Tulips at Keukenhof, Holland.

As I look out of my window, I can see the row upon row of daffodils — jostling to take pride of place in the flower beds. They stand, proudly, cheek by jowl with the hellebores, and the shrubs which give structure to my garden. March has faded into April, and as it did so, the bright yellow trumpets of the daffodils began to fade. For so many people, the daffodil is a real sign that spring is here — the snowdrops with their fragile courage are a symbol of hope that life has survived underneath the cold earth, but it’s not until the gaudy brashness of the daffodils and narcissi that we really feel that the winter is passing.

I always find it to be a sad job dead heading the daffodils — they go so quickly from their full beauty to looking weather beaten and forlorn. The only comfort I take from this task, is the knowledge that I am sending the goodness back into the bulbs for the following year, and that before we know it, another year will have turned, and they will be in their Sunday best again.

As the bright yellow starts to fade, there are one or two splashes of passionate red. A smear of lipstick on the collar of the landscape — the next of the colour palette for Mother Nature to test out on her canvas. It won’t be long before the whole garden is bursting with colour, but for now, they come in twos, and threes — sticking to their own, a dot of something here, a fleck of something there — not yet the mingling and interspersing of the blossoms and blousy roses which will surely follow within the weeks and months to come — these spring bulbs keep rank, resolute in their uniformity. Some of these tulips are bright — almost brazen — crimsons, mustards, with black stamen twitching the eye of a heavily kohled lid winking in the sun. Others take the opposite path, they are dark as jet, and look velvet to the touch — regal rich hues of purple, and midnight black. Somewhere in between the two, lie the parrot varieties, streaked with colour and mesmerising in their design. As I watch, and wait, I wonder which will be the next to grace the portrait unfurling in front of me.