Answer: Your plant selection will be based on the growing conditions you have available, including amount of sunlight, soil type, soil moisture, and exposure to wind, as well as your personal taste and how much time and effort you wish to expend on gardening. There is a huge variety of plants that would do well in your area (USDA winter hardiness zone warm 6 to cold 7), so you have a wide choice.
Since you are new to gardening, I would suggest that you look at a book or two to help you begin with an overview. One I particularly like because it covers the basics fast and in a straightforward way is "Gardening for Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey, ISBN 1-56884-644-4. In it you will find prctical advice about evaluating your planting areas, selecting plants, planting them, and caring for them afterwards. There are additional books in the series about specific aspects of gardening, but this one should get you started.
You might also want to check with your county extension (471-2200) where they can help you with basic soil tests and interpreting the results based on what you want to grow. They will also have suggestions about specific varieties that do best in your local area.
It is not too early to pot up some seasonal violas or other early blooming annuals while you plan and start your soil preparation. Enjoy the season!
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