New blooming stuff: 1. Tulips! I had a spasm of buying tulips a few years ago, even though we tend to have insufficient chill to set bloom, as I found out in the following seasons when no tulips showed up from the old bulbs. Well, this spring they're all back, and a white one, the first, is just opening. So pretty. And there are going to be zillions of others, but I have no idea what colors I planted all those years ago. Well, hey, girls love surprises, and I'm most assuredly not going to complain. I'm excited. 2. California poppies. I planted "Mission Bells" around the edges of the round flower bed. Mission Bells have different colors such as red and white as well as the usual orange. Only the usual orange is blooming, so far. California poppies are a pest in my yard. Thousands sprout in the spring, and then I have to kill them. I was kind of hoping for a different color of pest at least, but MBs are a little later than the non-hybrid kind so it's a bit early for true disappointment. Hope springs vernal. 3. Um, nothing else new is actually blooming yet...But 3 1/2. The ranunculus are shooting up their bud stems with little knotted buds at the end. 3 1/2 a. So are the echiums, which have grown close to 18 inches in the last 10 days. These are the plants I grew from seeds I collected at the MUNI stop at Dolores Park, one Dyke March afternoon five years ago. This is the second year they've bloomed, and they are all budded up MADLY. 3 3/4. So are the aliums that were on sale as pink and blue but have reverted to white. Oh, I know. Don't fuss at me. They didn't actually revert. I know. They don't seed true, so what is growing isn't the original bulbs, but the seeds. Feh. They're still white and boring, except for their miniscule precious cuteness. The rains flattened them a little. 3 3/4 a. The yarrow, "Moonlight," if that's the right name, is picking up somewhat. It sort of kept blooming through the winter, along with the daylily, neither to noteworthy effect. 4. All my dutch irises are well grown, but no buds yet. The miniatures, the iris reticulata "Natascha" in the window box with the Valerie Finnis muscari, are looking happy, but no buds there either. I wuz burned, man. What is good to plant in a yard with lots of squirrels who dig up the plants? Would getting a cat help scare them away, or is that too cruel? I'm asking for a friend--oh, let's call him "sparo"--who has recently moved to a house in the East Bay with a big yard and lots of birds and squirrels. Does anyone else have to deal with this? Any tips?