening. I’d seen his and Diane’s Lockhart garden on Central Texas Gardener, and so I jumped at the chance to visit after a mutual friend introduced us.


Although I’d seen it on CTG, I was still surprised, as I wandered the garden’s narrow limestone paths, by how tropical it feels with wine-red bromeliads (in containers), ferns, palms, and other bold-leaved plants, which mingle in cottage-garden exuberance with cool-season annuals, lush groundcovers, and flowering perennials.


Jungle fever! It looks a bit like Florida to me.


As their collection of shiny disco balls dangling from a tree makes clear, Tom and Diane are having fun with their garden, playfully experimenting with what can grow in our mild winters while still surviving summer’s heat and humidity.


Patio living is pretty great during the cooler months, when they’re in Texas.


Evergreen structural plants like nolina, palm, bamboo, and yucca keep the garden interesting even when frost has killed back the perennials. Potted tropicals on the patio and in garden beds make warm-season accents. (They have a greenhouse off the back of the house to protect these plants in winter.)


Several unique sculptural pieces accent the garden too, like this glass-block tower bringing light to a shady corner.


A gigantic rebar trellis erupts from the middle of a path…


…supporting a delicate, bell-flowered clematis.


So sweet


Looking at the rebar trellis from the other side


Their garden showcases an interesting juxtaposition of plants, like this aloe keeping company with violas and a little white daisy.


On one side the garden, a grass path cuts through a border of purple violas, oxalis, and other annuals, with wine-bottle edging or hose guards. At the end of the path, a colorful bent-metal post, folded like origami, beckons you forward.


Another view


Nearly black bromeliads and a squid agave grow along a gravel path…


…under the shade of an arching palm frond.


Palms and bamboo (a runner planted by a neighbor, Diane said, which they continually have to whack back) create a green screen along the fence line.


Echoing the rounded “head” and skinny trunk of a tall palm behind it, a Yucca rostrata was in spectacular bloom.


A spray of creamy white flowers rises above the strappy leaves.


Strappy foliage echoes


Diane couldn’t stay during the visit because of a family obligation, so I wasn’t able to ask about plant IDs. But I’m so glad for the chance to explore her and Tom’s unique garden and hope to see their Denver garden one day too — which she says is bigger and even more enjoyable for them because of the lower humidity and lack of mosquitoes, the banes of summer gardening in Central Texas. But for winter through spring gardening, well, Texas has Denver beat!


Thanks for the lovely garden visit, Diane!

P.S. My friend Diana joined me on this garden visit, so you might at some point find more pics on her blog, Sharing Nature’s Garden.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar for the Inside Austin Gardens Tour on May 6, sponsored by Travis County Master Gardeners. This fun garden tour occurs every 18 months and features a mix of homegrown gardens “for gardeners, by gardeners,” as their tagline says.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts — performances in private homes, which support musicians and give a small audience an up-close and personal musical experience — I’m hosting a series of garden talks by design speakers out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

Gorgeous flowering of a pond iris and more


As buds began to swell last week, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the flowering of my pond iris. And this morning, three burgundy, yellow-throated flowers unfurled.


They look especially picturesque as viewed against the turquoise shed doors.


Several more buds mean more flowers to come.


Jenny/Rock Rose gave me a division of this lovely iris in 2015. It bloomed for me that year, but last year…nothing.


So you can see why I’m excited about it now.


Other plants are in full bloom as well, including the pomegranate tree next to the beaked yucca.


Dozens of frilly, orange flowers resemble juju hats…


…or, when seen closer, ruffly crepe-paper flowers.


On the other side of the garden, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) perfumes the upper patio.


And although it’s not my garden, I have to share a sweet spring image of golden columbines, like shooting stars, at Zilker Botanical Garden last Saturday.


Oh, and congrats to Austin gardener Ruthie Burrus, whose charming stone garden haus smothered in ‘Peggy Martin’ roses appears in the current issue of Southern Living (April 2017)! I had the pleasure of visiting Ruthie’s garden a couple of years ago; click for the full tour.


And here’s the magazine cover if you want to pick up a copy to read all about her garden haus and roses.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts — performances in private homes, which support musicians and give a small audience an up-close and personal musical experience — I’m hosting a series of garden talks by design speakers out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

New flowers opening each day


Regular readers know that my shady, dry, deer-infested patch of dirt is not a flowerlicious garden. And yet even I have, oh, at least 6 or 7 flowers in bloom as spring kicks off here in Austin. Like this sweet, nodding Chinese ground orchid (Bletilla striata). I bought one several years ago to see how it would do. Answer? Not much…until this year. Maybe it liked all the rain?


Now I’m tempted to buy more. It looks especially nice paired with purple-leaved oxalis (Oxalis triangularis).


Let’s bring that oxalis into focus, shall we?


For more purple, one need only look out front, where my earliest iris (sold as ‘Amethyst Flame’ but lately I’m not so sure) is flowering.


A trio of ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckias in a steel pipe planter echoes a hint of the purple. The middle plant is starting to bloom, although each day I look outside expecting the deer to have gotten it overnight.


It sure is pretty for now, like flowering candy corn! (One of the dyckias took a hit this winter, and I’m waiting to see if it’ll recover.)


Clambering along the back fence, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’) is my showiest plant right now, with tubular, open-throated flowers seeming to sing a chorus of welcome to spring.


Delicately parachuting from slender stems along a shadier section of the fence is white potato vine (Solanum jasminoides).


They look so pretty backlit by the sun.


I can rarely bring myself to cut my (very few) flowers from the garden, so I’ve been buying bouquets at the grocery store. I’m enjoying this flowery time of year both outdoors and in.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts — performances in private homes, which support musicians and give a small audience an up-close and personal musical experience — I’m hosting a series of garden talks by design speakers out of my home. The upcoming talk with James deGrey David has sold out, but join the Garden Spark email list for speaker announcements delivered to your inbox; simply click this link and ask to be added. Subscribers get advance notification when tickets go on sale for these limited-attendance events.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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