The agriculturally rich land of California's Sacramento Valley, the area between Redding and Sacramento, allows gardeners to enjoy a wide range of plants to grow and enjoy. Regarded as Sunset Climate Zones 8 and 9, the cold-air basins and thermal belts of California's Central Valley supply long growing seasons. Subtropical fruits like citrus and Mediterranean favorites like grapes prosper in highland elevations, while winter-chill needing fruit trees are common in the lowest valley basins.
Depending on how mild the winter is, the foliage of Lenten roses (Helleborus spp.) can emerge in late winter and even begin displaying the downward-facing flowers in February. The five-petaled flowers range in color from pale green to cream, white, pink, violet or burgundy. By midsummer, the leaves have turned yellow and gone dormant and are hidden by other perennials' foliage.
While you may not associate a fall-planted bulb that blooms in spring as a perennial, indeed daffodils (Narcissus spp.) are among the best bulbs that multiply and bloom reliably each early spring. With hundreds of cultivars of daffodils extant today, purchase those that are labeled "early season" if you want flowers in January or February; those that are "mid-season" bloom February to March. Rodents won't eat the daffodil bulbs either, unlike the non-poisonous, tasty crocus or tulip bulbs.
Pretty in the dappled shade under woodland trees that are just beginning to leaf-out in early spring, columbine (Aquilegia spp.) develop soft blue-green to sea-foam green foliage. The flowers are borne on stems above the mass of leaves and look like a plump star with five spurs on the back of the blossom. By planting several species, you can enjoy flowers from early to late spring.
Best in partially shaded spots in the garden, these perennials, sometimes called pigsqueak or megasea (Bergenia spp.), often retain their attractive, glossy green leaves across winter if it's not too cold. Depending on species, tiny nodding flowers on thin branching stems appear above the leaves anytime from midwinter to early spring. The flowers are white, rose, lilac, purplish or red in color. Even when not blooming, the foliage is handsome.