It may have been a surprise to find the secretive tulips flowering in the sitooterie a few days ago, but their compatriots in a planter on the paved area in front of it may have proved to be a greater surprise (right). Chivvied out by this week’s sunshine, these are no doubt the same variety as those gasping for water inside, but tulips flowering outside in mid-March? Is that normal? But what IS normal? Last March we suffered a second onslaught of snow and bitter temperatures in the UK, but two years ago March was breaking temperature and sunshine records – clearly there IS no norm. Rather more seasonal though are the first of the pretty species tulips (left), all of which are a welcome addition to the early spring garden – these are either Tulipa tarda or T turkestanica. It’s looking promising for this month’s Garden Bloggers Blooms Day!