As the leaves yellow and fall, as sweaters are donned, as potted plants are brought indoors and the garden starts to slumber, spring is happening elsewhere. The aptly named ‘pincushion’ proteas are one of the resident wonders of the South African fynbos and burst into bloom just as we start to sense summer’s departure. Comprised of many small flowers condensed into one ponderous, firey head, the showy parts of the pincushion protea are actually modified leaves designed to attract pollinators. Generally available only as cut flowers, in warmer climates like California, or the southwest, proteas can be easily grown in dry, nutrient poor soils with a low pH. It’s good practice to plant proteas on slopes, to increase soil drainage, and in fact, in very dry areas, a deep watering is only necessary once a week. In the early morning hours the flower’s sweet and sticky ooze of nectar will attract droves of hummingbirds to feed.