To force tulip bulbs, you have to keep the pot in the cold and the dark for three months, then bring it into the warmth and the light.
(To save peonies until August, you have to wrap the buds in newspaper and keep them in the fridge, then release them and put them in water, and all that early summer will come blooming out.)
Bright yellow cups with feathered black lines in the middle and a dusting of black pollen. I took them home with me and in the time they sat in the sunny warmth of the car the petals opened, opened, till I feared they’d fall off by this evening.
But now, stood between the other new plants, the tulips have recalibrated and found some equilibrium or alignment… or maybe flowers, too, can only take so much growing, expanding, opening and, once they find their heart’s home, they relax, stop worrying about the top of the stalk, and bring energy back to the roots instead.