The line of demarcation is blurry here in zone 9 and fickle too, receding and advancing along with radical temperature fluctuations; frosty rooftops give way to a cold beer at noon in the warm sun on a patio that is still unobstructed by the leafy canopy of the nearby trees. 30 at 5AM , 70 at noon.
This Clematis armadii is my personal signpost..when the buds plump up and begin to peek out my garden has turned a corner- it's waking up. We still are likely to have cold and wet days ahead. There will be setbacks-standing water, snails, weeds and frostburn -but stuff is growing. It's spring-ish.