The grass is mere mud, the beds are choked with sodden and blackening leaves, but piercing the sleeping earth are bulbs, pushing through in phalanx after phalanx and promising flowers where all, now, is decay.
Overhead, too, life is returning. There are buds on many of the trees, and the tits are overjoyed, eating them as fast as they can come. Light levels are still low, and often it's the smaller shrubs that come into leaf first, keen to make what they can of the sun's energy before the tall trees shade them out.
We're not there yet, though. Next month will see the snowdrops come out, and the cherries and magnolias will come into bloom - and only then can we say that spring has begun.