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…