By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
The sunny, warm weather that started last week and spilled across the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has teased up a false spring with flowers blooming and green thumbs planting.
Primrose, cyclamen, violas and pansies are flying out of area nurseries, borne on the arms of gardeners weary of winter's colorless doldrums.
"People get spring fever and they want to get out in their gardens," said Robb Hirsch, co-owner of Mountain Sage Nurseries in Groveland.
Hirsch said many people are coming in to buy Japanese maples and native oaks, trees that will do well once planted in the ground.
"We don't have anything that will die over the winter," Hirsch said.
Mountain Sage is stocked and ready for any onslaught of flower fanatics, but at other nurseries, the plant demand has been difficult to satisfy.
"The biggest problem is that we don't have that much at this time of year," said Faye Tillery, nursery sales associate for Andy's True Value in Sonora.
January is usually the slowest time of year for nurseries, so many shops are understocked until around mid-February when the weather brightens and flowers begin to unfurl.
"All this warm weather is making the flowers bloom early," said Leila Losik, manager of Donlen Nursery in Altaville.
Losik said the demand for the winter-hardy primrose has been more than she can meet.
"My primroses are completely gone," she said. "With the weather being so nice, it's really bringing people out."
Columbia Nursery & Florist Owner Janet Offstad said this sort of pre-spring fever happens every year.
"Whenever the sun comes out at this time of year, people feel like getting out in their gardens," Offstad said.
Pat Pearce drove down from her Twain Harte home to buy primroses with her daughter and granddaughter.
She wasn't fazed about the prospect of their being blanketed with snow.