Tuesday, December 3, 2013

fring 2013

We returned from a four-day Thanksgiving trip on Friday November 29 to find that this year's rainy season had started the night before. Thus the official start of fring, the spring-like season brought on by Southern California's fall rains.

On Saturday I took inventory. Narcissus and freesia bulbs were sprouting. Calla lilies (sprouted during the dry months) were unfurling their broad leaves on noticeably taller stems. Fattening jade plant and ice plant were starting to bloom, sweet violets were standing tall, and a single volunteer sweet pea seedling stood next to the kalanchoes. It's too early to expect any Idaho daffodils.

Jade Plant

Calla Lily

Perhaps my greatest fring surprise is the false dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) I had been trying to keep alive in a container. This plant was totally new to me when I admired its striking pink blossoms in my friend Nancy's* late August garden As soon as I asked about it, Nancy started pulling up great handfuls. She told me to come back for more if these didn't grow for me. At the time, I had no good place for them in the garden and felt that it was too hot and dry for a new plant. I stuck them in water till they made some new roots, and then potted them.

As the dragonheads shed their blossoms and then their leaves, I started using the same pot to root kalanchoe cuttings. Sure enough, fring brought the dragon heads to life, and inch-high shoots were coming up at the base of each dry stem. The roots had managed to stay alive, and I'm thinking of planting them next to the African white irises which bloom off and on all year.

False Dragonhead Sprouts
So why are they called false dragonheads? According to Wikipedia, they were once thought to be part of the genus Dracocephalum, but both true and false dragonheads are part of the huge mint family (Lamiaceae). Wikipedia also says they are rhizomatous. I don't remember any rhizomes when I planted them, but we'll see when they come out of the pot. This will be soon, I hope.

Fring will be replaced by wring on December 21. A short but intense season, barely long enough to get the false dragonheads established, but promising many pleasures along the way.

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* Nancy loves to share her garden's bounty and is best known for the lavish bouquets of sweet peas she gives to local friends and neighbors. On her many travels, Nancy carries sweet pea seeds she has saved for this purpose, and has left a trail of lovely blossoms in the gardens of new and old friends on all the temperate continents.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License