Friday, December 27, 2013


I usually do a '10 best plants' for each year. But this year was so filled with surprises, I thought it best to get them recorded. Not all of them were positive surprises and some were downright terrible.
Still, all in all, this was a very good year for gardening along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Here are my top 10 surprises.

1st place:
The house and garden next door are no more.
This was both good and bad. Watching them cut down the beautiful trees will always be one of the worst days of my life. But having more sunlight in my garden is a new and wonderful experience since my garden has been in mostly shade for the past 25 years.

2nd place:
The front cottage garden had its best year ever!
I tried over a dozen new plants and all of them worked nicely with what we already had.
The new types of sun coleus grew all summer without wilting.

Surprise #3: I had time to build a patio.
This was the high point of the past gardening year. 

Surprise #4: 
After 5 years, the plumerias finally bloomed!

Surprise #5: I had time to build a greenhouse wall.
I'm still not finished, but at least one wall is done. :0)

Surprise #6: It rained a lot during this third year of the Texas drought.
We are almost 10 inches behind on our annual rainfall, but we are still in much better shape than a year ago.

Surprise #7: Some of the builders are keeping the trees!
Our tall, majestic pines are the signature tree of this part of Houston.
Thankfully, some of the new homes have valued the forest canopy.
Thank-you from the bottom of my heart!

Surprise #8: I built an entire fence! It was the longest project of the summer. 

Surprise #9: Tropical Texana still hasn't had a freeze in almost 3 years!
But we are bound to get one in January or February of 2014.
BTW: This shot is from the summer. My garden does NOT look like this in December.

Garden surprise #10: I have new garden art and statuary.
I inherited many fabulous gifts from the garden next door (the one that was demolished) including this
fun cat statue. Out cat Binky wants to make friends with the newest member of the garden family.
Well, that's it for today. I am hoping 2014 won't be quite as dramatic.
We shall see.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Those are some great surprises! I'm loving all your garden projects. The greenhouse wall and patio are fantastic! Yay for your plumerias:) Hope you have a Happy New Year!

  2. All in all it sounds like you had a pretty good year. I wish you Happy Gardening for the new year!

  3. Amazing the things you can grow there. I love your patio and what is that gorgeous palm tree? Does you Plumeria grow outside? I love your garden.

  4. Most of those are nice surprises which is a good thing. Your garden did look great all summer. It does seem we are bound for more cold this winter. There have been too many freezes in SA already this year.

    Such a cute pose for Binky with the new cat in the garden.

  5. What a wonderful line-up of positive developments! Binky looks especially photogenic next to the concrete likeness. I can only wish that we'll experience the return of some healthy precipitation as you did - the LA Times posted an article today stating that 2013 produced the lowest levels of rain on record since 1877 - just 3.6 inches, with nothing on the foreseeable horizon.

  6. So many wonderful surprises, David! I am impressed with your 2013 cottage garden ... it is just perfect! I love the patio and the greenhouse wall, too -- and just about everything else. Wishing you am equally successful 2014. P. x

  7. I didn't realize you had completed so many projects this year! You've been busy. :o) I'm so glad the builders left some of the trees. All your new neighbors will be wishing they had left a lot more next summer!

  8. A nice look back. Your garden has really done well, this year.
    We've had many freezes this year. And, more rain than expected. At times, a bit TOO much rain.

    Wishing you lots of good surprises for 2014. Happy New Year.

  9. Losing all those trees was surely sad...yet, you're right...all that extra light was a definite benefit. Happy New Year!

  10. What an beautifully industrious year you've had. Good rainfall, new patio, lots of projects in the rearview mirror -- doesn't get any better than that. Happy new year!

  11. I quite enjoyed each one of these, David, except of course for the loss of the trees next door. But the silver lining of welcome sunshine is at least some consolation. All your additions look fantastic, and so does your garden in summer. I can't believe Houston hasn't had a freeze in 3 years. Your blog is more aptly named than I realized.

  12. Overall, a pretty good year. I've always enjoyed your blog and have finally joined the ranks. Thanks for the inspiration and Happy New Year!

  13. That was truly a memorable count-down.
    Have a wonderful New Year with lots of promises to look forward to.
    I love the cat figurine - goes so well with the real one too.


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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