It’s beach weather along Northern California’s coastline and bare root season technically won’t start for another few weeks. It’s the last Saturday in January–still winter. But the plants are waking up all around Henny Penny Farmette, thanks to the record-breaking, unseasonably warm weather.



Brightly colored narcissus are grown from bulbs that return year after year

Narcissus are grown from bulbs and when massed together in plantings return year after year in a cheerful splash of color



The narcissus seem to have popped up overnight. We tucked three dozen bulbs in a bed the first fall we lived on the farmette. The next spring, they bloomed. Their tall stalks and leaves die during summer, but every spring they emerge to bloom again, creating a dramatic drift of color.



Who doesn’t love working in shirt sleeves? But our gardens need rain and we need the plants to remain dormant while we finish winter chores and get our new chicken house ready.



Bird of paradise plants are easy to grow and lend a tropical feel to any area

Bird of paradise plants are easy to grow and lend a tropical feel to any area



This week, we finished dividing the strawberries and irises, cutting back the roses, and spraying the fruit trees again.We created another sitting area in the garden under a large apricot tree, laid a gravel floor, and planted Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) plants in half barrels.



Bird of Paradise plants (also known as crane flower) are indigenous to South Africa. The plants are heat lovers and aren’t too fussy about soil. Planting them in containers is a good idea if you live in an area, as we do, where the winter temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You simply move them indoors.



The Bird of Paradise foliage makes a nice foil for the plant’s striking blooms of orange, fuchsia, and purple that resemble a crane’s head and beak.



The peaches think it's spring and have sprung blooms

The peaches have sprouted blooms, too, surprising us weeks before we expected blossoms



I think it’s too late to tell the plants to go back to sleep. So even if it’s torture to spend a long, languorous  day digging in my garden in my shirt sleeves, while the rest of the country is freezing, I suppose I simply must soldier on.

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