The tulip in the centre is the first 'Shirley' of the season. It's one of my favourites; although I adore bold and bright tulips, I also like 'Shirley' for its delicacy, and the way the edges of the ivory petals are outlined in what looks like a fine line purple ink that has run a little in the rain. As the flowers develop, the 'ink' runs even more and spreads, like the paper chromotography experiments of school chemistry lessons.
The young flowers start off a deep cream and with no hint of the painterly quality to come, and gradually get lighter and eventually they begin to open and you see the first traces of the purple edging.
So I'm pleased there are plenty more Shirleys to come.