The tulips on the kitchen table are called ‘Texas Flame’, magnificent yellow and red flowers, flaring their pointed petals as they gradually slacken their stance. When they were bolt upright they were almost stately, but their gradual relaxation is a joy to behold, until they droop, their stems becoming concave as they strive to keep their heads up and their petals start to fall. I managed to discover their name, but know hardly any of the succession of equally beautiful tulips that bring joy to the house all winter long. I read that there are 8,000 varieties. The flower barrow at the top of the road always has three or four, but I scarcely mind what colour they are; the succession on the kitchen table is a continuous pleasure.
We have an even greater treat, though, in the greenhouse and almost ready for its entry. Each year I plant a wide and rather deep pan with as many ‘tommy’ crocuses as I can fit in. They are just showing their first colour as I write. In the kitchen they will extend and expand and luxuriate until there is scarcely room on the table for our wine glasses. Eventually they loll drunkenly (is it the fumes?), spilling over their bowl in extravagant curving gestures. The pictures on the packet show bulbs in their party suits, ties straightened. They are different characters when the party really gets going.